Dealing with grief can be especially challenging during the holiday season. A unique study launched by a team at the Indiana University Bloomington Luddy School of Informatics is examining how video games might help. The study was prompted by a senior thesis project that wanted to see how games are designed to engage users.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business of Health reporter Kylie Veleta, IU Assistant Professor of Informatics Dr. Christina Chung said the team is analyzing the elements of the game that are most important.
“We are using it as a medium to understand for example, in this particular case, how games design can help people to engage people with kind of reflecting and kind of thinking about their process of grieving,” said Chung. “We actually look at this particular topic, because this is a very kind of a niche topics that we don’t see a lot of kind of interactive technology in these fields.”
The team is looking at one video game in particular called GRIS, which means gray in Spanish. It has sold over one million copies.
Players interact with the storyline of a young woman lost and sorrow. Her world begins in black and white and as the player completes each level of grief with her a coinciding color is brought back to her world.
“For example, like when you are sad, and then after that they give you like kind of green. And then as you’re going through a stage of anger and they give you color red, so like they kind of build on colors in all the stages,” explained Chung.
Chung says this gaming technology is not meant to replace therapies or getting help from professionals, but it could complement those things. Right now, there are four participants, and they may enroll as many as 10. The team understands the very nature of grieving may make it difficult for people to participate.
“This is a very difficult topic for people to talk about. And also, for people to be willing to share that with strangers, right, and then also play games,” said Chung.
Chung says their results may help video developers design mental health programs that work best for future technologies to support grief counselors.