Video game helps teens cope with COVID-19
A free video game titled Shadow’s Edge helps players cope with the isolation, desolation and fear caused by stressors like COVID-19, the game’s developer told Healio Primary Care.
Rosemary Lokhorst said the game uses narrative therapy and artistic expression to enable players to save the city — called Shadow’s Edge — that has been destroyed by a storm. The game’s content was approved by psychologists and a worldwide advisory board of current and former players.
“Shadow’s Edge asks questions such as ‘Do you ever think that people don’t see the real you, but they see a mask? How does that make you feel?’ Players then write their answers in a journal connected to the game and receive spray paint to draw the mask on a structure that needs to be rebuilt,” Lokhorst said. “This allows them to process their emotions, how they can respond to their emotions and what they can do to change them.”
Throughout the game, “players get tools that make the city full of color and beauty, enable plants to grow and repair buildings,” she said. “Players start incorporating the narrative therapy and artistic expression in their real lives and discover new meaning to life, with the goal of improving the player’s emotional well-being as they rebuild the city.”
Players have the option of sharing pictures of their reborn city in an Instagram-like community and connect to others. The game was originally intended for children and teenagers with chronic and terminal illnesses, but it has been modified to address emotions and feelings prompted by COVID-19, Lokhorst said.
Shortly before graduation season started, we saw that stress was a big topic in the journals. Players felt that they were missing out or that they were academically behind,” she said. “After players described their feelings, we give them a coloring exercise to calm them down and information about breathing exercises that you see in cognitive behavioral therapy.”
According to Lokhorst, Shadow Edge’s appropriateness for helping players cope with isolation, desolation and fear was validated in a 2017 study with the University of Twente. She said after 5 weeks, more than 75% of the 55 participants — all patients with emotional and/or physical challenges — reported increases in traits such as optimism, mindfulness, awareness and positive self-identity. The results of a 12-month validation at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago that wrapped up earlier this year with 192 patients in remission or final treatments for a disease should be published in August.
Shadow’s Edge is available via the Apple App store and on Google Play. There are no ads and no in-game purchases, Lokhorst said.