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  • 1.
    Alves, Thiago
    University of Skövde, School of Informatics.
    Exploring Underrepresented Narratives: Social Anxiety in Games2018Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    This research focuses on pushing forward the understanding of mental disorders portrayals in games, more specifically social anxiety, which still lies as a marginalized topic in this medium. In order to understand honest manifestations of social anxiety in games, the first step is to conduct a close reading of games made by people who suffer from this mental disorder. A collection of five indie games, all of autobiographical nature and featuring social anxiety as an important part of their text, was put together for this analysis. This was done embracing the need to address the representational complexity, in order to tap into such a nuanced and elusive topic as social anxiety, not to identify rights or wrongs, but to engage in a discussion of how experiences are represented in games by people directly affected by this mental disorder. Individual experiences also contribute to expand interpretations and to identify additional keys of social anxiety representation. This is done by reaching informants, people living with a comorbid mental illnesses or disorders, that face or had faced social anxiety, and assess their perspectives through an experiential workshop. This work intends to further explore the practice of game design as mediator of experiences, contributing to both deepen the knowledge of game design and explore nuances of individual experiences present in autobiographical games and how this relates to perspectives of other people living with social anxiety. By combining the games and informants perspectives it is possible to structure a debate about game design patterns based on the findings of the game analysis and further elaborated with the nuanced perceptions gathered from informants. The knowledge acquired through this work is a step towards understanding of how games can represent, in an honest and non-stereotypical way, mental disorders, starting with social anxiety and, hopefully, contribute to spark other studies to broaden the spectrum of how the complexity of adverse mental conditions can be more respectfully addressed in games.

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