High school can be a rough time. Pressure to fit in, do well in school, and maintain relationships can weigh down on students who are constantly comparing themselves to the human highlight reels of various social media platforms and “influencers.” It can often be too much on some teenagers, especially if they are already dealing with other extraneous circumstances.
Such is the case in What Happened, from indie developer Genius Slackers. What Happened puts players in the shoes of Stiles, a high school student who is dealing with A LOT, such as being disassociated from his best friend and former girlfriend, the loss of his father, and his habitual drug use. Players will guide Stiles through the halls of his school, never really knowing whether they are dealing with reality or a drug-induced trip, all coming to a head in one of the game’s multiple endings based on decisions made in throughout the game.
What Happened is a considerably emotionally-heavy game, as it features a main character at the lowest point in his life. Stiles’ internal struggle and thoughts of suicide were themes that the team at Genius Slackers really wanted to drive home, visualizing the internal pain that so many people go through every day, and even gaining insights and perpectives on the topics from mental health experts.
“Making this game was a journey for us, and we want players to experience a similar one when they play the game,” Hassan Mehdiasl, producer on What Happened, said. “We had an impossible task in front of us, but we pushed through. Our struggles, hardships, and anxieties are reflected in every corner of Stiles’ world. More than anything else, we made this game with our emotions. We poured ourselves into its corridors and the result turned out exactly how we wanted. We made it through this journey and got the happy ending. We hope our players will too.”
The topic of mental health awareness is one that the video games industry has seen an increase in over the past few years, with such games as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Sea of Solitude, as well as initiatives to aid in raising mental health awareness, such as Safe In Our World. What Happened may not be the most recognized game in the space, but is certainly worthy of being included in furthering the destigmatization of mental health disorders.
Source: HomeRun PR