A game developed by the University of Auckland to combat depression has been picked up for publication.
According to VG247, the fantasy RPG titled SPARX will be published by LinkedWellness, a US organization specializing in e-therapy treatments for mental illness. The game is designed to provide self-help therapy through multiple, half-hour challenges, teaching players how to cope with and handle depression.
Past clinical trials have proven it is as effective as face-to-face therapy, and in many cases, more. The game has been extensively evaluated in scholar circles, its results reviewed in academic journals.
David Burt, CEO of LinkedWellness, is confident in SPARX’s potential.
“There’s nothing like this game. It’s the only game that’s got a clinical trial showing that it reduces depression. It’s by far, several years at least ahead of anything else out there.”
The publisher understands the benefits of going the e-therapy route. Not only is it offered in the privacy of one’s home, or wherever a player may wish to access it, but for those afflicted with depression, SPARX provides a cheaper alternative to pricey therapy sessions. It will also be available online 24/7, a feature that eliminates lengthy wait times for face-to-face appointments. It is a quick access to tools for people who may otherwise not be inclined to ask for help.
LinkedWellness is aiming for a multiplatform release, and will be converted to Unity. Initially, the game will have an in-browser launch sometime during autumn. A potential touch version for tablets and phones may also appear.
LinkedWelllness’s approach to treat depression through a game is fitting. Many studies have confirmed a direct link between depression and excessive gaming, though it is unclear at this point whether gaming is the cause or the coping mechanism of depression.
SPARX is not the first game treating or dealing with depression, though its challenges are definitely unique. Several mini-games have previously been developed along the same lines, as an online, always-available tool designed to help people cope with and understand their depression.