“Walking With is a two player mystery game in which a ‘patient’ and a ‘therapist’ player navigate through the patient’s emotional landscape and engage in collaborative puzzle solving activities to uncover the patient’s personal story and promote insight and healing.”
Work in Progress
This project is a collaboration between the CDM game development program and DePaul’s School of Nursing. It aims to teach mental health practitioners in training how to compassionately and productively “walk with” a patient, rather than trying to fix and impose one’s values on her. To foster this kind of learning, the core mechanics focus around exploration and collaborative puzzle solving. Neither patient nor therapist can win the game alone. Good communication including close listening, clarification and validation are key for successful gameplay.
The gamespace is a metaphorical representation of the patient’s emotional landscape and structured in three levels: a swamp of despair (dealing with themes of depression), a forest of fears (tackling anxiety and recovering enduring pieces of self) and a mountain of courage (integration of enduring pieces of self and self-acceptance). Therapist and patient player play on different computers and initially have different views of the gamespace. The therapist only sees a rough layout of the patient’s landscape, a blueprint of depression without knowledge of its concrete manifestation for this specific patient. The patient sees her immediate environment in naturalistic detail, but lacks a big picture overview. She needs the therapist’s guidance to make sense of her experience and find a way out. Together, they explore the patient’s space, uncover objects that represent her personal themes, engage in collaborative puzzle solving to identify the objects clearly and gain a better understanding of the swamp of despair. With increasing knowledge of the patient’s emotional landscape, “runes of insight” appear that must be collected and interpreted to reveal the patient’s personal story and provide clues to recovery.