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“Negativity breeds more negativity, so if you do something positive, hopefully it will breed positivity as well,” says Asylum Jam coordinator

Joe Donnelly September 5, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Asylum Jam is a game jam set to be held from October 11-13 and will challenge some of the misconceived stereotypes associated with mental health and survival horror. Lucy Morris, the jam co-ordinator, spoke to BeefJack about how game jams have the power to challenge negative issues from a positive perspective.

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Survival horror is the one genre in gaming most guilty of perpetuating false stereotypes. Too often mental institutions are the stage for these types of games, and patients suffering from various forms of mental illness are the stars of the show.

This of course has the potential to trivialise both our conception or interpretation of mental illness, as well as the mental conditions themselves. Our own Jamie Donnelly explored this idea at length, when he questioned why Agustin Cordes and Red Barrel Games opted for such design choices in their forthcoming games, Asylum and Outlast.

Indie developer Lucy Morris is set to host a game jam in October named Asylum Jam, where developers and teams are encouraged to create horror games without the inclusion of “asylums, psychiatric institutes, medical professionals or violent/antipathic/’insane’ patients as settings or triggers,” according to the jam’s Tumblr page.

“I’m a huge advocate of game jams,” Morris tells BeefJack. “When I moved to this area of Germany, there was no indie community, or any sort of game jam events. So, I started up a developers group here, and we now have over 60 developers which I organise. I see game jams as such a positive productive way to explore issues in the industry or genres that we usually don’t have time to explore if we’ve got a job or others things like that, so I really wanted to set up a jam of my own.”

Morris feels strongly on the issue, and swears by jams as a way to challenge socially constructed stigma. “I was inspired after reading Ian Mahars article on Kotaku which was talking about negative depictions of mental illness in videogames,” she continues. “I’ve taken part in quite a lot of jams that have a positive take on social industry issues before like iamagamer which was run by Kimberly Voll in reply to a Gamasutra article that no new games with strong female leads would sell. So, quite often game jams have a positive way of approaching an issue in industry or an issue that has social stigma or something like that.

“The industry is quite under fire at the moment, a lot of issues are being brought up. Often the discussions can get quite aggressive from both sides. Negativity breeds more negativity, so if you do something positive, hopefully it will breed positivity as well. I think it’s best to react using a positive way rather than a negative one; that’s why I think game jams are a good vehicle for this.”

Head over to support Asylum Jam here,  and stay tuned for the full interview with Lucy Morris.

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