It’s not often that I’m lost for words when it comes to writing. In fact, I’m never been backwards in coming forwards when sharing my thoughts online. Having just completed Fractured Minds though, I’ve genuinely had to take ten minutes to compose myself before attempting to write this piece.
Fractured Minds is a beautiful, atmospheric BAFTA award-winning game, designed and created by 17-year old Emily Mitchell and published by Wired Productions. It takes a deep dive into the world of the human brain at it’s most unsettled, inspired by Emily’s own personal journey of severe anxiety.
When I say personal, I also mean personal to anyone who has ever experienced anxiety, because they will absolutely identify with this game on a deeply relatable level.
“I created Fractured Minds to help those who suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues feel they’re not alone. The effects of illness can be invisible from the outside, yet debilitating to those affected, so it’s important to continue raising awareness and offering support. I am grateful for the support I’ve received and want to help others however I can.” – Emily Mitchell
The fact that this game was created by a 17-year old should send a message that goes above and beyond her age alone. Fractured Minds should be celebrated not only for the masterpiece it is in terms of raising awareness of mental health issues but also in terms of the incredible skill and talent this young woman has shown in creating it.
Game development has been her solace in this stress-inducing world of ours, and Fractured Minds is an unbelievably perceptive and challenging byproduct of the coping mechanism she found for herself.
We should be grateful for that, because Fractured Minds is truly a work of art. The game itself covers six chapters of some of the struggles faced by those who suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues.
You progress through each chapter with increasing levels of challenge and unease. There were times that the imagery, problem-solving situations and immersively atmospheric music really drew me into the uncomfortable feelings that epitomise my own experiences with anxiety.
There are so many scenes and sequences in Fractured Minds that I want to talk about because it was challenging for me to play through, in more ways than one. From the moment the game began I was transported instantly into my own mind, back through time to the world of a teenager, with the added hit of tech-immersion that shrouds our younger generation now. The ‘Paranoia’ chapter in particular resonated with me hugely, and surprisingly, it also made me stop and put my parent hat on for a moment.
Our children and young people are surrounded by people with their faces in their phones. Literally, figuratively and emotionally. Fractured Minds is a testament to what a young girl can achieve in the face of a world full of slow-moving ghosts. The game’s rooms are mainly empty, but the streets are full of shapeless bodies that ignore you, leaving you alone yet suffocated in a world full of drones who wouldn’t give a shit if they squashed you, as long as they managed to update their status first.
This is the world we live in.
The different scenarios presented in each chapter provide a fractional glimpse into the world that people with anxiety live in every day. It’s a masterpiece, and for someone so young to have encapsulated the struggle of so many through the medium of gaming, through the thing that has helped her to cope with her own issues, is amazing.
For me, Fractured Minds is a bold, impactful game that should encourage us to take stock of our own lives, in our attitudes towards our children, towards our friends and families, and to the mirror that we hold up to ourselves. That thing in the mirror that so many of us, like Emily, have seen, it isn’t who we are.
For those who haven’t experienced issues with anxiety or their own mental health; I urge you to play this game. Those of us who have will identify with it instantly, but perhaps we’re not the ones who need to hear its message.
I don’t want to delve into the game in terms of mechanics, gameplay, or any of that stuff. I don’t want to say too much about it at all if I’m honest. I just want you to play it. I want you all to play it. Even if it isn’t your type of game, you should play it regardless. 80% of Fractured Minds‘ proceeds will be split equally between Emily Mitchell, to support her future career and the charity Safe In Our World. You can purchase it on Steam, Xbox One, Playstation4 and Nintendo Switch for just £1.79.
Games like Fractured Minds make me proud to be involved in gaming. They make me proud of our young people, and they make me remember that not all games need to be big-budget, huge studio titles in order to make an important contribution not only to the landscape of gaming but to the wider fabric of our society. In short, it’s bloody brilliant.
Fractured Minds is a game that matters, and to create something that matters is perhaps the greatest achievement of all.