Titled “Owen” after the main character and his experiences, this Virtual Reality video game juxtaposes two unlikely fields: technological advances and mental health. Pitched and developed by my friend, Pauline Yang, along with her team at the Stanford Clinical Neuroscience Immersion Experience, Owen aims to humanize those with mental illness through real-life scenarios and a pick-your-fate style inspired largely by TellTale Games. It initially began with a concentration in schizophrenia, but due to its complexity, it was changed to depression (which nonetheless demands attention and awareness). The idea proved a finalist at Stanford Brainstorm Lab, and since them, her team has been working to bring Owen to life and mental health to light; however, they have not yet working with software and programming.
“Owen” inspires me because, coming from San Francisco, near the Silicon Valley, it’s easy to associate technology with privilege. However, using (or planning to use) programming skills to promote mental health awareness makes me feel hopeful for the generations who will be met with an abundance of resources in years.