Mr. Haider Shishmahal's Profile
Haider Shishmahal completed his EdM in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University, which he attended on a Fulbright scholarship. He is a student of economics, education, psychology and most recently computing. Haider has designed curriculum and taught a diverse group of individuals – from young children to post graduate seeking adults. He is proud of his work in helping design a Child Protection Policy for a large private school network, as well as his past full time posts within the education sector.
Currently he is working full time as an Indie Games developer. Having sold the game House Party to the publisher Rematch Studios, he is developing the mental health sim Diagnosis, as well as other small titles, namely Spacelane Racing and Hockey Beats.
In addition to teaching part time, Haider likes to write and has been published many times in leading national news and print magazines. He is working hard to make his ‘first big break’.
Diagnosis: The Gamification of Mental Illness
Globally, mental disorders affect 1 in 4 people in the world according to the World Health Organization. In Pakistan, the situation is estimated to be even worse due to terrorism, poverty, stress and neglect. The estimated number of psychiatrists in Pakistan in 2015, to serve an estimated 182 million people, is less than 400. Although doctors disagree on the prevalence of mental illness citing the numbers in Pakistan to be much higher, even if the global incidence of 25% were to be used, we have an estimated 455,000 mentally ill people per 1 psychiatrist. To make matters worse the stigma attached to mental illness is such that many people who even have access to treatment are not willing to participate.
This is obviously very concerning, and as a graduate in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education, which I received on a Fulbright scholarship, I decided to do something about it. A few months ago, working with a small team, I started developing the video game called Diagnosis. You play a psychiatrist practicing at the hospital Lifeworks in the suburban town of Nightingale. The core play mechanic is diagnosing patients who suffer from various mental illnesses such as bi-polar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc. Diagnosis involves doing therapy talk sessions, other quests, and finally diagnosing patients and prescribing them medications.
In this presentation, I will talk about the making of Diagnosis (which is currently still under development), my personal motivation to make this game, including parts of my personal journey as a patient of schizoaffective disorder; how it affected my career and how I got my redemption as a Fulbright scholar and Harvard graduate; and finally how it led me to a place where I can make this video game which has a social impact as it humanizes patients with mental illness, and shows the great human ability to adapt and overcome obstacles.
Mr. Haider Shishmahal
Game Developer / Producer Cyberjack Studios
Pixelman Productions, Karachi