Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health struggles faced by teenagers today. Half of all mental health conditions start by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Many teens experience symptoms they can’t identify, much less express to others. Too often teens absentmindedly reach for their phones when they feel exhausted, unmotivated, restless, stressed, or bored. This can become an unhealthy habit that not only impacts the quality of their sleep but also the way they think and see themselves. Technology and social media seem only to worsen mental health issues. That’s why we created Odyssey. We created this game to help teenagers understand depression and anxiety, and it can also provide an educational experience to those who do not struggle with their mental health. Odyssey’s easy-to-understand format works to build empathy and understanding, crucial elements of connecting with others and expanding perspectives.

What it does

Odyssey allows players to immerse themselves in a world where anxiety and depression live only as monsters. In this bite-sized, adventure-style game, teens will learn about and develop effective cognitive strategies for anxiety and depression by battling them as monsters. Odyssey’s friendly, pixelated theme welcomes players to discover how to live a happier, more fulfilling life. The storylines for each monster take the player through multiple scenarios that lead up to a final battle scene where they can put into practice the skills they have learned.

How we built it

Our code is written in Java with JavaFX for the GUI. We also used IntelliJ as our IDE platform. Additionally, GitHub facilitated our collaboration throughout the entire development process.

Challenges we ran into

With so many amazing ideas to incorporate into our game, prioritizing the best functions within the time limit was one of our main challenges. Another challenge we encountered was communication. Our Discord group DM was sometimes confusing, but we resolved this issue by asking clarifying questions to make sure we understood each other.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

We are proud of creating a fun, functional game in just about 24 hours! We are so grateful to each other for our hard work and dedication to this project. Odyssey turned out better than we even could have imagined, and it is so rewarding to see the power of collaboration.

What we learned

In creating Odyssey, we learned how to effectively communicate and split up tasks. We also came to realize the value of teamwork through delegating certain tasks to certain team members; we trusted and relied on each other to get everything done. While our individual strengths informed our work, we also tried lots of new things in the supportive, collaborative environment we fostered. Venturing outside our comfort zones, we each stepped up in different ways to do research, develop the game, create graphics, write scripts, and build the pitch video.

What's next for Odyssey

In the future, we aim to extend the available storylines and resources available through Odyssey. We have also researched and are primed to add more monsters to battle such as panic disorder, ADHD, eating disorders, OCD, and more! In addition, another feature we intend to include to improve Odyssey is a quiz at the beginning of the game that will select the most appropriate monster for each individual player.

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