Mastery is an immersive multi-PLATFORM game with the purpose of teaching coping skills to YOUNG PEOPLE WHO have EXPERIENCED TRAUMA to help them overcome the impact of traumatic stress.

BACKGROUND on childhood trauma

  • Traumatic experiences in childhood and adolescents can have lifelong impact, especially when untreated.

  • In a community sample of older adolescents, one in seven of those who had experienced a serious trauma developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • PTSD is a massive variation of the normal fight-or-flight response: sufferers may experience flashbacks, waking nightmares and the re-living of traumatic events.

  • Research has shown that video games can be an effective prevention for the development of PTSD.


Mastery draws on the neuroscience of trauma and Cue-Centered Therapy, an evidence-based trauma treatment developed at Stanford's Early Life Stress Lab. 

Mastery is an exciting adventure game in which players are guided through a series of challenges representing neurological events that occur under stress. It teaches players to identify their trauma triggers, gain awareness of their feelings, and replace trauma-based responses with healthy ones.  The game takes place in the player's own brain, though this is not revealed until late in the game. 

An initial prototype was demonstrated at Stanford's Learning, Design, and Technology 2015 Expo.  Students working on this project will work to build and then refine the next prototype as well as participating in user experience research, if they wish.  Students may also be involved in conducting a research study looking at whether there are any significant changes in neurological structure or function (and, if possible, epigenetic markers) after playing the game. 


We are looking for students with a background or interest in learning the following:

  • Game development (experience with Unity is a plus)

  • Server-side architecture and back-end data system development

  • Web development

  • Mobile game/app development