SAGA: Helping Veterans with PTSD


Sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often go years avoiding treatment due to financial, distance, or social stigma reasons.   Technology can help educate Veterans not only on PTSD, but also what to expect in treatment to make their visits more successful.  Also PTSD causes sufferers tend to avoid thinking about their trauma, avoiding the exercises assigned by therapists.

SIFT Approach

SIFT designed the SAGA online game  to help people suffering from PTSD get started on the road to evidence-based treatment and provides an interactive workbook for those enrolled in evidence-based therapy. SAGA was developed in partnership with clinical researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs. SAGA provides PTSD education and low intensity worked examples of exposure therapy so PTSD suffers know what to expect when they attend treatment. SAGA uses the metaphor of editing a trauma story from different view points to control intensity and show how working with intense memories can help.  

SAGA players complete a series of missions that teach people how to tell their story with simple drawings everyone can do, like stick figures.  SAGA players learn how to capture their memories without tripping over words. SAGA game play keeps people working through their memories with daily missions that balance fun, and low intensity exposure exercises. SAGA warns players that the missions get tougher, and that engaging a mental health professional as a coach will help them complete tough exercises.


  • Provides PTSD Education through engaging comics 
  • Approachable treatment format that does not require artistic ability
  • Based on exposure therapy, one of the most effective therapies for PTSD
  • Provides treatment engagement for PTSD sufferers avoiding a evidence-based therapy
  • Provides an interactive workbook for those in exposure2 therapy treatment

More Information

The SIFT team created the Saga of the Blue Badger comic as an introduction to the SAGA game and the Inside the Dragon comic to describe what having PTSD feels like, and what it takes to beat it.  SIFT has made all the SAGA comics available with a creative commons license, covering topics from recognizing PTSD to military sexual trauma.   

The Minneapolis affiliate of ABC aired an interview with SIFT staff, which describes how SAGA technology helps veterans suffering from PTSD work through their trauma story by writing and creating personal graphic novels or comics.


Dan Thomsen
saga at sift dot net