Independent game developers are increasingly exploring ways that games could positively affect players’ emotions. Popular “AAA” games are also becoming more emotionally driven. This trend has had a huge impact on teens like Draven Miltenberger.
After being abused for most of his life, Miltenberger suffered from depression and was on the verge of committing suicide. He found hope in Lara Croft and the new Tomb Raider game.
“Lara was the person that I needed most, and she gave me the strength and told me to just keep moving,” Miltenberger wrote on his blog. He is now pursuing his GED, and he hopes to have a career in writing.
He credits all of his success to the strength Tomb Raider gave him. The game tells the story of a young, vulnerable Lara Croft. After a disaster, Lara pulls herself together to rescue herself and her companions. She is young and scared and inexperienced, but she still finds the strength within herself to succeed. This is the strength that inspired Miltenberger.
Tomb Raider is not the only game that has tapped into deep emotions this year. The Last of Us, produced by Naughty Dog, delivers intense emotional content alongside traditional zombie-shooting. The Walking Dead Game also uses a zombie apocalypse as a backdrop for a sensitive, complex story.
For parents, games like these can prompt discussions with teens about meaningful choices and about violence. Teens might want to talk to you about the intense gaming experience they’ve had; take the opportunity to listen! And maybe pick up the controller yourself experience the power of immersive play!
For more, see our infographic on how games can help with depression.