Henry is going to be a senior at DePaul University, studying computer science and is working towards a career in game programming. Although he was diagnosed at 9 years old, he didn’t start learning about ADHD until he was 19, and remains fascinated with the “why” behind his ADHD-ness. He has loved video games for as long as he can remember, and in recent years, he has learned a lot about himself as he strives to improve at competitive Super Smash Brothers™. His long term career goal is to create a game that makes players feel like they have ADHD, to increase awareness and understanding surrounding the disorder.
This is one of the first episodes in a while where Eric gets to have a guest in-studio!
[00:02:48] – Eric asks how Henry got into video games. It all started with a Game Boy Color™ and a McDonalds toy. Henry and his siblings also split a game console.Then Eric and Henry hash out their virtual tennis accomplishments, and why a lamp-timer is helpful.
[00:04:39] – Henry talks about a video game he wants to create that will make people feel like they have ADHD. His brother recommends a game to play, where the underlying theme of the game is a metaphor for overcoming the character’s anxiety, and why it resonated with Henry. He also talks about a game he’s played where the character in the game suffers from psychosis, which also gave him inspiration.
Fun fact: The game Henry mentions in the timestamp above was, indeed, made in collaboration with neuroscientists and mental health professionals. Henry says, “They didn’t want to do [the game] a disservice” and wanted to break a misrepresentation of mental health in games. Read more:
Hellblade studio launches a new venture to explore mental health through games
How Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice changed lives with its thoughtful portrayal of mental illness
[00:08:31] – Eric asks where Henry is at [with his game]. Henry has already made some prototype levels, designed after Dr. Russell Barkley’s theory of executive deficits, and how the levels represent these deficits.
[00:11:00] – Eric and Henry talk about enthusiasm vs. pursuing a passion professionally. Henry reflects on an episode of ADHD reWired he’s listened to. “We don’t have the luxury [with ADHD] of doing things we don’t like to do for a living” is a phrase that resonates with how he felt about school.
[00:12:44] – Henry really wanted to do game design as a career, but got a “C” in a game-design class, but didn’t quite know what it was he truly wanted to do. Later on, Henry discovers a love for programming, problem-solving, and playing with Lego and K’nex.
[00:15:31] – A moment of ADHD happens right before the break.
[00:22:26] – Henry started educating himself after getting stuck on breaking his skill-ceiling, and talks about the game he dove into to learn how to play competitively. Eric and Henry nerd out about their “mains” in Super Smash Brothers™. Henry explains how picking up a new character in the game was a perfect metaphor for living life with ADHD.
[00:27:13] – “Autopilot” isn’t effective. Henry talks about how his skill-ceiling led to frustration, and coming up with new strategies after losing another set. When he realizes his ADHD may have something to do with his struggles, he talks about diving into ADDitude magazine articles, watching HowToADHD videos on YouTube, and going down the ADHD Reddit rabbit-hole.
[00:30:48] – Henry learns about tournament-nerves, staying calm under pressure, and being able to control impulses, and how in Super Smash Brothers™ was helpful to apply the principles he learned to the real world.
[00:33:20] – Henry recommends taking a drink of water to knock your body out of fight-flight-freeze mode, and how it became his pause-mechanism.
[00:34:33] – Henry’s passion about games “speaks to if we’re going to problem-solve around any area of life, if we can figure out a way to put it through the lens of what we are passionate about, it gives our brain a fighting chance.” – Eric
[00:40:55] – Eric and Henry go through some coaching about a consistent system to keep track of his to-do’s. From a digital-assignment notebook and a whiteboard.
[00:44:46] – Eric and Henry talk about the assignment books they received in school, and dive into some of the tools Henry used to use, and how what has worked before never lasted for him, aside from Google Calendar. Then, Eric asks, “What if we can… shift to the mindset from ‘I want to find a consistent tool’ to being quick to pivot when we realize we are no longer paying attention to this tool?”
[00:47.01] – Eric talks about the different places his to-do’s live, and what Eric found helpful for him. Eric also recommends setting a reminder that asks, “Am I using this tool?” Then, Henry reflects on how this could work for him. Eric also recommends using an erasable pen when using a paper-calendar.
[00:49.07] – Henry shares his issue with communication, how he stores the information he’s been given, and how shorthand isn’t always the best way to store that information.
[00:52:14] – Eric goes over keeping track of to-do’s, then checking-in with the to-do’s. Mentioned here: Book – Change Your Questions, Change Your Life (affiliate link)
[00:54:52] – “The thing that I think is most important to be cognizant of is, ‘What are you doing now, what are you doing next?’’ Everything else is a distraction.” – Eric… because knowing what’s next makes transitions easier.
[00:56:39] – Henry shares his takeaways and the systems he wants to try, which include implementing the reminders about his systems in his calendar, and keeping an “encyclopedia” or an “owner’s manual” of strategies of what he has done in the past. Eric also encourages rotating through the tools we have.
Get to know Henry here from his Linktr.ee @HankDeTank05