Creative, Broken Brains

It’s World Mental Health Day today. This isn’t something I’d planned to have ImagiNation out for, but there it is.

As I have, doubtless, bored you all to tears over by now I suffer from depression and it has been particularly bad this last couple of weeks. That means all I can really bring myself to do is lay around and beat myself up for not working harder. My depression most often manifests in a bone-weary tiredness, lack of concentration and self-belief. Qualities obviously necessary in the self-employed.

Weirdly, people say I’m very productive but I would be a lot more so without these issues.

I believe gaming can help people with a broad range of issues and I know I have personally benefited from the escape and the opportunity to safely deal with some of the things that grind me down. I’ve also seen it help people with anxiety, social disorders, autism spectrum issues and others.

Gaming is many things, role-playing is many things. It can be purely a game, it can be an exercise in art and self expression. It can be taken seriously and it can be entirely frivolous. I’m not suggesting that every game session be therapy, but just that it presents a safe environment in which we – as players or especially the GM – have a massive degree of control that we don’t have in real life, and a safety net from the fact that outside the game there are no consequences.

Here’s a direct link to my game inspired by my experiences. Something I have made to explore these issues and their link with creativity. It’s a stereotype but it’s one that fitted well for the purposes of a game.


You are free to host, torrent, copy and distribute ImagiNation anywhere you want and however you want so long as you don’t charge.

Hardcopies can be bought HERE at close-to-cost.

3 responses to “Creative, Broken Brains

  1. Hi James,

    Thank you very much for making this system & this game; I think it’s very important & will lead to amazing things. I followed the breadcrumbs back here from a post on Klint Finley’s blog Technoccult. I had a few questions if you’ll humor me:

    * If one has never been much of a gamer at all, do you figure The Description System is easier to get into & stick with than, say, old school AD&D? I joke I lack a competitive gene, but it may be more truthful to say that I’ve been depressive for so much of my life that I don’t know how to focus my energies towards competition, even when the only competitor is me.

    * Can you recommend a site or forum for networking with other gamers in one’s area who might be interested in starting campaigns under this system, with an eye towards using it for its healing properties?

    * In the last 4 months since its release, have you noticed any benefit to yourself or heard of any of its players markedly improving their mental health as a result of playing? I would hope it’d be obvious, but what does that look like when it manifests?

    Thank you once again. I hope you are treating yourself better than it sounds like you were when this went up; you obviously deserve better.

    Best regards,
    Ken Applebaum

    • I think The Description System is pretty easy to grasp. I know a lot of first-time gamers have come to it and found it relatively easy to understand. The more general idea of a game without a board that takes place as a conversation can be harder for people to grasp and is best served by example. MUCH easier than AD&D though 🙂

      Social Networks are good for finding other players. There are various communities on Facebook etc where you can find roleplayers. ENWorld – I think – has a game/player finder. Forums aren’t as important as social media these days for connections. G+ in particular has a thriving gamer community but you need an ‘in’. People are also playing various games online a lot.

      I don’t get to play as much as I would like myself but the positive feedback from others playing the game and sharing their thoughts on the more general point. My personal depression has been up and down a great deal. What I think it manifests as and what it manifests as for me – at least – is being able to relax, to do something different, to socialise without pressure (meeting to actually DO something rather than just hang out) and to give my brain something to occupy it rather than rumination. Creative problem solving also has obvious applications in real life 🙂

      I am still my own worst enemy, but it’s not as bad as it has been. Thank you for your feedback. It’s greatly appreciated!

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