Ninja Theory Announces The Insight Project Which Explores Mental Illness Through Video Games

Ninja Theory Announces The Insight Project Which Explores Mental Illness Through Video Games

Ninja Theory announces The Insight Project that aims to make use of technology and video games to combat mental health conditions.

Ninja Theory, the studio behind the critically acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrificehas announced a new initiative to address mental health and alleviate mental distress with The Insight Project. The studio is no stranger in dealing with the topic of mental health as we witnessed them explore the young Celtic warrior Senua in her heartwrenching journey with psychosis where she must not only overcome physical challenges, but also those presented by her mind in a vast array of terrifying hallucinations. This, in turn, brought much-needed awareness to the condition and was applauded for its representation into the broad and complex spectrum of mental illness.

Following the unprecedented triumph of 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Ninja Theory’s creative director Tameem Antoniades and Paul Fletcher, a psychiatrist and a professor of health neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, have once again teamed up to further discuss how games can go beyond representing mental illness and distress and how they play a role in promoting mental wellbeing. The Insight Project aims to combine technology, game design, and clinical neuroscience to alleviate mental distress with the end goal being that this will lead to self-contained, individualized and absorbing game experiences within which people can become an expert at recognizing, responding to and, ultimately, controlling their own fear, anxiety and other negative subjective experience.

Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades states “With Microsoft acquiring us, it’s taken off a lot of pressure from us as a studio,” he says “So we stopped developing games for other people, you know, work-for-hire games, which meant we have the opportunity to start entirely new projects.” Antoniades also talks briefly that this incentive could be particularly useful especially in the times we all face as a nation currently “The Insight Project is a rare example of artists, scientists and mental health professionals coming together to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time: mental suffering.”


Professor Paul Fletcher who studies neuroscience at Cambridge University and who had a lot of input on Hellblade, uses a simple metaphor example when describing mental health disorders when they are displayed and represented on-screen using biometric data “You’re on a boat and in order to successfully navigate towards a target, you need to keep the sea as calm as possible,” he says. “Then what that would actually entail is keeping a control over your physiological state — so learning how you could keep a lid on those physical aspects of the emotion.”

Over on The Insight Project website, it asks the question: Could a videogame help promote mental wellbeing and reduce mental suffering? The Insight Project certainly believes so and has harnessed the ever-growing use of wearable technology to “provide compelling and absorbing narratives within immersive settings that can be tailored to respond flexibly and sensitively to the individual abilities and demands of those who play them. Thus, the game setting, allied to wearable tech, has the core components to offer a realistic approach to measuring and – ultimately – shaping the factors that combine to produce mental suffering and ill-health”.

Currently, The Insight Project is in its infancy which will take shape over several years but Ninja Theory wanted to announce its project early to encourage an open and transparent approach to its development. This is an amazing and much-needed venture that I fully support, I can’t wait to see how it develops and shapes the methods into the exploration into mental illness thus helping people overcome and understand their condition more clearly.

You can follow The Insight Project on Twitter to keep up to date with their progress and, of course, we will keep you updated on this exciting incentive when Ninja Theory releases more information. For now, you can watch the insightful and educational video that discusses this subject below.