Content Warning: This films covers the themes of depression and suicide.
Available November 1 – November 7
When computer games and mental health are mentioned together, the focus is often on the negative impact that gaming addiction can have on mental health. Super Awesome World, by Glasgow-based theatre-maker Amy Conway, offers a different perspective – it’s a show about how the kinds of challenges set by computer games can help you navigate depression
Inspired partly by Amy’s experiences as a Samaritan’s volunteer, Super Awesome World insightfully explores her own depression as well as how to support others. One strategy, she suggests, is in setting yourself the kind of achievable tasks that computer games thrive on.
Super Awesome World was partly inspired by a TED Talk by Jane McGonigal describing a game she’d created to fight chronic illness. As Conway explains: “She’d had a concussion and it had debilitated her so much that she’d wanted to take her own life. Because she was a games designer she was like: ‘well what do I do best?’ She decided to make getting better into a game, and it was through breaking things down into small goals and tasks that she was able to finally make some progress and get out of that dark place. I found it was a great metaphor for talking about some of the difficulties that having a mental illness can throw at you.”
“This show is about a very particular point in my personal mental health journey when I didn’t yet realise I was ill, when I hadn’t yet asked for help, when I thought that the way I was feeling was my fault and a sign that I was fundamentally failing at life. I couldn’t have made the show at that moment in my life; I didn’t have the self-awareness; I wasn’t well enough.
“But a few years later, I had a handle (for the most part) on my depression and had learnt a lot about myself, and my illness, in the process. I was two years into volunteering for the Samaritans and I was struck by how many people that rang in used the same language as I had before I began my recovery. They described themselves and their lives in terms of failure and success, they equated their worth with achievement or what they deemed to be a lack of it.
“I wanted Super Awesome World to be a fun show about depression and I also wanted people to hear these thoughts of not being good enough and of feeling like a failure reflected back at them in a world of videogames where falling flat on your face and having to start again is not only a given, but celebrated as part of the enjoyment of the game narrative.”