You Are the One Foretold; Finding Yourself Through the Journey

  • Megan ConnellEmail author
  • Kelli Dunlap
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cyberpsychology book series (PASCY)


Through play we explore and learn about the world. The Monolith, or better known as the Hero’s Journey, is a form of story in which the hero ventures out into the world to adventure, and they grow, change and learn as a result of their journey. In this chapter, we explore why digital games are such a powerful medium for expressing The Hero’s Journey and explore the transformative potential of RPGs as a vehicle for personal growth and wellness.


Roleplaying games RPG The Hero’s Journey Avatarism Growth mindset 


  1. Bentham, J. (1970). An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. In J. H. Burns & H. L. A. Hart (Eds.), Collected works of Jeremy Bentham. London: Athlone.Google Scholar
  2. Bethesda Game Studios. (2011). The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [Video game]. Bethesda Softworks.Google Scholar
  3. Bioware. (2014). Dragon Age: Inquisition [Video game]. Electronic Arts.Google Scholar
  4. Blasko, D. G., Lum, H. C., White, M. M., & Drabnik, H. B. (2014). Individual differences in the enjoyment and effectiveness of serious games. In T. Connolly, T. Hainey, E. Boyle, G. Baxter, & P. Moreno-Ger (Eds.), Psychology, pedagogy, and assessment in serious games (pp. 153–174). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blizzard. (2004). World of Warcraft [Video game]. Blizzard Entertainment.Google Scholar
  6. Blizzard North. (2000). Diablo II [Video game]. Blizzard Entertainment.Google Scholar
  7. Bowman, S. L. (2010). Role-playing as an alteration of identity. In The functions of role-playing games: How participants create community, solve problems, and explore identity. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, J. (2008). The Monomyth. In The hero with a thousand faces: The collected works of Joseph Campbell (3rd ed., 1–32). Novato, CA: New World Library.Google Scholar
  9. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975). Beyond boredom and anxiety. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Christy, K., & Fox, J. (2016). Transportability and presence as predictors of avatar identification within narrative video games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(4), 283–287. Scholar
  11. Cryptic Studios. (2016). Neverwinter [Video game]. Perfect World Entertainment.Google Scholar
  12. Darvasi, P., Farber, M., & Rivers, S. (2019). Museum of me: Exploring identity with what remains of Edith Finch. Presented at Games for Change. New York City.Google Scholar
  13. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology, 49(1), 14–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeSteno, D., Gross, J. J., & Kubzansky, L. (2013). Affective science and health: The importance of emotion and emotion regulation. Health Psychology, 34(5), 474–486. Scholar
  15. Deterding, S. (2018). Gamification in management: Between choice architecture and humanistic design. Journal of Management Inquiry, 28(2), 131–136. Scholar
  16. Ducheneaut, N., Wen, M. H., Yee, N., & Wadley, G. (2009, April). Body and mind: A study of avatar personalization in three virtual worlds. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1151–1160). ACM.Google Scholar
  17. Dunlap, K. (2019). Beyond empathy 101: Digging deep into empathy, ethics, and game design. Presented at the Games 4 Change Festival. New York, NY.Google Scholar
  18. Dweck, C. S. (2007). The perils and promises of praise. Educational Leadership, 65(2), 34–39.Google Scholar
  19. Elliot, I., & Coker, S. (2011). Independent self-construal, self-reflection, and self-rumination: A path model for predicting happiness. Australian Journal of Psychology, 60(3), 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frasca, G. (2003). Rethinking agency and immersion: Videogames as a means of consciousness raising. Retrieved from
  21. FromSoftware. (2011). Dark souls [Video game]. Namco Bandai Games.Google Scholar
  22. FromSoftware. (2019). Sekiro [Video game]. Activision.Google Scholar
  23. Gabriel, S., & Young, A. (2011). Becoming a Vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science, 22(8), 990–994. Scholar
  24. Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Giant Sparrow. (2017). What Remains of Edith Finch [Video game]. Santa Monica, CA: Anna Purna Interactive.Google Scholar
  26. Grace, L., Dunlap, K., Datu, C., & Rice, J. (2016). Community engagement at the intersection of games and news. Presented at the Community Management Summit, Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, CA.
  27. Haybron, D. M. (2008). Happiness, the self and human flourishing. Utilitas, 20(1), 21–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hodent, C. (2017). The gamer’s brain: How neuroscience and UX can impact video game design. Boca Raton: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jagoda, P., Gilliam, M., McDonald, P., & Russell, C. (2015). Worlding through play: Alternate reality games, large-scale learning, and the source. American Journal of Play, 8(1), 74–100. Retrieved from;
  30. Juul, J. (2013). The art of failure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Klimmt, C., Hefner, H., & Vorderer, P. (2009). The video game experience as “true” identification: A theory of enjoyable alterations of players’ self-perception. Communication Theory, 19, 351–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kowert, R., Griffiths, M., & Oldmeadow, J. A. (2012). Geek or Chic? Emerging stereotypes of online gamers. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 32(6), 471–479. Scholar
  33. Lawson, G. (2005). The hero’s journey as a developmental metaphor for counseling. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development, 44, 134–145.
  34. Lazzaro, N. (2004). Why we play games: Four keys to more emotion without story. XEO Design. Retrieved from
  35. McGonigal, J. (2015). SuperBetter. New York, NY: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  36. McGonigal, J. [TED]. (2010). Gaming can make a better world | Jane McGonigal. [Video File]. Retrieved from
  37. Neff, K. D., Rude, S. S., & Kirkpatrick, K. L. (2007). An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(4), 908–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nintendo. (1992). Mario kart [Video game]. Nintendo.Google Scholar
  39. Nintendo. (2017). Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild [Video game]. Nintendo.Google Scholar
  40. Parker, R. J., & Horton, H. S. (1994). A typology of ritual: Paradigms for healing and empowerment. Counseling and Values, 40, 82–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pringle, H. (2015). Conjuring the ideal self: An investigation of self-presentation in video game avatars. Press Start, 2(1), 1–20. Retrieved from
  42. Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Murayama, K., Lynch, M. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). The ideal self at play: The appeal of video games that let you be all you can be. Psychological Science, 23(1), 69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Richards, K., Campenni, C., & Muse-Burke, J. (2010). Self-care and well-being in mental health professionals: The mediating effects of self-awareness and mindfulness. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 32(3), 247–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rosenberg, L. R. (2009). Transforming leadership: Reflective practice and the enhancement of happiness. Reflective Practice, 11(1), 9–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ryan, R. M., Rigby, C. S., & Przybylski, A. (2006). The motivational pull of video games: A self-determination theory approach. Motivation and Emotion, 30(4), 344–360. Scholar
  46. Sherry, J. (2004). Flow and media enjoyment. Communication Theory, 14, 328–347. Scholar
  47. Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). Rhetorics of self. In The Ambiguity of Play. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Turkay, S., & Kinzer, C. K. (2014). The effects of avatar-based customization on player identification. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 6(1), 1–26., Scholar
  49. Waggoner, Z. (2009). My avatar, myself; Identity in video role-playing games. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.Google Scholar
  50. Wilson, T. (2011). Redirect: The surprising new science of psychological change little. New York, NY: Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  51. Wrisinger, C. (2014). “Link”ing monomyth and video games: How the Legend of Zelda connects myth to modern media (Unpublished thesis). University of Central Missouri.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southeast PsychCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.American UniversityRockvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations