Shadow's Edge is the first mobile game for teens and young adults facing serious health challenges. You play to build emotional resilience. Navigate through the beautiful 3D world of Shadow's Edge to uncover the mystery of this shattered city. You find and write journal entries in the pages of the lost black and use stencils to create art on the city's walls and discover what happened to its inhabitants. The more you write the more color and light returns to the city. The writing prompts support you to dig deep into what's going on when facing a serious illness. You get a space where you can express and reflect on everything just for yourself. Or you can share art and motivational messages with others in the in-game shared space Shadowgram. We are partnering with universities to run research to understand the impact on emotional resilience when playing the game. So far players have told us they perceived a significant impact on optimism, a positive self identify and on emotional regulation - all factors that contribute to emotional resilience.
WHO THE GAME IS FOR
Pediatric patients are living longer with complex conditions. But despite medical advances, there hasn't been parallel progress in helping young patients live with the emotional side of their illness. Shadow's Edge hopes to help these young patients and survivors find resilience.
As a young adult, our founder, Sheri Brisson, was a rare, early survivor of an aggressive brain tumor. Only years after she was “cured”, she realized that the effects of her illness went far past the mass in her brain and she still needed to heal emotionally.
In 2013, she started the Digging Deep Project to bring resources to kids dealing with chronic conditions, such as a book with over 35,000 copies distributed to children’s hospitals and organizations and more than 400 published blog articles.
Shadow’s Edge combines Sheri’s expertise with that of technical experts and psychologists into a digital self-help tool.
HOW THE WORLD AND CHARACTERS WERE DESIGNED
Shadow's Edge is a city that has been struck by a disaster, of course representing a diagnosis. In the city live three “Guardians” each representing a stage of passing through emotions associated with illness, namely Disruption, Disillusionment and Discovery. Each Guardian needs the player’s help in completing quests that will eventually revive the city and reunite the Guardians with the people who once lived there.
Along the way, players express themselves in graffiti on the city's walls. Prompted journaling lets players explore themselves, their life, and the impact of their illness. Connectedness is a key component for building emotional resilience. In the in-game Shadowgram, teens can share their art, inspiring and being inspired by other players.
As players express themselves, they are rewarded by seeing the city come back to life. Plants grow; buildings are repaired; Shadow's Edge transforms with the player's progress; light, music, weather, all change. With more insight, the player can climb higher, get more tools to paint and unlock features.
For sick teens, control can be elusive. Shadow’s Edge puts players in the driver’s seat, allowing them to explore healing at their own pace, in their own way, while taking an active role in their emotional health. The game lets teens reflect on their journey while gaining the skills needed to incorporate the experience of their illness into who they are - during the teens and early adult years where identity is formed. Shadow’s Edge is without judgement or real-life consequence which allows experimentation and builds confidence, resilience, mastery and autonomy.
IMPACT STUDY DETAILS
Our psychological study of 55 young players, each of whom played the game at least 20 minutes/day shows that it works. Questions measuring the “built” component of resilience administered before, at midpoint and after a month of gameplay, show that teens were especially able to improve on measures of Proactive Coping and Optimism.
Resources promoting the emotional health of sick teens are limited. Shadow's Edge steps into this space, providing a palatable way to explore challenging issues and connect with a likeminded community. A major US children's hospital is now setting up a next study to start in September 2018. We will publish the details on our website soon.
WHAT IMPACT ARE WE BUILDING FOR
No game cures serious illness, but Shadow’s Edge supports the emotional health of young patients as they:
• gain perspective to adapt to health challenges
• become aware of, express, and manage the full range of emotions
• feel more confident and accepting of themselves
• feel less burdened with emotion
• address challenges proactively
• reach out and share more with others
• derive meaning from, and find pride in their story
• feel less alone, empathize with, and learn from an understanding community
• maintain a growth mindset that helps to rebuild their life
• transfer learning—embrace one’s journey in real life