Schizophrenia is described to be a mental illness that affects almost every aspect of a person’s life. As a neurodevelopment disorder, it blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, causing people living with it to experience crippling confusion, stress and, most of all, vulnerability. Despite what we do know, schizophrenia is not actually a proven illness and is often misunderstood amongst modern society, perpetuating its misrepresentation in the media. This is something that Goliath wants to change.
Goliath is a client at Home Instead and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has since been involved in the creation of, ‘Goliath: Playing with Reality’, a must-watch Virtual Reality experience about life with schizophrenia and how he found power in gaming to reach serenity. It’s important to understand that this isn’t just a game, but a portrayal that questions the very ways in which we view mental health.
“It did say a lot about me, my past and my personality, I was almost driven to tears. Incredible”
“A new form of art”
- Reviews of ‘Goliath: Playing with Reality’
First released in 2021, the 25-minute experience guides its viewers through the turmoil of Goliath’s struggle with reality, allowing you to step out of the natural world and solely concentrate on the game.
“Everything you see is just part of the game, everything you feel is real”,
Narrated by himself as well as Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton, known for her roles in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ (2011) and ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016), it has already received several accolades, recently winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best VR Immersive Work at the 78th Venice International Film Festival.
The story starts by taking us back to Goliath’s childhood, where we get both a visual and auditory sense of his personality, upbringing, and teenage years. A self-professed ‘problem child’, Goliath enables us to get to know him in a way that he’s never let anyone before, taking us through his time spent caring for his mum whilst simultaneously turning to excessive drinking, partying and fighting, citing how he had, “more enemies than friends”. However, it is also here that his journey with online gaming begins, “it was a way of getting away from things, having that escape”.
Upon abruptly leaving home, Goliath progresses into ‘self-destruct mode’. The vibrant animations of the VR experience create an environment that allows viewers to not simply witness, but empathise with the effects of schizophrenia that eventually climaxes into Goliath’s psychotic episode.
“I went mad. No one could hear me going mad”
Following this breakdown, he spends his time isolated in a psychiatric institute. His freedom to control his own life is not only robbed mentally, but physically, too. Here, he is prescribed antipsychotic medication, the strongest oral and psychotic medicine in the world, to enable him to gradually take back control. Even whilst in this institute he is able to continue is online escapism; playing online football with the nurse for hours on end, allowing him to separate himself from his schizophrenia and simply be. After six to seven years, Goliath is re-integrated into the outside society that once shut him out.
“If I didn’t have online gaming, I don’t know where I’d be”
Goliath now lives an independent life in the comfort of his own home, something that the team at Home Instead are proud to support him with. He continues to game, enabling him to reinvent his reality and take back control. The gaming industry has allowed him to connect in a way he was never able to before; by its very purpose gaming allows you to do something that’s impossible in ‘real’ life. It takes away the severity of the everyday, mundane, ‘right’ way of life that simply just isn’t a mould that everyone fits. Gaming is this mould for Goliath. And in this world, he wins.
A bit about Home Instead:
Home Instead Sheffield and Barnsley has been providing relationship-led home care for adults in the community for the past 16 years. First set up by Bryn and Jill Evans, they pride themselves on allowing people to continue to live in their own homes, independently and safely, understanding that there truly is no place like home.
Their services range from Dementia, Palliative and Live-in Care to Brain, Spinal Injury and Disability Care for all adults aged 18+.
Barnsley: 01226 391010
Sheffield North: 0114 246 966
Sheffield South: 0114 250 7709