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New Game From 'Awkward Yeti' Creator Lets You Play Out an Anxiety Attack

If your first thought when you feel anxiety coming on is to run the other direction, an upcoming board game has a different idea in mind, one that might help you explain what an anxiety attack is like to others in your life who just don’t get it.

Cartoonist Nick Seluk is the writer and illustrator behind popular comics and characters like “The Awkward Yeti” and “Heart and Brain.” Following previous games like “OrganATTACK,” he developed a new game called “Anxiety Attack!” which is now fully funded on Kickstarter for release in January 2020.

“The game was inspired by the Heart and Brain comics Nick writes and anxiety is both a character and a topic that comes up in the comics quite a bit and in Nick’s own life,” a representative for Seluk told The Mighty via email. “He uses the comics and the games as a way to bring attention to the need to talk about anxiety and depression in ways that are approachable and true to life.”

The mental health-themed game challenges players to stay out of an anxiety spiral. The brain game board features green, orange, red and grey spaces to show your level of anxiety as you get closer to the spiral. You’re dealt a hand of cards that include trigger, defuse or instant cards to put your character in situations that will sound familiar if you struggle with anxiety.

Trigger cards advance you closer to the anxiety spiral with stressors such as “breakup” or “public restroom emergency.” Defuse cards represent self-care activities that may bring your anxiety level back down, like “listen to music” or “pet a dog.” Instant cards marked with a flame give you additional strategic options to keep your anxiety levels low and try to send your opponents over the edge first.

According to Seluk’s Kickstarter page, each “Anxiety Attack!” set comes with a game board, player pieces and a deck of more than 100 cards. Seluk will also create expansion card packs. Depending on how fans vote, the first expansion card pack could be themed around dreams and nightmares or a post-apocalyptic edition “that would send them running into a pit of despair or toward hopeful salvation.”

Seluk’s representative said so far the response to the game has been positive, and it was fully funded within an hour of launching the Kickstarter campaign. Some people did question whether putting a very real and difficult experience like anxiety into a fun game might be an issue, but for Seluk, it’s a great way to start an important conversation about mental health.

“We think no matter which way you approach it, it’s just good to get some dialogue going,” the representative said. “The game isn’t intended to poke fun at anxiety sufferers. In fact, it’s meant to be an outlet to encourage dialogue, infuse humor and to also present some strategies to help people cope with anxious situations.”

Anxiety Attack!” is expected to be available for purchase starting January 2020.

Header image via the Awkward Yeti’s Instagram