The Arkham Sessions Podcast, Episode #114: “The Arkham Video Games, Part 1”

In this episode, we review the stories told in the Arkham video game series, starting with Arkham Origins and Arkham Asylum. The series further develops the mythos of Gotham City’s “institution for the criminally insane,” and is fundamentally grounded in themes of chaos, instability and institutional corruption. With Batman as your third person over-the-shoulder protagonist, gameplay involves interaction with asylum guards, orderlies, and psychiatrists throughout a multi-faceted campus of medical buildings and specialty units such as intensive treatment centers, operating rooms and of course a vast subterranean system in which Killer Croc can jump-scare the hell out of you. In addition to tracking and getting caught up in the Joker’s constant mayhem, you encounter a consistent demeaning and discriminatory attitude held by professionals in how they handle and treat  “violent, incurable psychotics.” The games often revert to an “us vs. them” dynamic – sane vs. insane, free vs. incarcerated, good vs. evil, with Batman frequently panicking that he’s on the wrong side of these dualities.

In this two-part podcast episode, we explore some of the game’s clinical treatments and therapeutic approaches, break down the palpable, intense relationship between Batman and the Joker, and offer our own reactions to the portrayals of mental health in this video game series. Though highly entertaining, beautifully designed and rich with psychological representations, the Arkham game series remains a problematic cornerstone in our pop culture because of its disservice to the mental health field. 

The Arkham Sessions is a podcast dedicated to the psychology of the show, Batman: The Animated Series. Have psychology related questions about Batman? Write to us via twitter @ArkhamSessions or on Facebook.

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