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Our examiner, Angela Hickman Newnham, first checked Neurodeck 20 months ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 7 months ago.
You start by picking one of the two character options, Lei and Jupiter. Each has their own unique abilities, cards, and stories to discover and approach the journey in very different ways. You then take on a series of Phobia monsters by playing cards that represent affirming life activities (helping kids with their homework, taking a hot bath, eating pizza, and so on) to damage the Phobia and protect your most precious resource, your Sanity, from the effects of the Phobias attacks.
Each Phobia has a unique powers related to its real-life counterpart, attacking your Stamina or Sanity directly. When you have no Stamina you can’t play cards and if you run out of Sanity, you lose the game. However, with each loss, you unlock more cards and options for future attempts.
As you progress you choose which phobia to face, which cards to add to your deck, and which special rooms you will visit to gain advantages. These choices invite you to role-play and develop your character, or to explore different aspects of your own personality and life. For example, in the Survey room you are offered a series of personality questions and then based on the answers are given a trait such as introverted or extroverted. Each of these traits has a special power you can equip for the rest of the game, and you can decide how your character feels about these things or you can choose answers that best match your own life.
Neurodeck leans into this metaphorical aspect of play and encourages you to choose Phobias that are relevant to you personally. For those that want to engage in this way it can offer an opportunity to engage with fears in a safe video game environment. Each phobia has effective strategies to discover as you work on building personal perseverance and resilience.
The art depicts shadow outlines of the phobia characterized as a monster, which may present a visual trigger, but in general the phobias are developed in a way where they represent the core idea in a gameful way. For example Haptophobia, the fear of touch, is represented by a creature that has many hands and one of its main attacks is to “touch” your cards and lock them in place, making it where you can’t play the touched cards on the next turn.
12+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Although the mechanics of play would be suitable for a younger player, making the connection between the characters, their fears and the monsters is an important aspect of the game. Older children will have the ability to make these connections and understand the progress and reasoning between the decisions they are encouraged to make.
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