Computer game developers get psychosis advice from CPFT

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which features psychosis was developed after input from Prof Paul Fletcher and students from CPFT’s Recovery College East

Computer game developers get psychosis advice from CPFT
08 August 2017

Staff and Recovery College East students at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust have helped develop a ground-breaking computer game which gives an insight into experiences of psychosis.

Professor Paul Fletcher, academic lead for CPFT’s adult and specialist directorate (right), together with students from the Trust’s Recovery College East acted as special advisors to Ninja Theory, the Cambridge-based company behind Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.


In game the central character, Celtic warrior Senua, has mental health challenges which have been brought on by trauma.

Prof Paul Fletcher, who is also the Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience and Psychiatrist at the University of Cambridge, said: “I was delighted to meet the team at Ninja Theory and to find that they were committed to treating the question of psychosis with respect and honesty. They wanted to create a character who is beset by strange experiences, voices and visions but not someone who is defined by these experiences. I was also deeply impressed by the fact that they didn’t want to take an easy and simple path - they were willing to take on the challenge that psychosis is not just about hearing voices but rather reflects a whole different way of experiencing and making sense of the world and of one’s place in it.

“It became apparent to me that they were doing something that was risky but important, and potentially valuable in representing experiences that most people find deeply alien. The fact that they are doing so in a first-person subjective viewpoint in a game setting, which demands that the player fully engages with the experience rather than simply passively observing it, really excites me. Indeed, it provides a great opportunity to show, in the context of the game, that all of us are creating our own worlds and realities all the time.”

Tracey Bartlett, Recovery College East Manager, said: “We were incredibly excited to be involved. The team who designed the game spent over two years speaking to our students, getting their expert opinion. It really valued their lived experience. Mental health challenges are something we should all be talking about and this is something that will help to further reduce stigma and increase awareness.”

Ninja Theory, the Bafta-nominated studio behind award-winning games such as DmC: Devil May Cry, Enslaved: Odyssey to The West and Heavenly Sword, spent three years developing the game including two years speaking to students at CPFT’s Recovery College East. With bases in Cambridge and Peterborough, the Recovery College East offers a wide range of courses to help people develop new skills or increase their understanding of their own or other mental health challenges and thir eir pathway to recovery.

Tameem Antoniades, Co-founder and Chief Creative from game-developer Ninja Theory, said: “Psychosis is still steeped in stigma but it is a deeply fascinating subject and deserves to be explored, experienced and shared. While a videogame can only go so far, we worked with service-users, voice-hearers and other groups collaboratively for two years and far from restricting our creativity, it has opened our eyes and greatly enriched the experience.”   You can read more about how Tameem's experience on working on the game and how his understanding of the mind changed here.


Contact details
For more information please contact:
Adrian Ient
Communications Manager
E adrian.ient@cpft.nhs.uk 
T 01223 219470

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

IIP-logo-reversed Mindful-employer NHS-Employers-web Triangle-of-Care-member Twitter Logo Youtube Logo Facebook Logo Instagram Logo Wordpress Logo