This talk compares the participatory design process of four mental health games aimed to increase understanding of “what it’s like” to live with OCD, ADD, bipolar and eating disorder. Participants were people with lived experience of the portrayed disorders. Participation happened on a continuum of “complete integration into the team” to “participant contributing at specific times during development”. The talk reflects on strategies used for collaborative idea generation, a discussion on how each team identified its vision and communicative goal for the project, found the game’s core metaphor and made decisions around game elements, negotiating participants’ and playtesters’ input.

About the presenter


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 where she founded the “Play for Change” lab. 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”, create empathy and can be used for mental health activism.

Additional resources

Project website