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MindMaze: The Exploration of Trauma in Memories

By Ben Ginzberg, Izzy Schwartz, Xueqing Hu and Jianhao Ma

Concept overview

Mental health is an extremely important topic. However, it can be difficult to talk about, and despite their struggles many prefer to suffer in silence. Mindmaze hopes to change that. Mindmaze is a 3rd person RPG where players explore their character’s subconscious to work through mental health issues. With numerous rooms of hidden memories, secrets, and events that affect mental health, Mindmaze helps players connect with a character who faces their same struggles. By working through their character’s grief, players will be able to identify their own triggers, and identify helpful and safe coping mechanisms that can help them work through their issues. Mindmaze is the perfect way for players to explore the complexities of mental care through a well-designed and immersive experience. Mindmaze provides them with a safe space, one that they might struggle to find beyond the game. 

Statement of Need

Caring for mental health is a vital aspect of self-care. It is often difficult to admit that you are struggling, and talk to others about it. Recently, the onset of the COVID pandemic left many young children and young adults struggling with anxiety, depression, and traumatic experiences from quarantine or getting sick. Something must be done to help address the mental health issues of the younger generations. One of the ways to reach young adults and kids is through games and stories. Stories can help people work through their own mental health issues on their own, and help discover ways to take care of themselves. With this game, learners will play through a game that will connect with them to better their mental health. This game connects with a younger generation that uses technology constantly, and thus was designed solely to aid those who are in need.


Concept description

Mindmaze is a role-playing game in which players navigate a character's subconscious mind to solve mental health problems. Hidden memories, secrets, and events affecting mental health are included in the game, encouraging players to connect with the character and work through their character's grief. As players explore these memories, they will discover more about their character’s relationship with the deceased, and how their grief has affected their actions. The game is intended for players over the age of 13 and teaches the value of self-care, identifying triggers, and developing coping strategies. It provides mental health resources and allows players to skip any topics that make them uncomfortable or exit the game if they become distressed. Mindmaze uses game theory, the personalization principle, and cognitive load theory to develop decision-making skills, personalized learning, and reduce cognitive load, while also providing a safe space for people to learn how to care for themselves. Mindmaze delivers as a safe space to discover mental health resources and coping mechanisms, while providing an immersive experience they can connect with. 



Our main audience will be children above the age of 13. There will be some difficult themes within the game, but these themes are also vital to understanding mental health. This will be especially helpful within the age range of 13-30, as the rise in mental health issues amongst younger generations has increased within the last few years.


Players: Aged 13+

Platform: PC/Mac (download)

Warnings: Depression, Mental Health Issues, Trauma, Some scenes not suitable for young audiences.

Learning Goals

There are a number of learning goals associated with Mindmaze. Academically, students will be able to explain the stages of grief, and the different ways grief can affect a person’s actions. Beyond the academic purpose, it can also help users identify their own personal issues, promote self-affirmation, and promote the importance of self-care. Using the game, players will be able to discover useful and healthy coping strategies for their own grief, and learn how and when to ask for support. Grief and mental health are vital topics to discuss, and Mindmaze will help students find a way to explore these topics through a gamified educational experience, giving them a safe space to explore the connection between the game and their own experiences.

Learning content


The learning content is a character focused narrative. The story focuses on a teen who is struggling with depression and trauma. Throughout the course of the narrative the teen explores and reflects on their memories and emotions tied to the events of their trauma, eventually leading them to valuable insights (ie: To love and value themself, that it’s ok to ask for help, and that sometimes it's ok to not be ok). By looking through the eyes of the protagonist, players who are facing similar struggles,can learn about the importance of self-affirmation and self-care, how to identify their own triggers, and learn helpful coping strategies that they can use to help them through their own struggles. A list of mental health resources can be accessed at any time through a link in the main UI. 


Because the game focuses on topics of depression, mental health, and trauma, some individuals who are facing similar issues might feel distressed when playing the game. To address this, each section of the game will display the topic and theme of the section in the top right of the screen. Players can skip any topics they do not feel comfortable with, and an exit button can be accessed from the main UI at any time if a player is feeling distressed and needs to take a breather. 

Learning theories

There are three different theories we focused on while creating Mindmaze, detailed below. 


Games theory:

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that provides a framework for analyzing decision-making in situations involving multiple people or groups. It entails simulating various scenarios in which each individual or group has different options or strategies at their disposal and analyzing how these options or strategies can lead to different outcomes. By playing this game, players are enabled to develop decision-making skills and understanding the consequences of their actions on themselves and others.


Personalization Principle:

According to the personalization principle, people learn better when learning materials are presented in a conversational or personalized tone(Educ5104g, 2020). This principle is applied in the game by role-playing of the player following the narrative which giving the player a sense of personalization and being addressed directly.


Cognitive load theory: 

Sweller (1988) defines cognitive load theory as a psychological theory that describes how the brain processes information and how our working memory has limited processing capacity, affecting our ability to learn and retain new information. This game's design attempts to reduce extraneous cognitive load by simplifying the interface and providing clear instructions, allowing players to focus on the task and narrative's essential components.


Educ5104g, P. I. (2020, April 10). The Personalization Principle. Pressbooks.,instead%20of%20passively%20receiving%20information.

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive Load during Problem-Solving: Effects on Learning. Cognitive Science, 12, p.257-285.

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