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Gamify your mental health. Last week I wrote about the secrets of difficulty in D&D 5e. This week, I want to talk about a different set of challenges: mental health. I want to explore how gamers and geeks like me can use game mechanics and the psychology of game design to level up our mental health, drawing upon lessons from survival games, RPGs, MMOs, and puzzles. Like a lot of folks, many of us gamers have some struggles in the area of mental health. Yeah, we can tend toward escapism. In fact, I’ll start off with a confession: I myself have struggled a lot with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem in my life, among other issues. But I’ve had the fortune to learn and develop some mental tools on all this, and I want to share the the best ones with you, in two parts. To start, I’ll run through 10 tools then provide a summary of the gamification concepts at the end. Time to level up your brain!
Difficulty, Danger, and Death. Have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons, like D&D 5e, and noticed how Monster Encounter Difficulty becomes increasingly unpredictable at high-level? Ever wondered why? Conversely, ever had a low-level Total Party Kill (TPK)? The traits that really make encounters in D&D 5e difficult or dangerous, don’t always boil down to Challenge Rating. What makes for Deadly Encounters? Using this guide, you as a Dungeon Master can better balance encounters, or just adjust difficulty up or down dramatically. And you as a D&D Player can approach the game more tactically. I contrast Apparent Challenge Rating and Actual Challenge Rating, and discuss Challenge Rating Instability. Beyond just Action Economy Parity, inspired by projects like The Monsters Know, I examine how Supplies, Schema, Status, Space, Structure, and Strategy all shape Game Balance.
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