Digital Media Student Raises Mental Illness Awareness Through Video Game

Emilia Hernandez

A video game developer is drawing awareness to mental illness and sexual assault by incorporating them into her video games.

Digital Media student Emilia Hernandez has participated in three video game creation competitions where her projects focused on meaningful and serious topics, including sexual assault and depression.

“I think it’s important to discuss mental health and other issues through all sorts of media because it has the potential to get a lot of reach. It’s easy to share,” said Hernandez, who is part of UCF’s Association for Computing Machinery – Women in Tech.

Hernandez incorporates the discussion of sexual assault into her video game “Her Bedtime Stories” by telling the story of a young woman who was sexually assaulted and how she deals with the trauma. Players can expect to experience quick glimpses of the life of someone who has not completely processed trauma. The six dream-like levels give a glimpse of a victim’s common feelings and memories. Hernandez normally finishes her games on a positive note to spread the message that things can get better.

Part of the reason Hernandez created these video games is because she has dealt with mental illness herself. According to Pew Research Center, about 21 % of U.S. adults have experienced high levels of psychological distress with nearly 28% of those who say the outbreak has changed their lives in “a major way.” Hernandez found her art as a useful form of therapy.

Hernandez hopes the project not only offers a glimpse into what how people cope with trauma, but discourages future sexual assault when a potential offender understands the long-term impact of their actions.

“I think it’s important for people to use their voice. I think in my case this way was the best way I could express myself,” Hernandez said.


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