Worry Quest: Adventure Games for Fighting Anxiety

Matthew Bambach
MFA candidate, Graphic Design
Maryland Institute College of Art

Worry Quest is an app that helps fill gaps in mental health care experienced by young adults. It uses joy and technology to combat anxiety with simple, proven, psychotherapy techniques. The app lets youth envision themselves as a hero and their anxieties as a personalized monster. From there, they can choose between three different therapy adventures to “defeat their demons,” depending on how they prefer to cope with their own anxiety. Users are directed through a rousing dialogue with their “anxiety demon” and are rewarded along the way with pleasant visuals, sounds, and animations upon completing both tactile and self-reflective activities.

Activities in the app have been conceptualized from participatory research prompts, and are backed by approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, humor and mindfulness practice. The app continues to be developed in consultation with public input, beta testers, and mental health professionals. The app blends information design, interaction design, motion design, game design, user research and cognitive science—accessible through a device that nearly every millennial uses every day. By doing so, Worry Quest will help youth contextualize negative thoughts in an empowering way that affirms psychological agency and encourages positive self-care.
Abstract
Design Incubation Colloquium