Whispers in the Dark Ep. 87: Tropes Interrupted

On this grounded episode of the Whispers‘ podcast, Kyle and I talk about the portrayal of mental illness in horror games. Prepare for some heartfelt criticism of the genre for demonizing illnesses that still lack full understanding in society. We talk about our personal experiences, examples of poor representation, and resources those suffering can utilize (like Take This). The horror genre needs to get past asylums and “schizos”, right? Better games will come out of leaving those tropes behind.

Please leave feedback, share, subscribe, and give us a nice review on iTunes when you’re done listening!

Host: CJ Melendez
Co-Hosts: Kyle Campbell

Duration: 00:41:56
File Size: 23.9 MB
Format: MP3

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Intro: Alternating Dilemmas – Cyanotic

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  • Wojciech Olczyk

    look who’s back 😉

  • Andy

    I have anxiety, depression, OCD and ADD. I’ve had ADD since I was in 1st grade and I was held back in 1st grade because I was not ready for 2nd grade yet. I have also had OCD for a long time. I need things in a certain way and order it’s kind of hard to explain but everyone’s OCD is different.

    But I discovered I had anxiety when I was 21 and I had a couple anxiety attacks and I did go to the emergency room and I did not get on meds until a year ago and I’m now 27 and I take anxiety and high blood pressure medication. I don’t get annoyed when games or movies have the settings of an insane asylum or whatever. But I do agree that game developers, writers and directors need to have better ideas for survival horror games and horror movies.

    Some personal info about me but who cares we are all friends here.

    Good podcast guys. 🙂

    • Thanks! Glad to see you’re taking the measures to keep yourself healthy. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ahmad Al-Hamily

    That’s was an enlightening episode. I’ve been through my share of disfunction and I agree it’s not pretty especially when stress hinders your ability to speak.

    However, I’ve noticed that some individuals would use mental illness as a gimmick to be “cool” there is this one guy at work who keeps saying he has OCD without consulting a specialist.

    He’s claim was based on how he likes everything neat and in order. That’s not even close to what OCD really does to person.

    Like Kyle said. You don’t know what the heck is going on and you’re not aware of whatever happening to you and it’s just a struggle and not amusing at all.

    So whether people use it as a gimmick to horrify or be cool. Just stop and take a moment to think. Are you willing to feel disfunctional from the inside out? Something you can’t see is running your life and you don’t know why? A broken hand could be mended ’cause you can see it broken but mental illness is something that hits without a hint.

  • Zachariah

    Growing up, the doctors I’ve had have had a lot of trouble with me. For awhile I was diagnosed ADHD and Bipolar, then years later they diagnosed me Asbergers, and most recently(5 years ago from a better doctor, I believe) I was diagnosed High Functioning Autistic which they say is just a very broad label.

    When I was younger I had severe anger problems(I was a horrid monster of a child) and their answer was to just pump me full of medication. I was on so many pills that constantly were switched for other pills that I was just an unstable wreck for most of my childhood. Add in my homosexuality and severe fears of being outed, i was paranoid and anxious constantly. My mental state from age 10-15 was honestly hell. I even ended up REFUSING to finish school in 8th grade because of anxiety towards people finding out about me.

    And what’s worse is that the pills were atleast a part of the cause of my childhood instability as after I turned 15 I just flat out stopped taking them and I started feeling and acting much better.

    Also, real quick about Evil Within: I don’t really consider it to be putting mentally ill people in a bad light. The only actual character with mental illness was Leslie(from what I remember) and he was portrayed in a pretty positive light. All of the monsters are just people Ruvik has fucked up and turned into literal zombies. Hell, the game paints them in a sympathetic light when its revealed they were basically fed to Ruvik’s machine.

    • Thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear your childhood was so tough 🙁 But things are better now that everything has been correctly diagnosed?

      As for TEW – the game perpetuates the whole asylum thing, but as for Leslie, the devs didn’t seem to care for him either. In the art book he’s just described as annoying on purpose. He’s supposed to be mentally ill but they consider him annoying? Not a fan of that.

      • Yeah, I’ve gotten much better since I got rid of the medication 4 years ago.

        And I did not know about that artbook thing, yikes. Yeah, that isn’t exusable.

  • Cheshire TrollCat

    Might be a little late. It’s funny to hear you talk about mental illness without ever living with someone who has a severe mental condition. My dad is literally crazy, he screams constantly (all night, i barely sleep), destroys things around the house, and has been in and out of mental hospitals. I hate it. I was playing outlast one day, and paused the game for a bathroom break. I heard him screaming and thought it was the game. My point is, that mental illness is both disturbing and scary. You shouldn’t shit on game devs that use it well to create a great horror experience like Outlast and it’s DLC. Fuck you, and goodbye.


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