Prey, the 2017 science-fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Arkane Studios, features a neurodivergent protagonist, Morgan Yu. The game explores several mental health themes, such as anxiety, trauma, and memory loss, and is applauded for breaking stereotypes and showcasing neurodivergent individuals’ unique strengths and abilities. Prey portrays Morgan as possibly autistic and deals with mental health themes in a sensitive and honest manner, gaining critical acclaim and serving as a model for future media depictions of individuals with mental health conditions. Its portrayal contributes to efforts to increase empathy and understanding towards those living with these conditions.
Prey: Neurodivergent Protagonist and Mental Health Themes
Prey, the 2017 science-fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks, features an unexpected and unusual protagonist: Morgan Yu, who is neurodivergent. The game deals with several mental health themes, including anxiety, trauma, and memory loss. Prey received critical acclaim for its portrayal of mental illness and neurodivergence, as it highlights the struggles and strength of individuals who have experienced these conditions.
Morgan Yu, the protagonist of Prey, is revealed to be neurodivergent through the game’s narrative and gameplay. The game’s initial cutscene portrays Morgan having vivid nightmares and being tested for memory retention. Throughout the gameplay, players encounter neuromods, which are used to augment Morgan’s abilities. These same neuromods, however, can cause memory loss and impact Morgan’s perception of reality.
Morgan Yu’s condition was not explicitly stated in the game, but it is widely speculated that they are autistic, based on their behaviors, such as the obsessiveness about routines and focus on science and logic. Prey’s portrayal of autism broke away from typical stereotypes, showcasing Morgan’s unique strengths and abilities, such as their intelligence and adaptability.
Mental Health Themes
Alongside its portrayal of a neurodivergent protagonist, Prey also explores other mental health themes, particularly anxiety, trauma, and memory loss. Morgan experiences anxiety triggered by their traumatic experiences, including the death of their parents and an alien invasion. Players witness Morgan’s PTSD-like symptoms as they experience flashbacks, nightmares, and dissociation.
The game’s setting, in the form of a space station by the name of Talos I, further amplifies the sense of isolation that can trigger anxiety. The station’s claustrophobic corridors, dark corners, and malfunctioning equipment, all add to the game’s atmosphere of fear and dread.
Prey also delves into the concept of memory loss and its impacts on mental health. The neuromods used to augment Morgan’s abilities come with a price, with players discovering that their use can lead to memory loss and impacted cognition. Throughout the game, players encounter several AI-controlled characters, some of whom have lost significant portions of their memory, which contributes to their psychological distress.
Q: Why is Prey’s portrayal of a neurodivergent protagonist significant?
A: Prey’s portrayal breaks away from the usual stereotypes and stigma surrounding neurodivergent individuals in media, portraying them as capable and independent individuals with unique strengths and abilities.
Q: How does Prey deal with mental health themes?
A: Prey explores several mental health themes such as anxiety, trauma, and memory loss. The game’s narrative and gameplay showcase the psychological impacts of these conditions and how they affect Morgan Yu.
Q: Is Prey’s portrayal of mental illness and neurodivergence accurate?
A: While no portrayal can be 100% accurate, Prey’s portrayal was received positively by mental health advocates and neurodivergent individuals for its empathy, honesty, and realistic portrayal of the impact of these conditions on individuals.
In conclusion, Prey’s portrayal of a neurodivergent protagonist and exploration of mental health themes contributes to ongoing efforts to increase empathy and understanding towards individuals affected by these conditions. Its honest and sensitive approach towards these themes has gained critical acclaim and serves as a model for future media depictions of neurodivergent individuals and mental health.