Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Lee Sheldon, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Dean O'Donnell, Reader

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Jennifer deWinter, Reader




The Black Dog is a Turn-Based Role-Playing Game (TBRPG) that uses story and a combat system to raise the players awareness about Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, MDD affects 6.7% of Americans as of 2016 [1]. The highest concentration of depressed Americans is between the age of 18-25. With depression being such a serious problem, creating engaging and effective methods to raise awareness of depression and its effects should be explored. Xia Wang’s looks at how educating about depression can be an effective tool to help recover from depression because of the impact of stigma on those suffering with depression [2]. To help inform students about MDD and other closely related forms of depression, Junfeng Guo, Sean Welch, Kyle Baker and Aaron Segal designed and created The Black Dog. The goal of The Black Dog is to raise awareness and create empathy in college students for the struggles depression causes and suggest some transferable strategies such as healthy eating and exercise, to assist with depression. The game attempts to provide information about depression through classroom dialog and character interaction, which the player will need to apply in combat. To assess the game's goals of raising awareness, thirty-five college students partook in a study. Overall, while most participants did learn from the game, the amount of learning and player engagement can be improved. The analysis of this data provides valuable information for future iterations of this game.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Interactive Media and Game Development

Project Type


Date Accepted





Depression, Education