Video game backed by Peterborough mental health professionals gets nine BAFTA nominations

An image from the game
An image from the game
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A computer game which gives an insight into psychosis and was backed by Peterborough mental health professionals has been shortlisted for nine BAFTAs.

Staff from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) worked with Ninja Theory, the Cambridge-based company behind Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Paul Fletcher

Paul Fletcher

Professor Paul Fletcher, academic lead for CPFT’s adult and specialist directorate, together with students from the Trust’s Recovery College East, acted as special advisors to Ninja Theory.

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 their pathway to recovery.

'Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice' is the first game to use state-of-the-art techniques to evoke the voices and visions experienced by people who live with psychosis.

The game uses a binaural technique that mimics 3D human hearing – players experience visual and auditory hallucinations as if they are Senua and 'hear' voices just behind them, or whispering in their ear.

Professor Paul Fletcher, who is honorary consultant with CPFT, said: ''I am delighted that Ninja Theory has been nominated for so many awards for 'Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice'.

“They have done something risky but important, and potentially valuable in representing experiences that most people find deeply alien. The fact that they are doing so in a firstperson subjective viewpoint in a game setting, which demands that the player fully engages with the experience rather than simply passively observing it, makes it all the more powerful and has already got people on the internet and in the media talking in an engaged, thoughtful and respectful way about the nature of these experiences and what it must feel like to have them."

Paul, who is also Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow, added: “Critically, for me, the heroine, Senua, is not a weak or broken figure. She is frightened and bewildered but she is also courageous, dignified and determined and I feel that these attributes are there because of what they Ninja Theory team experienced in their extensive interactions and discussions with the people at CPFT and Recovery College.''

The game has just received the most nominations in the BAFTA 2018 Games Awards, across Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, Best Game, British Game, Game Beyond Entertainment, Game Innovation, Music, Narrative and Performer. The awards ceremony, hosted by Dara O’Briain, takes place on Thursday 12 April at Troxy, London.