by Ayesha Shaikh
  • 1 minute read
  • August 31, 2021
This Saudi Teenager Is Developing A Video Game That Assesses Anxiety

At just age 18, Riyadh-based Rasha Alqahtani has created a tool that can be applied to video games to help diagnose teenagers with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), according to Saudi Gazette.

“It’s kind of life-changing,” she said in an interview with the Smithsonian Magazine. “You see, when you work this hard, people give you the appreciation you deserve.” The proposal, which is partly inspired by her personal experience with stressors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been accepted as a screener, which could tell participants that the tendencies they’ve reported fall into an unusual range of anxiety.

For the purpose of the prototype, she produced a video simulation of what the tool would look like within the popular video game, Minecraft, where players could choose how their character would react in potentially anxiety-inducing situations instead of deciding which character to save from the enemies.

Rasha began working on the project last year as a participant in Mawhiba, a national STEM program for gifted students in Saudi Arabia, and went on to win third place in the behavioral and social sciences category of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for her prototype.

The annual competition for ninth till 12th graders is administered by the Society for Science in Washington DC. Rasha hopes that her project can further the conversation around mental health and raise awareness about seeking help in her country and beyond.

Cover image via Saudi Gazette

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