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The Best Portrayals Of Mental Illness In Video Games

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One of the main things that separates video games from other forms of media is that the player is in control of the character. They have to choose when to push forward and when to retreat. Many games have used this in order to tell unique stories that wouldn’t be possible in any other medium. “Celeste” is one of those games. Platformers have largely gone by the wayside in recent years, but “Celeste” is still worth playing in 2021 because it is both challenging and has a story that has connected with a lot of players.

The game is about a strong-willed and determined young woman named Madeline who must climb a mountain. The story slowly reveals her struggles with depression and anxiety while she pushes forward, attempting to manage her conditions as self-doubt, fear, panic attacks, and feelings of hopelessness bog her down. The very act of climbing the mountain is a reflection of how exhausting mental illness can be. It is literally an uphill battle, and the challenging nature of the game means that most players will experience plenty of setbacks as they approach the summit.

Game writer, designer, and director Maddy Thorson also stated that, like her, Madeline is a trans woman. This is an important distinction given that (via Medical News Today) “research suggests that transgender individuals are almost four times as likely as cisgender people to experience a mental health condition” due to cissexism, discrimination, violence, and barriers to healthcare. More than that though, Madeline’s struggles make players want her to succeed.



One of the main things that separates video games from other forms of media is that the player is in control of the character. They have to choose when to push forward and when to retreat. Many games have used this in order to tell unique stories that wouldn’t be possible in any other medium. “Celeste” is one of those games. Platformers have largely gone by the wayside in recent years, but “Celeste” is still worth playing in 2021 because it is both challenging and has a story that has connected with a lot of players.

The game is about a strong-willed and determined young woman named Madeline who must climb a mountain. The story slowly reveals her struggles with depression and anxiety while she pushes forward, attempting to manage her conditions as self-doubt, fear, panic attacks, and feelings of hopelessness bog her down. The very act of climbing the mountain is a reflection of how exhausting mental illness can be. It is literally an uphill battle, and the challenging nature of the game means that most players will experience plenty of setbacks as they approach the summit.

Game writer, designer, and director Maddy Thorson also stated that, like her, Madeline is a trans woman. This is an important distinction given that (via Medical News Today) “research suggests that transgender individuals are almost four times as likely as cisgender people to experience a mental health condition” due to cissexism, discrimination, violence, and barriers to healthcare. More than that though, Madeline’s struggles make players want her to succeed.

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