Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

CAMH releases video game parody to teach youth about healthy video gaming

Over 100,000 Ontario students report symptoms of a video gaming problem

TORONTO,  October 22, 2014 – Fighting fire with fire, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) today launched Soul Crush Story, a video game designed to be an engaging way for educators to deliver health promotion messages related to video gaming to a generation of gamers.

Today’s video games are getting more difficult for people to stop playing. That’s intentional. Many of them incorporate ‘hooks’ that include advertising, inducements to spend money, violence and simulated gambling.  Using the new CAMH PGIO game Soul Crush Story, teachers, health educators, social workers and other helping professionals can build awareness of some of the ways in which games manipulate the user’s behaviour, while encouraging an open dialogue about healthy levels of video gaming.

Soulcrush game screenshot

Problematic video gaming is an emerging public health issue.  CAMH’s recent OSDUHS Mental Health and Well-Being Report revealed 10 per cent of Ontario middle and high school students (an estimated 105,600) report symptoms of a video gaming problem such as preoccupation, loss of control, withdrawal, disregard for consequences and disruption of family or school. Males are four times as likely as females to have a video gaming problem (17 per cent vs. 4 per cent).

“There are physical, behavioural and mental health signs that video gaming may be a problem,” says Lisa Pont, a PGIO therapist who specializes in training and counselling in the area of gaming, gambling and Internet overuse. “Excessive preoccupation, sleep difficulties, poor eating habits and decreased interest in school can signal there may be a problem.”

The PGIO surveyed 43 problem gambling treatment agencies across Ontario where excessive video gaming was also identified as a concern within their communities. Soul Crush Story was developed to fill a need for research-informed resources to help address these concerns.

Soulcrush game screenshot

The PGIO worked closely with Algoma Games for Health, an Ontario-based game development studio, to develop and design the video game. In Soul Crush Story when the player tries to make a move in the game, an exaggerated “consequence” of the move takes place. In the final chapter of the game, players are presented with typical life-choice scenarios that allow them to make healthy or harmful choices with regards to video gaming.  The dramatic name ‘Soul Crush Story’ was chosen to draw attention to potential negative impacts of video gaming.

Soul Crush Story is designed to be a fun way educators can encourage youth to make healthy choices around their video game play. “Setting priorities, turning off devices and taking part in sports or socializing with friends face-to-face are just a few ways to balance video gaming and overall health,” says Lisa Pont.

There is no cost to use the game and facilitator manual, and it can be accessed on from any computer with an internet connection. The project was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Video Game Link:


Media contact: Kate Richards, Media Relations, CAMH at (416) 595-6015;

The Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health brings treatment professionals and leading researchers together with experts in communicating and sharing knowledge. Our focus is on collaboratively developing, modeling and sharing evidence-based solutions to gambling related problems, within Ontario and around the world. 

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centres in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction.  CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
CAMH General Information Toronto: 416-595-6111 Toll Free: 1-800-463-6273
Connex Ontario Help Lines
Queen St.
1001 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1H4
Russell St.
33 Russell St.
Toronto, ON
M5S 2S1
College St.
250 College St.
Toronto, ON
M5T 1R8
Ten offices across Ontario