Film critic Roger Ebert famously referred to movies as “empathy machines” and games are no different. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was one of those special titles in the medium that gave players a polygonal glimpse of what living with psychosis was like. And now developer Ninja Theory is now taking that one step further by starting Senua’s Scholarship, which will help fund training for mental health tutors.
This is a collaboration between the studio and Cambridge Recovery College East. Dominic Matthews, commercial director at Ninja Theory, discussed the matter with Tracey Bartlett with Recover College East. Matthews talked about how the relationship started when development began on Hellblade as they used the college for consulting. This scholarship is next phase of that relationship.
“This scholarship will provide an amazing opportunity every year for a student to train with us to become a tutor,” said Bartlett. “They show people the opportunities of life beyond diagnosis, what can be possible. And for the one person who receives this scholarship every year, they will also be able to look at a new career perhaps or return to an old career following a diagnosis or significant sort of mental health challenge.”
As described by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust website, the person who gets the scholarship will be “supported by the college team to develop their training skills and work towards a professional training qualification.” This means they can use this qualification as a means to pursue a career in adult education. The CPFT also states that many tutors also suffer from mental health challenges, which aligns with its goal to have a “collaborative, educational learning environment and aims to convey messages of hope, empowerment, and opportunity to all.”
This isn’t the only time Ninja Theory has given back for World Mental Health Day. On October 10, 2017, the British studio pledged to donate the proceeds from that day’s sales of Hellblade to Rethink, a mental health charity in the United Kingdom. Ninja Theory then offered in April 2018 to give $25,000 to Mental Health America if the game’s Xbox One version sold 50,000 units in its first week and $50,000 if it sold 100,000 copies. The game didn’t quite reach 100,000 units but Ninja Theory donated $50,000 anyway; $25,000 in April and the other $25,000 in August.