Friday Games: For The Records

This Friday, we will be playing four games from DePaul University about mental health with our an old friend of the lab, Doris Rusch! We’ll start at 4pm ET in MIT room 26-153 as usual. You can also watch online on our TwitchTV stream.

The games model the experience of “what it’s like” to live with mental health issues. People with lived experience were strongly involved in the design process of the games to ensure phenomenological accuracy. These games are part of the bigger transmedia / interactive documentary project “For the Records” (with Anuradha Rana, MFA) that deals with young adults and mental illness and aims to increase understanding and alleviate stigma.

FLUCtuation is a game about bipolar disorder, “It’s for the best” deals with the psychological addiction to ADD medication and matters of self-worth, “Perfection” plays with perceptions of beauty to help players understand the conflicts surrounding the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, and “Into Darkness” is based on the experience of the obsessive compulsive performance of rituals to stave off anxiety.

Doris C. Rusch is a game designer, researcher, play aficionado and holds a position as assistant professor for game design at DePaul University in Chicago. Before that she did post doctoral work at GAMBIT Game Lab, MIT, and Vienna University of Technology (Austria).

Rusch’s work is focused on the theory and practice of game design, particularly in regard to games that model the “human experience” and aim at mental health activism. She was the lead designer and vision holder of award winning and featured projects such as “Zombie Yoga” for Kinect, “Elude”, a metaphorical game on depression, and “Akrasia”, a game that models addiction. Having completed studies in Literature, Philosophy, Comparative Media Studies and English at Vienna University, she received her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and Interactive Systems.

Philip Tan is the creative director for the MIT Game Lab. He teaches CMS.608 Game Design and CMS.611J/6.073J Creating Video Games at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For the past 6 years, he was the executive director for the US operations of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, a game research initiative. He complements a Master's degree in Comparative Media Studies with work in Boston's School of Museum of Fine Arts, the MIT Media Lab, WMBR 88.1FM and the MIT Assassins' Guild, the latter awarding him the title of "Master Assassin" for his live-action roleplaying game designs. He also founded a DJ crew at MIT.

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