Psychonauts 2: How Double Fine’s Game Deals With Mental Problems

Tim Schafer, the creator of Psychonauts 2, encourages developers to treat complex issues with respect and consideration. A crazy good game!


Released on August 25, Psychonauts 2 is an action-platformer we all fell in love with. The new Double Fine game by Tim Schafer stood out, among other things, for its ability to create a myriad of scenarios that represented the minds of different people with different problems and quirks.

The game deals with these issues with great respect and naturalness without being frivolous and taboo. Tim Schafer spoke about this at the International Game Summit on Mental Health. Gamesindustry has published his creative presentation. He focuses on how developers often avoid issues that seem difficult for them and shares his experiences of how they have coped with them.



Tim Schafer talked about how he approached this second part compared to the first and admitted that while he was pleased with the result of the first game, many of the topics that were handled well were just careless, unlike this second part where they were made aware that they needed to address the portrayal of mental health adequately.

There are some deliberate differences between the first and second parts; for example, Raz in the first game attacked the minds of individuals whether they wanted to or not, whereas, in the second title, they have made us aware of the breach involved and seek the consent of the individual first, except in extreme emergencies. Schafer wanted these preliminary conversations between characters before entering their minds to normalize the need for therapy.

Schafer also admitted that they turned to the nonprofit Take This for advice on how to handle these sensitive issues. It seemed to him that, despite the good intentions of the staff, a lack of information and bubbles in various departments meant that some cases had to be overlooked. Still, outside consultants could serve to draw attention to some of these neuralgic points.



The creative one talked about how we protect ourselves with our minds, telling ourselves that we are good people and guided by good intentions, justifying any damage we cause with our toys while putting the person we have hurt at the centre of the problem. Schafer explained that this is just a learning curve that people have to go through and understand that intent is not as important as the effect of words. “You have to consider the impact of your art and how it will be interpreted, that’s the only way to create better art and not hurt people,” Schafer said.

Schafer eventually turned to other developers in hopes that instead of avoiding mental health issues, they would take on the work that comes with them. “Don’t avoid difficult topics; just try to approach them with respect and thoughtfulness,” Schafer advised.

In the words of Tim Schafer and his team, it seems that Psychonauts 2 has evolved in a very respectful way, both in terms of the topics discussed and the working days at Double Fine.

Source: Games Industry

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