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       Mind games: Totem's top 10 serious games for mental health and well-being    In  2000 , the Mental Health Foundation started ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.  The first issue focused on was ‘Stigma’. Since then there’s been Exercise, Sleep, Anxiety and many more. This year the focus is on  Mindfulness ; a mind – body approach to wellbeing.  Did you know one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness every year, yet despite its prevalence in society there's still a stigma attached to it. The games featured aim to help understand mental illness better. There are also games featured for individual wellbeing and how to look after it.        






          Depression Quest     This isn't a representation of all people who suffer from depression. Devised to grow awareness of depression and empathy for sufferers.  Depression Quest  has a received a mixed reception. The game is played as a story; the player reads text then chooses a given action. Future choices become blocked off depending on previous choices made.      






     Photographs feature at the top of the text. As the depression worsens static creeps into the photos. This grabbed my attention. A recent study observed that sufferers from depression experience  fuzzy thinking . The static seems to reflect that. I’ve heard there are four endings, I'm confident I can predict at least one of them. One play through proved emotionally taxing enough for me though.  Worth noting: there’s a warning to those who suffer from depression or anxiety NOT to play the game. Serious stuff!       Elude    Similar in focus to ‘Depression Quest’ with gameplay closer to Doodle Jump.  Elude  aims to show users the highs and lows a sufferer of depression experiences. The protagonist is a teenage/young adult male, statistically the highest risk demographics for suicide. The goal is to climb the trees and soar into the sky. Falling can result in a hole too big to climb out of. A simple metaphor for a complicated illness.  There is a summary of your journey that's a befitting addition to the game. How many times did you experience ‘happiness’?     






          Nevermind    Incorporating new technology  Nevermind  is the first on the list to use biofeedback. The gameplay reacts to the player's stress levels. In a stressful situation players must calm their emotions to continue moving forward. Like all great Serious Games, the lesson learned can applied to real life scenarios, resulting in reduced stress and promoting emotional wellbeing.       












       This adventure horror isn't for the faint hearted. A captivating gameplay mixing harsh realities and magical fairytales. Anyone who enjoyed Alice Madness Returns is sure to appreciate the graphics and story of Nevermind!        Super Be     TTER    This is a social online game. It's designed to build up core strengths – mental, physical, emotional and social wellbeing.  Players set their ‘Epic Win’, their ultimate goal which becomes the focus. Smaller activities are also set and once completed equate to ‘power ups’ to use against ‘bad guys’ – emotional stressing events. It’s an interesting game proven to boost a player’s wellbeing and personal growth. I’m a new user to  Super Better  but so far I have found it encouraging and engaging.     






          Lumosity    Developed by neuroscientists, a huge team is involved in monitoring the effectiveness of  Lumosity . The aim is to “improve core brain abilities—and empower users to live better, brighter lives”.  The mini-games are fun and challenging. I’m playing on a limited access version but I’ve already increased my attention levels. This can be played online or on your phone.        









              Lumosity, Fish Game  



         MindLight    This immersive game uses therapeutic techniques to teach children to manage their emotions. The goal is to turn on all the lights in the mansion, overcoming fears and saving Granny. The player wears a neurofeedback device which monitors specific brain waves - relaxation and focused attention. Nominated on  Games For Change  for the Most Significant Impact award this is one to watch. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this game.   Mindlight 's graphics are gorgeously cute too!       












            Skip a Beat     Using your iPhone or iPod touch, this game monitors and incorporates your heart rate. There are four modes to choose from - Zen, Balance, Spicy and Master! The goal is to teach how coffee, a stressful day at work, even posture effects heart rate. This gives the player an insight into their own mind, body and general wellbeing.  This  is an upcoming area in the games industry, expect to see a lot more health games and apps like this soon!       












            Happify       Not a game in itself but there are minigames!  Happify  trains your brain to be healthier. Depending on personality and goals the route differs. Players can focus on all different kinds of tasks. Small positives or re-connecting with an old friend, the aim is to grow self-esteem and wellbeing. There is a Beta App or you can ‘play’ online, the choice is yours.       












            Flowy     This game is specifically for people with anxiety but I think anyone can benefit from playing it if they are stressed and need to relax. Tailored to the players own breathing patterns, the player must concentrate their breathing into regular smaller breaths while collecting items to complete levels.  Flowy  is still in the experimental stages but the developers have done their research. This game is going to help a lot of people!       


















            Mindsnacks    A language learning game! Learning a second language has been proven to increase brain size. The benefits of a second language are plentiful! Obviously there is the added bonus of not ordering a lemon when you actually meant a Citroen at the car hire in a Paris airport. But learning a second language has shown to increase memory abilities, cognitive skills and individuals are generally better mentally flexible.  Mindsnacks  are a great way to start learning a second language. Whatever language you choose there are minigames which teach you vocabulary in an exciting and competitive way – challenging your brain and keeping it active!     






     Now is the perfect time to start learning that second language. Next week's blog will be focused on the best games out there for learning a new language, all in time for your holidays!  There are a couple of games that are worth mentioning but didn’t make the list due to either not being released yet or no longer playable.       Guided Meditation VR    Not so much a game, but it uses gaming technology and deserves a mention. This is a virtual reality application which is due for launch alongside the consumer Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It enables the user to be transported to a beautiful relaxing environment. Because the virtual reality headset has 360 degree visuals it is completely immersive – the user can escape to meditate in their chosen environment, even in their lunch break at work! At the moment voting is open so you can vote on locations, meditation options and more, or make suggestions of your own.     






     Soar – currently in development by  E-Learning Studio  s , the player is a bird in a world of grey. The object is to bring back colour to the world. The game will work with a heart monitoring device and aims to relieve stress through immersive escapism and breathing exercises.  Neuroracer – I just stumbled onto this game. It’s basically a driving game where the player has to mulit-task, working on the players cognitive, memory and multi-tasking skills. Research was undertaken with a group of individuals of all ages and there were some really positive results. The full study can be read on  Gazzaley .  I have trawled the site for recent news but short of a rumour on a mobile version being released, I haven’t been able to find anything.  Mental Illness is a real issue. A bit cliché, but if you don’t have your health, what have you got? These games deal with a variety of areas of mental health. Whether it's for creating awareness and empathy for sufferers or stimulating the brain, helping work towards a better, happier version of yourself. Appreciate life and be Mindful!  Don't forget to let us know your thoughts using the #TL10 on twitter. 



In 2000, the Mental Health Foundation started ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.  The first issue focused on was ‘Stigma’. Since then there’s been Exercise, Sleep, Anxiety and many more. This year the focus is on Mindfulness; a mind – body approach to wellbeing.

Did you know one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness every year.


       Totem's top 10 serious games for UK politics    Today’s the day for the 2015 General Election! Have you all been avidly following the news? Keeping informed on the world of Politics? Polling offices close at 22:00 but as long as you are in the queue before then you can still vote – a handy fact I learned from 'Election Game', featured below!  There was no question what the theme for this week’s list would be. Politics, Government, Voting and Party Issues are all covered! Keeping it ‘close to home’ this week to ensure maximum relevance.        






     First off and possibly the most relevant for today:  Election Game  -  Developed by Sponge UK, this short game is packed full of the do’s and don’ts of the voting procedure – from polling station opening times to unacceptable behaviour when carrying out your vote. Signing the ballot paper with kisses or making up your own political figure to vote for just won’t be accepted in this game!          



              Verto -  informing your vote.   









        Verto  – A very useful app for people who are unsure who to vote for. Take the quiz and order issues in priority of importance, the app will then suggest the party that best matches with the answers given. Previously there was a ‘call to action’ button built in so users could easily register to vote; on their website they boast over 500,000 people have registered after using Verto.           












        MP for a Week  – This was a pretty challenging game. It goes in depth to an average week of an MP. Play as the opposition or in Government, both roles prove a challenge. Keeping public opinion and the media on your side while balancing personal and party views, will you make it a week in parliament?        






      Ballot Bots  - A ‘10’ level puzzle game packed with facts and smatterings of questions to answer on current politics. Developed by the BBC, it can be played online or on your phone, be wary of those campaign pitfalls though!        






      Campaign Trail  – Another game brought to you by the same group who created ‘MP for a Week’, ‘catch’ people who will vote in favour of your cause, convince those on the side-lines and avoid those in opposition. This game teaches different practices used to raise awareness while testing your reflexes.  Think you can do better than any of the parties around today? Why not try your hand at running your own country then? See how easy it is, or isn’t! As there aren’t too many non-biased ‘serious’ serious games on the market to finish of this list, delivering the promised ten, the following five games all put you in charge as decision maker.        






      Democracy 3  – Available on Steam, this was recommended to me by a fellow Totemite. It is a very addictive game with the freedom to rule the country how you see fit. Oppress the people or bend to the population’s every whim, it is up to you! In this game you will have no one to blame but yourself for the state of the country. BONUS: it is currently on offer on Steam!        



              Nationstate, Logo, Politics  



      Nation State  – The game that lets the player decide every aspect of their civilisation – the name, money (or ‘the monies’ in the ‘Land of Bored and Unmotivated’), what kind of people live there, when were they discovered, ideologies and religion and so on. I’ve only just started a civilisation but I am looking forward to growing my own personal civilisation and seeing what the Nation State community has to offer!        






      Zeus: Master of Olympus  – A favourite of mine as a child, I recently spent hours trailing the internet to find a copy of this game! Sierra need to bring it back! There are various missions set to Greek mythology, the player builds up their city, balancing wages, taxes, imports, exports and so on. There are other cities who can be allies or rivals; using politics and careful espionage it is possible to change their views but if that sounds like too much effort, war is an option. Many hours spent playing this along with others in the series developed by Impressions Games. This is a game for people who want to run the country but not a modern country, with real issues, instead this is for the player who enjoys reacting to Poseidon attacking your little fishing village or a Hydra randomly appearing in your mine.        






      Civili  z  ation  – Has to be mentioned! A similar but more accurately historical game than ‘Zeus’, it is rich with historical figures. There are multiple ways to win ranging from a unique space program to total domination of the world. This game series produced a generation of dedicated fans; Civilization V was released by 2K in 2010 but the community is still going strong today.        






      Branches of Power  – Developed by Filament Games, the player explores the control different branches of government possess and the limitations attached. There are a lot of aspects to juggle while playing this game, as in real politics, less time taxing than Nation State and Democracy.  Happy voting everyone, exercise your right to vote – or don’t, as is also your right.  Not strictly all serious games in this post but they are relevant for today and hopefully you found them useful and informative. Don't forget to let us know your thoughts using the #TL10 on twitter. 



Today’s the day! Have you all been avidly following the news? Keeping informed? Polling offices close at 22:00 but as long as you are in the queue before then you can still vote –