The Xbox studio battling mental illness with video games and neuroscience

October 29, 2019
By Jackson Ryan

Senua sees things that aren’t really there.

Villages burning to the ground. Norse runes bleeding color. Lumbering giants wearing skull-masks and swinging heavy blades. Sometimes, she hears voices whispering in her ears. Her hallucinations are frightening and alien, but to her, they feel as real as the ground she walks on.

But they aren’t real. And neither is Senua. She is a character in a video game, a young Celtic warrior created by Cambridge, England, development studio Ninja Theory. Four years ago Tameem Antoniades, chief creative director at Ninja Theory, set out to make a video game that would put the player in the shoes of someone suffering from severe mental illness. The result was Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

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