Mortal Kombat 11 developer says they had 'extremely graphic dreams' that lead to therapy and a PTSD diagnosis

Not the most pleasant of projects to work on

The stories surrounding the development of Mortal Kombat 11 just keep getting worse and worse. After multiple reports of mismanagement from NetherRealm, another anonymous developer on the game has come forward to share their story. While they don't have any info on the aforementioned misconduct, they do share what it was like working on such a gruesome game day after day.

“I’d have these extremely graphic dreams, very violent. I kind of just stopped wanting to go to sleep, so I’d just keep myself awake for days at a time, to avoid sleeping. You’d walk around the office and one guy would be watching hangings on YouTube, another guy would be looking at pictures of murder victims, someone else would be watching a video of a cow being slaughtered. The scary part was always the point at which new people on the project got used to it. And I definitely hit that point.”

This employee in particular ended up seeing a therapist to help deal with these dreams. The therapist ended up diagnosing them with PTSD due to being surrounded and immersed in violent imagery for a huge portion of the day. Soon after the diagnosis, this employee learned that other staffers were going through similar experiences.

Publisher Warner Bros. Games and developer NetherRealm declined to comment on the matter.


Top Rated Comment
Wed May 08 19 05:44pm
Rating: 13

Imagine thinking you know more about how PTSD works than someone qualified to diagnose it.

Try applying that same logic to, "Come on, you chose to work for the military, why are you crying about PTSD?". True, you're playing a more active role in that case, but you're still seeing some messed up stuff that affects different people in different ways. I have no doubt that seeing real, extremely graphic content nonstop every day can have an effect on you.

But yeah, sure, let's just pretend that we haven't gotten better at understanding and diagnosing PTSD and assume that this generation just needs to grow a thicker skin.

I can understand concerns over labour abuse, but crying about PTSD because of making a Mortal Kombat game and it being "too gruesome"... I mean come on. You chose to work for NETHERREALM of all places. They're literally the pioneers of videogame gore.

What a pathetic generation.

I Think it's less the "making a gruesome game" part and more the "watching actual killings and animal cruelty for reference" part.

Wed May 08 19 05:39pm
Rating: 1

It has up the ante more than ever which is why it also doesn't put certain clothes to the female kast. Fatalities also have come a long way, and it's likely as the characters models are more detailed that other forms of reference are used. Combined with the crunch, it's not wonder one might be more than a bit disturbed.

Wed May 08 19 05:44pm
Rating: 13

Imagine thinking you know more about how PTSD works than someone qualified to diagnose it.

Try applying that same logic to, "Come on, you chose to work for the military, why are you crying about PTSD?". True, you're playing a more active role in that case, but you're still seeing some messed up stuff that affects different people in different ways. I have no doubt that seeing real, extremely graphic content nonstop every day can have an effect on you.

But yeah, sure, let's just pretend that we haven't gotten better at understanding and diagnosing PTSD and assume that this generation just needs to grow a thicker skin.

Thu May 09 19 01:53am
(Updated 1 time)

Did you seriously just compare THE MILITARY with developing a Mortal Kombat game?

I compared situations which can result in PTSD. Obviously they're very different, and I'm not trying to undermine military roles in any way. The point is that PTSD is complex and can arise from a variety of situations and I don't think you nor I are qualified to judge which ones are valid. That's why we have people who go to school for years to study this stuff.

Imagine waking up, and everyone around who should have cojones, suddenly, do not. Not only that, but because of said predicament perspectives get blurred due to lack of balance. So now, not only have people shown complete lack of ability to think outside of the box but also have lost their freaking common sense.

In other words, it has nothing to do with whether others or myself think this person actually has ptsd or not, or if we have sympathy or not. We are simply pointing to another relevant fact, maybe even more so; that he voluntarily chose to work for the Mortal Combat company-aka King of Gore.

Instead of trying to understand this I see 13+ people having a pitty party because they are incapable of not being too sensitive. And as someone else mentioned, I sure hope it's children. Then, I, could understand.

The article very clearly points out that this was a subconscious, long-term thing that was affecting his dreams and causing lack of sleep, not an immediate response to seeing gruesome content. He wasn't just like, "I don't like seeing this content, now I have PTSD, pity me".

If I worked somewhere and didn't like the content I was seeing I'd probably asked to be moved, but even if you're fine with seeing that stuff in the short-term, how it affects you in the long run varies from person to person. Brains are complicated, dude.

We makin' fun of mental disorders now.

Thought we were above this.

Wed May 08 19 07:08pm
Rating: 2 (Updated 1 time)

This is actually the most up-voted comment in this thread. What a fucking disgrace, didn't even read the damn snippet. I at least hope it is mostly children up-voting this.

Oh you are such a cute class act. I sure hope nobody makes fun of you if you ever end up having mental disorders.

I won't mind, I'll be too crazy to notice.

You seem irrationally triggered.....how pathetic.

I'm not surprised, it's a graphically gruesome game. The graphics have come a long way since the original and ports on the likes of the SNES/Mega Drive, to being almost lifelike. It's not really a series I'd really like to play these days, never mind develop, as I find it disturbing.

I'd imagine even if the person who started on the game originally thought they'd be fine, things creep in and affect someone more so than they anticipated. The designers definitely pay attention to detail, and I can only image what kind of lengths they have to go to to get that kind of detail. I'm glad I'm not the one working on it.

Wed May 08 19 04:42pm
Rating: 1

All for a trash game that will die in a few months the way its predecessor did.

This tripe shouldn't have made it past the arcades. Tbh if it weren't for that supreme court hullaballoo it would have died with them.

And nothing of value would have been lost.

This game is selling incredibly well, currently at a better pace than X, which is the series’ best selling game.

I mean competitively.

MKX started strong, peaked, and tanked.

The less I have to see or hear of this at tournaments, the better.

I suppose, I may be wrong but I feel Mortal Kombat audience is more casual focus than tournament base (and there's nothing bad about that). Not all games need to be competitive to be relevant, I'll argue even Smash's continually selling in each iteration is because of factors other than competitive. (Smash 4 mainly sold less because of it being on the Wii U, hence why 3DS sold more).

This game received a 9.0 "Amazing" from IGN. It is not a trash game by any means.

IGN gave God Hand a 3 and Imagine Party Babyz a 6.5.

Also, too much water.

The honeymoon period is ending pretty fast with the stupid microtransactions and competitive players are finding flaw after flaw, like how stupid fatal blows are and how it causes dragged out turtling that's both boring to watch and play.

Casuals will buy and play whatever but the less time I see it taking spots on tourney main stages, the better.

The IGN comparison is silly since those reviews were all done by different people, as per the norm for review networks like them. and they weren't wrong about ORAS, in fact they were too positive towards it IMO

It's one thing to not like the game and not wanna buy it (I'm not really into the excess gore on display here, but am curious to try the old 2D games if they rerelease them since they're a bit tamer), but it's kinda silly to discount the fact that the game is selling and performing moderately well, competitive space or not.

Working for Netherrealm you should be prepared for gore. MAybe they shouldn't have toned down the sexuality in the game so the devs would have some pretty things to look at. I still find the "Gore GOOD, boobies BAD" mentality baffeling (and silly), but OK.

But in the making a game like this you probably have to know the human anatomy pretty darn well, and that also includes the guts. A lot of that even. Seeing pictures of murder victims? What about watching videos of people actually dying (I have seen people actually die in front of me)?

Point is: You KNOW what the games are about before you go work there, so you should be prepared. Games like MK are not for everyone, and I think most know it.

Now those 100 hours/week thing peobably isn't any help for the mental health either.

To the people (somehow there's more than one) saying "you knew what you were getting into, it's Mortal Kombat": you can think you'll be prepared for something and quickly find out you're not at all. This to say nothing of the fact that this person might not have been in any financially-stable enough situation to just walk away.

The lack of sympathy for other people, far too much.

Cry me a bloody ocean.

I love how people's mental health issues are a joke to you.

Netherrealm: We're gonna have you animate a character kicking a guy in the dick so hard his head explodes

Also Netherrealm: Our committment to realism is such that you will have to watch hours and hours of real-life footage of Al Qaeda sawing people's heads off

You forgot the part where they get paid 80 to 100k a year for it, then cry about it anonymously online.

Netherrealm: We pay our full-time employees 80 to 100K a year so we're entitled to treat them like dirt

Also Netherrealm: Please ignore how most of these stories are coming from our legions of temps who made closer to 1/5th that

What's interesting about this exercise is imagining the discussions when it comes of making it palatable for the audience.

"Do we also put all the viscera, screeching and convulsions?"
"No, we want it realistic but not "that realistic"," make it intense, but not, "that messy.""

It's such a bizarre road for them to go down. Part of the reason why that Jack Thompson lost his crusade in the 90s was it was pretty obvious to everyone who wasn't clownshoes that the violence in games like MK didn't at all resemble real world violence.

Absolutely no one was thinking "This animation is no good. They should use documentary footage of real people burning alive as a base."

That's the irony of game studios to try so desperately to become like movie studios. Not only to be seen more "serious" but also to gain more audience and therefore more money. Although in this case there really are a tone of contradictions since how much can you dumb down MK, while also look to be realistic, with the exploitative violence yet prude enough to have the ladies covered in all variations (ironically when they finally made them have better faces). But oh well, can't say the results are bad, just the mediums to get to those results aren't ideal.

That fit with things I heard from people less lucky than me... Sad

Some of the comments are disgusting. I don't get what's confusing: you think all these employees just guessed they'd have to watch hours of real snuff films, mutilations, and tortured animals when they signed up to make a video game? It's not the graphic design that got to them, it's the reference footage of real people and animals. All to make a disgusting game.

And the guy complains about insomnia and bad dreams so a guy here whips out the word "crazy." Screw a couple of you guys. Most are decent, but I bet all the trashtalkers never went through jack in their lives. Just want to talk trash.

And you'd lose that bet. The reason why people are outraged is because some of us have lived through actual trauma, not just shown on a screen. I have ptsd, but you've never heard me mention it, until now and I've been coming here since 2005.

What the blue eff does that have to do with the price of coal? You're mad because you're so much tougher, and these devs are weak because they answered an interviewer's questions? Why so hostile?

Sat May 11 19 10:06am
(Updated 1 time)

Sorry for coming across hostile, wasn't my intention. I guess I'm just addressing that people here seem to be so accepting/understanding towards the poor developer but simultaneously refuse to comprehend someone else's comment about them choosing to work there.

It's not difficult to assess that he is someone that is ok with gore hence why he chose said place. And if such images were bothersome, he'd stop looking at them. I guess it's such a fine line that now I'm wondering if it's only a matter of time before this generation starts crying ptsd because of their youtube video consumption. Again, sorry for the hostility, but where does this end?


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