Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice developer and publisher Ninja Theory has announced The Insight Project, a new research and development project focused on mental health. This project will be the latest in Ninja Theory’s partnership with Paul Fletcher, a University of Cambridge psychiatrist and professor of health neuroscience, according to a new blog post. Fletcher first worked with the company consulting on their 2017 title Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which featured a protagonist who struggled with psychosis. Hellblade’s portrayal of mental illness drew widespread praise for the game, including five BAFTAs and a Royal College of Psychiatrists award. Last year, they continued their mental health advocacy by setting up a scholarship program that helped people become mental health tutors.
After five years of research during the company’s collaboration with Fletcher, they’ve developed a prototype monitoring kit that can measure different physical bodily outputs, such as heart rate, eye movement, and respiration. As of now, the prototype is being tested on a few initial subjects, including Fletcher himself, as they experience physical and psychological challenges. The team will continue onto their “first ethically approved scientific study” if the data turns out good.
Ninja Theory describes The Insight Project as “an ambitious combination of technology, game design and clinical neuroscience brought together with the aim of generating strategies to alleviate mental distress.” In addition to exploring how games can help raise awareness of mental health, Ninja Theory’s ultimate goal is “to deliver a mainstream solution to help treat mental suffering encourage mental well being.” This will be accomplished through “self-contained, individualized, and absorbing game experiences” that will allow people to recognize, and even treat, “their own fear, anxiety, and other negative subjective experience.”
The timeline for The Insight Project isn’t clear yet, as Ninja Theory notes that it “will take shape over several years,” but they believed announcing the project early on would “encourage an open and transparent approach to its development.”
Though this project is very exploratory and experiential, Ninja Theory assures that their “approach will be widely and conveniently applicable” and they “will adhere to strict standards of ethics and data management.”