(Not) treating mental illness like a game
Moons of Madness introduces mental illness as a factor in the game through various game modes and mechanics. However, one of the most challenging aspects of doing this has always been to do a scary game that does not antagonize any mental illness sufferers.
Even though we do have a lot of discussions around the subject and we want to be very careful we almost already fell into the trap of doing the very mistake we were trying to avoid. In one of the events we had someone turn into a monster until we realized that is exactly what we do not want to do. In so many horror games mental patients are portrayed as the monsters, as something you have to be afraid of. We are constantly re-assessing events, characters and story elements to make sure we are staying true to this in all aspects of the game.
Additionally, mental institutions or those seeking help have also been stigmatized and that is also something we would like to be very careful about. How we portray any of this is incredibly sensitive and we are very aware of this fact.
We do not want the mental illness to be the driving force or source of scary aspects or violence in Moons of Madness. It’s saddening that mental illness sufferers for many are still perceived as scary or unapproachable.
With this in mind, we want to stress again, that we are actively working to use this topic in a new/hopefully relate-able way. We are not going for “insane inmate trope” or even “crazed killer” trope.
We also feel that it’s important to not only look into how it is to suffer from mental illness but also how it might be to indirectly be afflicted by it.
In that regard it is also helpful to actually consult with professionals on this subject. It helps us to portray situations more realistically while staying true to the kind of mental illness we are exploring.
Of course we could claim that the game is mostly about “fighting your inner demons” but stories are never as straight forward are they and ours certainly isn’t either.