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Creating Games With Inclusivity in Mind

An astronaut is severely immobilized. Picture this. She keeps on floating about unable to keep her feet on the ground unless she wears special boots.

She can’t feed herself unless she learns to coordinate her hand-to-mouth movements. On top of that, she requires specially prepared food. Let’s not even go to how difficult going to the washroom must be.

While on the moon she can’t sustain her body’s need for oxygen, she requires “life support” systems for her very survival. Yet she is not labelled deficient in any way. Society doesn’t see her significant physical incapacities while in space as problems that need to be fixed. Assumptions of helplessness or incompetence never arise.

In fact, it’s the opposite. She undergoes rigorous training and she is tasked with the responsibility of carrying out complex and demanding outer space tasks. She is considered a heroine.

It is the environment she is in that is deemed to be the problem and not her immobilized state. Her environment is considered to be hostile and alien thus not accommodating to her physiological requirements. So lots of money goes into preparing assistive devices that enable the accommodation of her physical and physiological needs. She can stay alive and breathe in that unfriendly world. In many ways, the world we live in is a lot like the unfriendly world on the moon. There are a lot of us earth-bound humans whose physical requirements require assistive measures to function in this “hostile” environment.

Let me introduce you to a beautiful young boy called Alistair.

Alistair is surrounded by love and Angela his caregiver is always eager to make things easier for him. Alistair’s story is special. He was born without his sense of hearing. Doctors diagnosed him as deaf but there was something else. He was different from the other hearing-impaired children; hyperactive and unable to grasp sign language. He was a deaf boy with autism.

Every time they went out, he would through a tantrum and make a scene. Naturally, Angela felt like she had failed him. She felt like she was the only one who got a chance to truly see the real Alistair and it was unfortunate that other people could not do the same. One day, his teacher planned a trip to the mall and Angela panicked, but the teacher was sure her method would work. She realized that to penetrate Alistair’s “defences”, she needed to give him information on what was going to happen to him. So for the next 3 days before the trip, they showed him images of the things he would experience on that day.

They showed him an image of getting into the car, driving to the mall, arriving at the mall, browsing the stores, getting back to the car, driving back to school and then going back home. Alistair was unusually calm on the day they went to the mall. Unlike other times, he did not go running around touching everything. He knew what was going on. He had information and that gave him peace. There and then, Angela realized that this was the solution they had been looking for all this while.

Alistair’s family had a boat and despite the amazing experience that going on a boat is, it was always a nightmare. After the trip to the mall, Angela realized that it wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy the boat. He didn’t hate the boat either. He just didn’t like not knowing where he was going, when they would leave and if they’d return home after the trip.

Alistair’s father decided to apply the same method his teacher used for the boat trip. He showed him a calendar of the day they were leaving, how long they were staying in the boat and when they would return. On top of that, he showed him pictures and drawings of the adventures they would enjoy together. When the day came Alistair enjoyed sailing in the boat.

The information he received before the trip gave him peace and allowed him to be in the moment. To tackle Alistair’s challenge with sign language, his sign language interpreter found out that even though he didn’t make eye contact, he had peripheral sight and he could see the gesture through the corner of his eyes. Alistair also had a language delay. For instance, a woman once pointed out that there was a train passing nearby, and 10 minutes later he replied in sign language: “I saw a train.”

People accomplish more when nobody is telling them what they can’t do. Alistair was able to do more because he was surrounded by people who loved and believed in him.

Catalina De La Rocha is a Mexican woman who came up with an educational game that teaches hearing families and friends, Mexican sign language. Through Alistair’s story, Catalina came to the conclusion that not every person diagnosed with the same diagnosis needs the same treatment. So every design solution has to be flexible to fulfil the custom user’s needs and what better way to achieve this than through inclusive games?

Catalina used visual elements that were understandable to both hearing and non-hearing players, therefore, bridging the gap between sign language and written language. The game also incorporates signwriting and augmented reality, thus creating a 3-dimensional experience of sign language.

Imagine a world in which your major form of understanding and interpretation of what is being communicated to you is through your eyes. Then imagine yourself blindfolded, being moved around without seeing where you are going and what you are going to do. This is just a glimpse of what Alistair must have felt before his teacher found a solution.

Inclusivity in game development goes a long way in positively impacting people’s lives. To date, most researchers on educational computer games forget to include people with special needs thus leaving them excluded. Let me take you back to the astronaut and remind you about the impact of our surroundings. Outer space is a hostile environment so instead of labelling her deficient, measures are put in place to ensure that her special needs are catered to.

Now let’s come back to our planet Earth. We are all born with unique attributes some of which are so different that the current environment on Earth is “hostile” because it is not prepared to cater to these needs yet. Alistair’s physical abilities could not be changed, but the physical environment in which he lived could be made more accommodating and inclusive of his needs.

Thank’s to his teacher’s intervention it was and thanks to you as an inclusive game developer another beautiful soul’s life will get to be transformed.

 


Wendi Ndaki is passionate about the fusion of art and technology and that is why the video games industry feels like home to her.

She is a Writer, a Visual Artist and a YouTuber with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Technology from the United States International University- Africa. She has worked in the gaming industry as a writer for more than 5 years now and she aims to demystify the rising gaming industry one story at a time. She is currently doing so through articles for clients as well as through engaging educational animated content on her company’s YouTube channel.

Skills utilised:
News, Stories

Safe In Our World team up with Football Manager 2023

Sports Interactive have joined Safe In Our World as a new Level Up Partner, alongside a collaboration showcasing the charity in Football Manager 2023.

screenshot from FM23, with pitchside banners reading 'you are not alone - we're all in this together' with SIOW logos

It’s fantastic to see in-game activations supporting the charity, and driving the conversation surrounding mental health forward. Prioritising these topics and resources within games is key to spreading player awareness and support. Every player should have access to life-saving resources and information, and mental health is no exception.

“In addition, to highlight some of the fantastic work the charity has been doing in the video games industry, their banners will now appear in Football Manager via the pitch-side hoardings, continuing our commitment since the start of the pandemic to feature mental health advertising space in-game.”

Neil Brock, Sports Interactive – Community & Customer Experience Manager

We have been supported in a number of games creating a space for Safe In Our World, including recent titles such as Martha Is Dead.

In the game Martha is Dead, players are provided with a resource link to the organization Safe in Our World. “If you or someone you know is struggling, information and crisis resources are available at safeinourworld.org/find-help

Safe In Our World also collaborated with Xbox on their mental health accessibility guidelines; a fantastic resource to game developers and publishers looking to get mental health right.

We hope to see more game creators prioritise mental health within their studios and their player bases, and applaud Football Manager for supporting Safe In Our World in their latest season.

Looking to support us?

Are you in the process of making a game, and want to signpost to mental health resources? Get in touch with one of the team, where we can work with you to implement this with you.

Skills utilised:
News

The Sims Update Adds Medical Wearables, Binders and More

The Sims have announced a new update that will see Medical Wearables, Top Surgery Scars, Binders and Shapewear – a huge win for representation within the game.

In the most recent update, The Sims have now confirmed new categories that will be added to the game, improving the scope for character creation representation and for players to feel seen.

Image from The Sims Twitter (@TheSims)

Medical Wearables

This is a new category, under Body and Face Accessories when creating a Sim.

Hearing Aids – available for Toddlers and older Sims, can be assigned to either ear, and comes in 15 colour variants.

Glucose Monitors – available for child and adult Sims, for either arm, or lower abdomen.

Top Surgery Scars

Within the same category, players can now add a trans-inclusive Top Surgery Scar to their teen/older male Sims!

Binders and Shapewear

Within Create a Sim, in the Tops category, Sims can now have a Binder top. Within the Underwear category, there is now shapewear for your Sims.

  • What is a binder? Binders are used to compress your chest/breast tissue, often a way for trans people to feel more comfortable within themself and their body.
  • What is shapewear? Shapewear is used to help change the appearance of your body shape, and can give your body more curvature, for example.

This is a huge triumph in inclusive representation within The Sims, which is known to be a safe haven for many to explore and flourish in their own identity in a safe environment. We’re delighted to see these options continue to expand and allow every player to truly see themselves within video games.

Skills utilised:
News

Neurodiversity & Mental Health

This month, we’re focusing on neurodiversity and how it intersects with our mental health.

We will highlight mental health resources specifically supporting the needs of neurodiverse folk, as well as detail our activities across the month.

What is neurodiversity?

According to the NHS, Neurodiversity is a term used to describe a variation in normal human evolution which means some people think different to others. Neurodiverse conditions include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, tourette syndrome and complex tic disorders.

Nearly 70% of neurodivergent employees experience mental health issues according to a study from Willis Towers Watson

The study looked at data from over 4100 people employed by medium/large companies in 2022, and found that just 25% of neurodivergent employees felt financially secure and emotionally balanced.

Anxiety disorders are common amongst autistic people, with approximately 40% of autistic people having symptoms of at least one anxiety disorder. This is compared to roughtly 15% in the general population – a stark difference.

Our friends at Raise The Game had a discussion with Alice Cooper at Autistica about moving from Autism Awareness to Acceptance in this powerful article.


two people with glasses sit on a bench in front of a screen

Resources

We’ve collated some resources that are dedicated to specifically supporting neurodiverse people:

  • AutisticaAutistica are the UK’s leading autism research and campaigning charity. Their mission is to create breakthroughs that enable all autistic people to live happier, healthier, longer lives. They do this through research, shaping policy and working with autistic people to make a difference.
  • ADHD and Mental Health – Young Minds have brought together a guide for young people looking into ADHD and mental health.
  • Neurodiversity Week – Resources on ADHD, Autism, DCD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. Neurodiversity at work, hiring toolkit and professional resources.
  • Neurodivergent Insights – Book recommendations, how to find a Neurodivergent affirming therapist, and updates on other content from Neurodiverse writers.

Skills utilised:
News

New (And Expanding) Horizons: How Animal Crossing’s Character Creation Update Promotes the Peaceful, Easygoing Existence of BIPOC in Gaming

The date is March 20, 2020. I, like you, was indefinitely confined to my room, and palpably anxious of what the future held for me, my loved ones–the entire world, even. The four walls of my room had otherwise caved in on me. I am convinced that in those months, each night sky was darker than the last.  

March 20th, 2020, however, was different. 

The highly anticipated release date for the newest entry of one of, if not my favorite video game series of all time: Animal Crossing.  

Little did I know that at the time that Animal Crossing: New Horizons was not only an exciting release seven years in the making, but a pertinent release at the inception of 2020 when all the world wanted was an escape from the gloomy reality of a global pandemic. 

A group of animal crossing characters stood on the beach smiling

Animal Crossing’s 20+-year reputation as a rehabilitative gaming experience precedes New Horizons, however. With its sweet shibboleths from adorable animal friends, and a peaceful atmosphere perfectly crafted by its folksy soundtrack and tranquil world designs, Animal Crossing is the quintessential escape for when your brain is at wit’s end. My excitement for the d-day rested not only in my willing, lifelong devotion to being indebted to Tom Nook, but because this was the first main entry Animal Crossing game where my avatar would actually look like me. 

Not seeing myself in video games is unfortunately not new for me, as it is for the rest of the BIPOC gaming community. It has been over forty years since the first BIPOC character appeared in video games–Sega’s Heavyweight Champ of 1976–but we have come a long way since those pixelated days. The courageous Miles Morales from the PS5 launch title Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the gritty Lee Walker from The Walking Dead, and the charismatic Lady Aveline de Grandprè from Assassin’s Creed are a few compelling BIPOC characters that come to mind.  

But in that forty-year period between Heavyweight Champ and Miles Morales being the first Black protagonist in a Playstation launch game, the BIPOC community found themselves shackled in stereotypes. Black and brown people were stuck in sports games (mostly because they represented real athletes), or more egregiously so, were criminal caricatures in games such as the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Asian men were perpetual kung fu master fixtures in fighting games like Street Fighter; women of the same origins were fetishized to the point of dehumanization in games like the Dead or Alive Xtreme franchise and Def Jam: Fight for New York; indigenous and aboriginal people were watered down to mystical shamans, such as Nightwolf in Mortal Kombat. 

a photo from GTA San Andreas with 7 Black men carrying guns and in headbands

These vapid characterizations of the BIPOC community are not an accident. 

Professor Soraya Murray states in her book On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space that “…the isolation of game culture from culture at large functions to maintain the false notion that games do not work on you as culture does – that they are not part of that place where dominant values are conveyed and contested, alternatives produced and resistances generated.” How video games are created, and the worlds that subsist within that creation, are a reflection of not only how the industry understands the BIPOC community, but how the BIPOC community should, and will, understand their roles to be in the virtual and real worlds. 

And that is troubling. 

Photo from Dead or Alive with 6 women stood in short skirts and crop tops

Especially considering the industry’s most active users are African-American males and Latinx males aged 13 and over.  

Why are BIPOC protagonists with a nuanced story just now showing up despite this, and how has that affected the mental health of BIPOC children and adults who grew up in that forty-year period?  

“Relationships with characters in video games have a social cognitive impact on gamers and can strengthen a sense of identity and social support,” Dr. Katryna Starks, a post doctorate professor of Game Studies says. “We deserve to feel that these gaming worlds were made for us to be in, too, and that we belong there.”  

Black in Gaming, a foundation that provides space for Black game developers, conducted a study in 2021 that showed over 75% of the gaming industry is white, 10% Latinx, 4% Indigenous, 3% Asian, 2% Black. Such a disparity in diversity results in not a genuine interpretation of BIPOC characters by BIPOC themselves, but a commodified understanding of BIPOC characters, which has historically fallen into harmful stereotypes. While these percentages are increasing, the industry still has a long way to go.  

The truth is that in that forty-year period where BIPOC characters were props to the permanent white protagonist fixture in blockbuster games, character customization is where we authentically saw ourselves, most notably in games like The Sims or Skyrim. While these games masterfully construct their character customization models to impact the trajectory of the narrative–giving the player a genuine sense of autonomy and accomplishment when completing the game–there is something profoundly simple in Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ revision of its character customization to make the BIPOC community feel seen in the gaming world. 

2 BIPOC ACNH characters smiling together on the rock by the beach

I love a grandiose adventure that introduces me to new ideas and challenges me to be the best version of myself, but even though I can live vicariously through the bravery and toughness of Miles Morales, Lee Walker or Lady Aveline de Grandpre…I do not always want to be strong.  

Sometimes, I want to rest in my skin. 

Sometimes, I want my biggest concern to be whether I remembered to water my favorite peonies by the pond I created just for my favorite villager (which is Peanut by the way). Animal Crossing: New Horizons finally invites us to that getaway by introducing skin tones that match me, match us. Like its name, provides new horizons for a mentally exhausted, historically underrepresented community in gaming, and provides them the serene opportunity to come as they are, distance themselves from the stress of the real world, and build a beautiful respite of unlimited potential. 


Megan Pitz is an Asian American writer, JRPG enthusiast, and lover of all things cute. She has published research on the impact of BIPOC representation in children’s literature in Critical Insights: Jamaica Kincaid, and continues to write and research about the impact of BIPOC and queer representation in youth.

Skills utilised:
News, Stories

Conquering Imposter Syndrome and Embracing My Identity as a Black Game Developer

Part of my childhood in the 90s involved going to the computer store with my Dad and picking out PC games on floppy disks.

Back then, when YouTube didn’t exist, when there were no trailers or gameplay videos to watch, the way some of us would learn about new games would be through a preview of another game. If it looked fun, you would hunt it down.

a father is walking in a green forest area with arms outstretched giving his daughter a piggy back. Her arms also outstretched.

Other times it was random. You hoped the game was fun because of the title. One of the games that my Dad brought home one day was a game called Myst. The title and cover art caught my attention, but I had no idea what it was truly about.

I remember inserting the CD-ROM into our computer and being immediately captivated by the stunning graphics and mysterious atmosphere. It was a puzzle-adventure game, where the player is stranded on an island and must solve various puzzles in order to progress and uncover the secrets of the island.

Playing Myst was an experience unlike any other I had before. The game was challenging and required a lot of critical thinking, but it never felt impossible. Solving each puzzle brought a sense of accomplishment and made me eager to find out what the next one would be.

Myst was a game that I spent countless hours on, and it left a lasting impact on me. It was one of the first games that sparked my love for the adventure and puzzle genre and it holds a special place in my childhood memories.

It was a reminder of the thrill and excitement of discovering new games, and the joy of experiencing something new and different. As I grew up, I slowly drifted away from playing games to ultimately focusing my attention on my work as a software developer.

My journey to where I am today was not and is still not easy. I’ve worked in the tech industry for nearly a decade. As a Black woman in the male-dominated world of tech, I’ve had moments where I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome and a lack of belonging.

perspective photo in a misty city looking up at several tall buildings

But ultimately, I didn’t allow these thoughts to hold me back. I persevered and worked hard to build my skills and knowledge. I sought out mentors and support from my community, and I learned to embrace my identity as more of an opportunity than a setback. After spending several years working in the tech industry and honing my programming skills, I began to feel unfulfilled and stagnant in my career.

I began to explore the concept of Ikigai, a Japanese principle of finding one’s purpose in life by identifying the intersection of what one loves, what one is good at, what the world needs, and what one can be paid for. Through this process, I realized that my true passion was in using my programming skills to bring stories and ideas to life. This realization led me to pursue indie game development, where I could combine my technical skills and creative passions to create meaningful and engaging games.

When I first decided to transition into game development, I had many initial doubts. I was concerned that my lack of experience in the field would hold me back and that I would not be able to progress. I also worried about being a woman of colour in an industry that is not known for its diversity. I questioned my skills and wondered if I was truly cut out for it. However, I knew that I had a passion for it and decided to push through these fears and doubts, and give it a try.

6 arms reaching out connecting hands over a desk

I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Creative Business at the National Film and Television school, which has been instrumental in my journey. Additionally, being a member of BAFTA Connect and a Women in Games Ambassador has provided me with valuable connections and support, which has helped to alleviate feelings of imposter syndrome and open doors for professional opportunities.

As I progress on my journey, I realize that my unique background brings a fresh perspective to the industry and that my experiences as a woman of colour are an asset.

My journey has taught me that it is important to pursue your passion and never give up on your dreams, even when facing challenges. It also taught me that representation matters, and that it’s important to use your voice and platform to speak out about the importance of diversity and inclusivity in any industry.

I encourage anyone facing similar challenges to pursue their dreams and never give up on their passion. Seek help when needed, and embrace your identity and unique perspective, it is an asset to the industry as a whole.


Theresa Johnson is a Game Dev, Women In Games Ambassador, member of BAFTA Connect and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Creative Business at the National Film and TV school.

Skills utilised:
News, Stories

Me, Myself and Life Is Strange: True Colors

Alex Chen is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American, starting a new life in fictional Colorado town Haven Springs with her brother Gabe after a troubling experience with the foster system.

Michelle Ridge is a non-binary Filipino American, born and raised in Southern California to a young single mother who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines. Michelle has been waiting for Alex to show up for a long time, even though they will never meet.

Alex is empathy on overdrive; she has the ability to see the emotional auras of others and of objects. The issue is in being able to decide when that happens and the extent it permeates through Alex herself. As someone who had no boundaries and went through one too many abusive friendships and relationships, I know this feeling all too well. When Alex would interact with someone sad, she would be sad; the same applied to anger, fear, and joy.

A screenshot where Alex is reaching out to Steph who's back is turned, with a blue 'aura' surrounding her.

I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) seven years ago. I have a desperate need to avoid real or perceived abandonment as well as an unstable sense of self. In my past, I got rid of anything about myself that was a perceived burden or a stressor, as long as whoever I wanted in my life would not leave me. I didn’t always think of my ability to practice this level of empathy and concern as a tool but when you cannot use it in a healthy way you can lose yourself, turning it into a curse.

Mental illness can often worsen due to things that happen around you outside of your control and can impact how you approach your life. Alex’s mother on her last breaths told her not to cry, and in reference to her brother and father told Alex “They’re going to need you. You have to be strong.” There is such an emphasis on the family as the most important unit in many Asian cultures, so much so that one is discouraged from focusing on themselves as individuals.

Alex and her brother Gabe, Gabe is looking at Alex with his hands on his hips, and Alex looks forwards with one hand on her backpack strap.

Basic needs can be a huge stressor for a struggling family and I remember how isolating and frustrating it felt to be denied what I needed. Whether it was through government assistance programs or extreme couponing, my mother worked to build a stable home. We were often threatened in jest to be sent back to family in the Philippines if we complained, which was effective albeit cruel.

In Alex’s world it all became too much for her father and when he lost his job he lost all hope, eventually deciding to abandon them. We realize exactly how much of an anchor her mother was in their home. My own mother was the main provider in our family, and her strength or energy levels after work would determine the outlook of the evening.

an image of Charlotte crying with a red aura surrounding her. Alex is in the background looking at Charlotte

As much as my own journey through therapy is to re-parent and heal my inner child, I am still grateful to have had my mother around through my toughest years. In contrast, Alex’s experience of constant rejection in the foster care system did not help with any of the negative self-talk. It may have exacerbated the need to anticipate the feelings or concerns of others. When you are constantly wrapped up in other people it can create an incredibly lonely inner world. The echoes of adults saying “there’s just something off… broken… wrong… with her” are loud and can drown out hope.

There is also a deep guilt that comes from being a first generation Asian American as a result of the many hardships borne by our parents. This guilt can drive extreme effort and overachievement while leaving us unprepared for failures. In spite of this, the hospitality and kindness in Filipino culture resonates with me. It’s likely that if you interact with healthcare, that nurse or caregiver you will meet is from the Philippines. They have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic and their selflessness deserves more recognition. You’ll never leave a Filipino home hungry or weary, our hosting capabilities are legendary and we know how to rock the at-home karaoke system.

Alex Chen looking to the left of the camera in glasses, and signature denim jacket hoodie combo

You may be wondering “Why does representation matter?”, and I respond with: hope, education, and advocacy. More diversity in games fosters hope for a more compassionate future, education to challenge one’s assumptions and biases, and advocacy to stop the cycle of generational trauma. Being quiet about our inner world for appearance’s sake can be so damaging, and the importance of mental health advocacy and education spans beyond the Western world.

I have mental illness and implore the games industry to stop assuming we are abusers, murderers or serial killers. We live among you and are someone’s friend, partner, or colleague. Asians are also not by default the embodiment of a martial arts montage and there is more to us than some fearsome member of a crime syndicate. These tropes are tired and overused. We are artists, storytellers, and more.

It’s been a little over a year since Alex Chen. Let’s not wait another ten years before we can see more examples of the capabilities from the Asian communities of our world and cultures therein. We’ve been here, we’ll continue to be here, and we should have the space and resources to tell our vibrant stories.


Michelle Ridge is a Filipino-American writer based out of California. They have written a variety of articles such as board game reviews for Board Game Quest and indie game coverage on their personal Ko-Fi blog. As a Take This Streaming Ambassador, she believes in the intersection of mental health advocacy, hope in game narratives, and the communities that surround them.

Skills utilised:
News

Leveling the Playing Field in BIPOC Mental Health

For this month’s theme, we’re focusing on BIPOC mental health, and how we can better support and uplift under-represented groups in the games industry. We’re delighted to parner with BiG to create our new diversity initiative: Leveling the Playing Field in BIPOC mental health.

In the first round of a series of industry spotlights, we’re seeking to highlight the outstanding work done by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) and to improve the visibility surrounding mental health, specifically in diverse communities. In collaboration with our friends at BiG and Jerreau, we’ve gotten to chat to each of these people to learn more about the work they do and the impact they’re having.

BAME in Games (BiG)

BAME in Games, also known as BiG, is a grass-roots, advocacy group, dedicated to improving ethnic diversity and encouraging minorities to work within the games and broader entertainment industry. They do outstanding work in the industry, including running their Games Digital Mentorship Programme. Founded in 2016, BiG has since developed into a professional network, celebrating and cultivating diverse talent within the UK. As an advocacy group, BiG is a volunteer-led organisation, open to everyone who cares about equality within the industry.

 

Annabel Ashalley-Anthony

Founder at Melanin Gamers

Favourite Game: AC Ezio Series

Annabel is the founder of the award-winning gaming community: Melanin Gamers, a gaming community that promotes inclusion and diversity in the video games industry. Alongside her passion for writing and gaming, she is also an avid fundraiser and regularly works with the Bloodfund an Imperial Health Charity to raise awareness and funds for Sickle-Cell Anaemia.

“We have also worked with multiple charities and organisations to raise awareness for mental health, recently we have worked with RESET MH a mental health charity that provides free services to black people in the UK. Mental health is very important to us and in 2021 we launched self-care Sundays series to provide our community members with various showcases on what self-care means including cooking classes, candle making and mediation.”


Gabriela A

Twitch Streamer & Speedrunner

Favourite Game: Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town (GBA)

“As a Twitch streamer, I try to keep my spot on the internet a safe space to openly discuss matters of mental health. I speak on my own struggles with anxiety and foster an environment of comfort and understanding.

As a speedrunner, I lend my skills to charity showcases and fundraisers for organizations like It Gets Better and Take This!”


Jerreau Henry

Content Creator & Community Manager at BAME in Games

Favourite Game: Metal Gear Solid

“As the Content Creator & Community Manager for BiG, I’m proud to work on diversity initiatives such as Games Devs Across Africa and “this” 🙂 to spotlight and encourage BIPOC leaders and aspiring gamesindustry talent. I hope the stories can uplift more people from marginalised groups to have their voices heard.”

Jerreau is also a member of the Class of 2023 Ambassadors and has been incredible in pulling this campaign together with us.


Ladell Smith

Associate Social & Community Manager at Auroch Digital

Favourite Game: Destiny 2

I am a Safe In Our World Ambassador and I will never stop talking about mental health. From my own experiences, I love to let others know that there are not alone and that they are being heard.

We recently had Ladell join us for an episode of the podcast to discuss BIPOC mental health, and how to become a better ally within the industry.


Mikayla Sinead

Founder and CEO at Bridge Network Group

Favourite Game: Way too hard a question for a gamer, but in the mix are Bully, Red Dead Redemption 2, Skyrim Elder Scrolls and Sonic 2

I have the pleasure of curating the #GameJoy series. These in-person events, industry talks, and a podcast make room for those of us from intersectional communities to connect with gaming as mental health and wellbeing tool. I’m excited to bring more #gameJoy to BIPOC in 2023.

Mikayla is also a Safe In Our World Patron, and co-hosted an episode of the podcast where we spoke to Katy Bentz.


Muse Lystrala

Executive Director and Lead Composer at Queenship Game Studio

Favourite Game: Stardew Valley

I founded Queenship Game Studio, an MWBE-qualified company making games about mental health and relationships. Our goal is to educate, to illuminate, and to destigmatize the conversation surrounding mental health, especially in communities of color.


Nigel Twumasi

Co-founder & CEO at mayamada

Favourite Game: God of War (2018)

Nigel Twumasi is the co-founder of mayamada, an entertainment brand that reaches across comics, video games and youth engagement. His use of storytelling empowers creativity and his brand promotes mental health among young people and his team through discussions that demystify and reduce stigma. In 2019 Nigel was part of the nationwide 56 Black Men campaign, and in 2022 was appointed as a member of the London Mayor’s Cultural Leadership Board.

Nigel is also a Patron of Safe In Our World and joined us on the podcast to talk about his campaign ‘Do I Look Like A Gamer?’


Raccine Malcolm

Director of Growth & People / DEIB & Community Consultant

I’m a communications, DEIB, & HR/recruitment professional that specializes in empathy-driven, engagement-based community development and management. Advocating for true diversity and inclusion through psychosocially-aware community development and curation is core to my work along with ensuring that any company I work with aligns heavily with intrinsic principles of DEIB. Multicultural awareness, belonging, along with the interconnectedness of communities are some of my deepest interests and driving forces behind my work.

Raccine is also an Ambassador for Safe In Our World and was fundamental in setting up our Community Discord Safer Together.


Vanessa Sauls

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor

Favourite Game: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

I work as EDI Advisor at the Francis Crick Institute, covering a wide range of topics like disability awareness and race equity. I have lived experience with mental health and am passionate about championing wellbeing in and outside of work!

Vanessa is also a part of our DASEC, supporting Safe In Our World on their improvements in EDI, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement.

Skills utilised:
News

BIPOC Mental Health

This month, we’re focusing on BIPOC mental health in collaboration with Black Twitch UK, and will highlight mental health resources specifically supporting the needs of BIPOC folk, as well as detail our activities across the month.

BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Many members of BIPOC communities deal with stress and trauma that can stem from specific socioeconomic struggles that consciously and subconsciously impact the everyday lives of the community – ADAA

It’s important to recognise that often due to systemic racism, BIPOC people are misdiagnosed, or underrepresented within mental health conversations and systems across the world. There is also a link to socioeconomic factors rooted in racism that have lead to inequity within the mental health space, including increased levels of poverty, lack of accessibility, and distrust in the systems created without BIPOC people in mind. We must collectively uplift BIPOC voices in mental health. The MHA have an article with more information on racism and mental health here.

According to Mental Health America, multiracial people were most likely to screen positive or at-risk for alcohol/substance use disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and psychosis. Native and Indigenous people were most likely to screen positive or at-risk for bipolar disorder and PTSD. Research suggests that Black Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than are White Americans, yet they are less likely to use mental health services.

Language and culture also play a part in examining the difference in views on mental health across the globe. Symptoms/feelings can often be mistranslated or misinterpreted across language, especially when taking into account cultural traditions, stigma and expectations. There is often disparity in mental health provisions and resources globally which can have a knock-on impact on seeking treatment, patient experience and stigma. The American Counseling Association publication ‘Counseling Today’ has an article discussing this in more detail.

 

Resources

We’ve collated global resources that are dedicated to specifically supporting BIPOC people in mental health. You can find a list of additional crisis helplines and resources here.


USA-based

BlackLine1 (800) 604-5841 – 24/7 Text or Call Hotline: a space for peer support, counseling, witnessing and affirming the lived experiences to folxs who are most impacted by systematic oppression with an LGBTQ+ Black Femme Lens.

DeQH908-367-3374 – Hotline for South Asian/Desi LGBTQ individuals, family, and friends.

Therapy for Black Girls – run by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, this support resource includes a mental health podcast, looking to create more accessible information and discussions for Black women. The website includes a welcoming community, and a search function for therapists (both virtual and in-person) local to you.

BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective) – national training, movement building and grant making institution dedicated to the healing, wellness and liberation of Black and marginalised communities.

Asian Mental Health Project – educates and empowers pan-Asian communities to seek mental-health services by hosting mostly virtual wellness events, weekly check-ins that function as support groups, and workshops with speakers.

Therapy for Black Men – born from the idea that Black men and boys face unique challenges and stigmatization, and therefore need a dedicated space for seeking and finding mental health support, and has been able to provide $70,000+ free therapy to Black Men in the USA.

Black Men Heal – a 501c3 grassroots nonprofit organization offering up to 8 free therapy sessions for Black men.

National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network – a healing justice organization committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color.

The Loveland Foundation – committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls, with a Therapy Fund for those who need it.

Mental Health Fund for Queer & Trans BIPOC – designed to address the economic barriers inherent in healthcare and the mental health system by providing financial assistance.

Resources to Empower Asian and Pacific Islander Communities – a list of organizations and resources focused on addressing the needs of the API community.

WeRNative – a comprehensive health resource for Native youth, by Native youth, providing content and stories about the topics that matter most to them.

EBONY’s State-By-State Resources – a list of Black owned and focused mental health resources.

Melanin and Mental Health – connecting people with Black and Latinx mental health providers, free resources and BIPOC creators in the mental health space.


UK-based

Black Minds Matter – a charity operating in the UK; connecting Black individuals and families with free mental health services by professional Black therapists to support their mental health.

BAATN (Black, African and Asian Therapy Network) – home of the largest community of Counsellors and Psychotherapists of Black, African, Asian and Caribbean Heritage in the UK.

Rainbow Noir – a volunteer-led social group, we celebrate, elevate and advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and/or Intersex people of colour (LGBTQI PoC).


Global

ASHA International – founded by Gayathri Ramprasad, ASHA is the culmination of a promise to deliver international information, tools, and messages of hope.

Mendu – an app aimed to empower, boost unique voices and uplift women of colour.

 

This Month’s Activity

We will be delivering information, experiences, resources and content about BIPOC Mental Health. Get ready for a panel all about BIPOC Mental Health with our friends at Black Twitch UK, stories from the community about personal experiences and mental health journeys, and new podcast episodes exploring the topic.

Plus, we will be adding new games and apps to our list, as well as boosting BIPOC creators doing outstanding work in mental health advocacy.

Skills utilised:
News

How Skyrim’s open world helped me through my Seasonal Affective Disorder

My teenage years were a cycle: agonising winters and blissful summers. As the nights grew longer–and the cold of winter started to bite–I’d find myself struggling with sleep, experiencing low moods and anxiety. And, at least for a while, I convinced myself what I was feeling was normal.

People would often complain about the bad weather, the winter blues, the longing for warmer days and the reminiscing of summer–looking back, my subconscious self-denial was understandable but vastly unproductive. It was only when I took a trip to the doctor that I understood the true nature, and reason, for the way I was feeling. “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons,” Mairead Molly, a relationship strategist and member of the British Psychology Association, said.

“SAD usually begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the autumn and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”

Data suggests I’m not the only one who has experienced the seasonal affective disorder. According to research by Micro Biz Mag, over a third of those aged 16 either have either expected they have it or reported suffering from low moods in autumn and winter.

The research also posits that men are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with SAD, at 9 per cent, compared to women, at 4 per cent. Rather strikingly, the data also showed that women are likely to suffer more from low moods in the darker months, at 18.28 per cent, than men, at 12.87 per cent.

“Signs and symptoms of SAD can include: feeling sad or down most of the day, nearly every day; losing interest in activities you once enjoyed; having low energy and feeling sluggish, or having problems with sleep,” Molly continued. “Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own.”

When winter rolled around, video games were a lifeline–in particular Skyrim. The open world of Tamriel offered me a chance to escape my claustrophobia-inducing bedroom walls, whether it was hiking through the Jerall mountains or exploring the many vibrant towns the game had to offer. Although it may sound strange–and I’m not suggesting it was a substitute for actual sunlight–traversing the vast, and often beautiful, digital universe gave me a full powerful sense of immersion, akin to if I was to take a hike in the real world.

Research backs this up too–and psychologists have a word for it: ‘spatial presence’, also known as, ‘immersion’. The theory was postulated by psychologist Werner Wirth, who says spatial presence happens when players form a representation in their minds of the space, or world, with which the game is presented to them; and players begin to favour the game as their point of reference for where they are. In other words, if a game is immersive enough it can, to some degree, feel like you’re actually there.

“In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear and structured gameplay,” Molly added. “There is something to open-world games that really work magic for players–it makes exploration a big part of the game and gives room for discovering something new in every playthrough.”

In recent years, psychologists have further proved the power of immersion in video games, and the positive impact it can have on our mental health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, research found that the social, open world game Animal Crossing: New Horizons had a positive impact in reducing stress and benefiting the mental health of players.

Luckily the stigma surrounding the relationship and mental health is changing. Although my story shouldn’t be used to generalise the millions of people suffering from seasonal affective disorder each year, it shows immersion in digital worlds can go a long way to help those dealing with this condition–especially in conjunction with other therapies.

Escapism can be a powerful form of recovery. If the real world is bringing you the winter blues, give an open world game, like Skyrim, a try–it might just be the hit of warmth you need.


Jack Ramage is a freelance features journalist based in Manchester, UK.

With an MA in Journalism and a BSc in Psychology, he covers social issues, culture and mental health. You can follow him on Twitter here.

 

Skills utilised:
News

Taking ‘The Longest Walk’ with Sandy (Interview)

In this interview, we speak to Sandy Tarvet, developer of the game The Longest Walk, about the process of developing such a personal and emotional experience.

In October 2022, Safe In Our World travelled to sunny Glasgow to attend Scottish Games Week with Barclays. There, we met Sandy, who was showcasing the game alongside Bafta Games. Rosie managed to get a chance to play through the game at the event, and here’s what she had to say:

Whilst I was playing through, I was completely fixated on the story. I was aware that there were a lot of people around me wandering around the Expo, but it was all just background. I’ll also admit I got emotional playing this game. Within this short experience, it was like the game whisked me away to a totally different place.

It’s 9 and a half minutes long, and it is hard to listen to. I’d recommend anyone to play it if they feel able to. Sandy had to give me a hug after I played this, it definitely hit hard.


The Interview

Tell us a little bit about the concept of ‘The Longest Walk’

The Longest Walk is a BAFTA nominated biographical walking simulator game about my dad’s experience of living with depression and suicidal ideation. The game centres around the Tay Road Bridge – a crisis area between Dundee City and Fife for those seeking to take their own life – and tasks the player with virtually walking in my dad’s footsteps as he recalls his journey through some of the toughest moments in his life.

What inspired you to make a game to tell this story?

I am currently undertaking a PhD at Abertay University in Dundee, with a focus on how designers can communicate lived experiences of health issues through games authentically and respectfully. The Longest Walk – whilst forming part of my research – stemmed from a personal interest in finding out more about my dad.

My brothers and I were quite young at the time of my dad’s depressive episodes, and my parents tried their best to shield us from the severity of the situation at the time. Now that I am older and my dad is in a position to be able to reflect on things, I took this opportunity to learn about his experience and turn it into something that others can hopefully benefit from.

 

How did creating the game itself make you feel?

Due to the very personal nature of the project and content, the development process has been incredibly challenging.

Conducting the interview was a surprisingly cathartic experience for us, as we had taken that first step to breaking down the barrier about opening up about mental health issues. We both wanted to talk with each other about his experience, but neither of us knew how to broach the subject.

We went into great detail during the 54-minute-long interview; however, I knew that for an impactful game experience using limited mechanics or interaction, the core themes and messages would need to be condensed into something much shorter.

The process of transcribing, coding, reconstructing, implementing, and testing audio in which my dad was discussing the pain he was in, his mindset at the time, and his plans to take his own life was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

Was it hard to share this game with loved ones?

I shared drafts of my work throughout the development process with my parents to ensure that what I was creating was authentic, respectful, and most importantly of all, communicating a positive message that things can and do get better. Despite keeping my parents in the loop throughout development, I was still very nervous when I brought the final version of the game round to their house to show my family.

Before building the game in engine, I had also sent the interview in its entirety to my brothers, so they could get the same complete insight into my dad’s situation that I was given.

 

What is your hope for players to take away from this experience?

The Longest Walk hopes to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation through shared experience and encourage those who are suffering from depression or experiencing suicidal thoughts to reach out for help. For those who have no experience of depression, the game aims to raise awareness of, and provide an insight into what it is like living with depression in order to provoke discussion and help tackle the stigma around opening-up about mental health issues. If the game can help even one person change their outlook, then it has been worth it.

 

What would you like to see more of in game narratives?

I would like to see more small indie games focusing on personal experiences. Games such as Fabi Reichsoellner’s “a memory of this” and Ryan and Amy Green’s “That Dragon, Cancer” raise awareness of and provide such beautifully harrowing insights into topics that are typically difficult to discuss.

 

Skills utilised:
News, Stories

Announcing our DASEC Members

We’ve recruited 6 lay members to join our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement Committee (DASEC)!

The DASEC will review Safe In Our World’s policies, strategy and activities, and support us in consistently positively addressing these issues.

Meet the DASEC lay members

Suneet Sharma he/him

Suneet is the Chair of the DASEC, and in his day job works as a legal professional with the Associated Press, BBC and formally SEGA Europe in Legal & Business Affairs. Suneet hopes to bring his lived experience of mental health matters and passion for LGBTQ+ issues to assist Safe In Our World.

Suneet loves how videogames can bridge experiences.


Rebekah S she/her

Rebekah is a games industry professional and has worked in a variety of business and operations roles for almost 20 years – 8 of them in the games industry. Rebekah is passionate about mental health and creating the best possible work environments for people to thrive in. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in both her professional work and personal life.

She is a very proud mum to both her human toddler and cat children and loves watching super hero (Marvel, sorry DC fans) movies whilst eating cake… and biscuits…


Susi Bauer she/they

Susi is the Head of Careers at Into Games & has over 8 years of experience in the UK games industry. She’s passionate about making the sector more equitable, safe, and inclusive for talent from underrepresented backgrounds.

By bringing her experience in DEI, empathetic communication, & leadership to the Committee, she’s hoping to support Safe In Our World in their important mission. She believes creating better support & understanding around mental health in the games industry is essential to ensure everyone can thrive within it.


Elizabeth Astwood they/she

Elisabeth is a transmedia storyteller, researcher, and arts leader whose goal is to nurture an equitable global community through story. Most recently the Founder / Narrative Director of Studio Lazulite, they have had the privilege of collaborating with many innovative programs, businesses, and arts organizations over the past decade.

As a Women In Games Ambassador and ADPList Narrative Design Mentor, they are always looking for opportunities to grow community and uplift marginalized voices.


Vanessa Sauls she/her

Vanessa is an interdisciplinary professional and scholar with expertise in human rights, policy research, and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). After graduating in Law from Queen Mary University, she went on to work with a wide range of organisations in the private and third sector.

Vanessa is also a musical artist. She has performed internationally and across the UK, including festivals like Glastonbury, Love Supreme, and Montreux Jazz. Her music intersects hip hop and alternative R&B with custom synthesised sounds.

Vanessa loves gaming and her first exposure to synths was as a child in the arcade. She continues to embed these sounds in her music.


El Wylde they/them

El is a caster, observer, and coach, across multiple esports titles. They go by “EKO” online and have a huge passion for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – specifically within the esports space.

They’re currently coaching a minority gender VALORANT team and using this as their first step towards helping the esports scene.


Coral Campbell she/her

Coral is an Equity advisor in the NHS and currently writing a masters dissertation on gender and race representations in video games.

Coral’s dream is to join her two passions for Equity and Inclusion with her life-long love of video games and her lived experience of living with various mental health conditions to help be a positive force for change in the industry.

Coral’s past time’s aside from gaming include watching anime, cooking, reading and musical theatre.

Skills utilised:
News

Staff Picks: December Games

We wanted to embrace talking about the individual connection that players have to the games that they play, and why. So, we’re sharing our staff picks of the games we’ve been diving into this December, and the reasons why.

Benn

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013)

I’ve been playing “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” on Switch, which I particularly like because I can play it with my daughter, and its designed to play with someone else as the two brother characters have to help each other survive and navigate the land on a treacherous journey, all while reconciling the loss of their mother. 
Want to learn more about Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons? It’s also mentioned in our games on grief article here.

Benn Wiebe


Sky

Pokémon Scarlet (2022)

Yes, I know it has a lot of issues, but I’ve been playing Pokémon Scarlet and I love it. Between us, my partner and I have over 230 in-game hours and are still playing the post-game daily.

While I was again disappointed by a rival whose entire personality is “Battle Me,” the other NPCs were better fleshed out, and the story was surprisingly emotionally driven. No, the world didn’t need saving, but the characters were working through interpersonal conflict while displaying and often openly discussing their feelings. A famous artist in the game openly discusses how he almost “gave up on everything” before finding meaning in his life, and another character discusses feelings of abandonment after his mother neglects him for her work.

There’s much more to be discovered throughout the game – especially if you attend all the classes at school – and I’m not going to spoil everything here, but it was wonderful to explore this world full of diverse characters (including those with different body types!) and see sorrow, anxiety, and anger interwoven throughout the story.

Sky Tunley-Stainton


Rosie

God of War Ragnarok (2022)

In the Game Awards last year, I named God of War (2018) the greatest game of all time on camera, and I stand by it.

This sequel absolutely does it justice so far, and it’s everything I could have hoped for. The acting is incredible. The details are incredible. The world design is incredible. The storytelling is incredible. Even whilst struggling through on an old and performance-questionable PS4, everything is incredible.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop shouting about how much I love God of War, honestly. I’m not even sorry. Or, you’re welcome? If you’re interested in listening to more God of War ramble, Nigel and I talk about it on our podcast episode. Have fun!

Rosie Taylor


Jake

Project Zomboid (2013)

Project Zomboid is a game that over the past year has been my go to comfort game… Now what is comfortable about a zombie apocalypse?
I love the whole zombie game thing, and I feel Project Zomboid gives you infinite amounts of freedom to live out your scenario. You can choose a mansion to live in, build it up, steal cakes from the bakeries and live of Cheesecake diets. I find it really relaxing and fun to play, it always takes me out of reality and really is wonderful.

Jake Smith

Skills utilised:
News

Ease your winter woes with a virtual wellness walk

There’s a lamp on my desk that belongs to my dad. I’ve had it for years, and while I don’t recall exactly when I acquired it, it spends half the year switched off and the other half on. At the end of October, just after the clocks go back in the UK, when the dark nights roll in like thunder and the temperature drops like a stone, my dad asks: “Are you using that light yet?”

I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, you see, or SAD as it’s more commonly known. The light in question is a SAD lamp – an angled UV-free light designed to simulate sunlight, and thus reduce the production of melatonin and combat the fatigue, irritability and low moods that are synonymous with winter depression.

A number of years ago, in the shadow of my uncle’s suicide, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, an affliction I’ve since discussed with a number of therapists over time, and one which I offset with a long-term course of anti-depressant medication. Generally speaking, I’m pretty familiar with feelings of despair and worthlessness on a day-to-day basis, then but at this time of year, it all gets distinctly worse. 

Through this, my SAD lamp does its bit to keep me right. Talking to those closest to me does too, not least to my parents, my girlfriend, and my pals. My GP is a wonderful professional whose bedside manner is second to none, and I’ve leant on the NHS on more than one occasion to access counselling if ever I’ve found myself sinking especially low.

Another outlet that I invariably use to fight the winter blues is video games. It’s hardly a secret that games can offer us escapism, but it’s those titles that give us massive, beautiful worlds to explore from the comfort of our living rooms that I find immeasurably helpful at this time of year – the ones that let me lose myself in their sprawling, sun-kissed plains; their lush rolling hills; and their towering, knife-edged mountain ranges. 

From The Witcher 3 to Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Fallout: New Vegas, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Skyrim, taking a stroll in the most gorgeous of virtual settings, sidestepping combat to simply exist in these games’ vibrant landscapes is a sure-fire way to balance me out. If a game offers thoughtful side activities, such as fishing or sailing, along the way that’s grand; but even an aimless wander by the shores of the Hylia River or around Velen’s swamps to collect my thoughts is more than ideal. I once tagged along with a pseudo self-help walking group that exists in Grand Theft Auto 5’s online roleplaying community, who meet up at random intervals in-game to climb Mount Chiliad and chat about their mental health highs and lows. I left the group with some touching memories, and a new appreciation for player creativity in a game otherwise designed to facilitate virtual violence. 

To this end, walking simulators provide the same outlet for me. Ever since The Chinese Room’s 2008 indie gem Dear Esther popularised the genre, I’ve enjoyed taking time out of real life to unwind in unfamiliar, non-combative worlds – some of which are purely fantastical, others of which mirror reality. The same developer’s BAFTA-winning Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, for example, lets you explore an unremarkable town somewhere in pastoral England and is absolutely wonderful.

With the late summer sun beaming down on your face, you’re tasked with uncovering a mystery that sees you slowly wandering around narrow country roads lined with red phone boxes, inside quaint rural pubs, and across golden farmlands and swaying wheat fields. By simply thinking about this game, I can feel the stress sliding off my shoulders, and its vibrant colour palette works wonders for my S.A.D. 

Campo Santo’s Firewatch is another brilliant non-violent adventure with some equally eye-watering visuals. Filling the boots of a lookout named Henry working in Shoshone National Forest a year after the Yellowstone fires of 1988, you’re again tasked with untangling a mystery while roving around in a beautiful non-linear setting. Without the pressure of a time limit, stopping to smell the roses is an absolute must in this world as you gather clues and learn more about the gorgeous playground around you.

Other favourites of mine in this vein include the coming-of-age tale Gone Home, the auditory delights of Journey, the quirky and unorthodox What Remains of Edith Finch, the hauntingly beautiful The Unfinished Swan, and the unforgettable Ether One – the latter of which explores themes of mental illness and the fragility of the human mind. 

Which brings me back full-circle. At the beginning of the still-ongoing global pandemic, our worlds were shrunk down considerably almost overnight. Lockdown and quarantine measures across the globe restricted travel not far beyond our doorsteps, and while much of these constraints have been lifted here in the UK, there are still many countries elsewhere in the world where they remain in place. Video games can’t replace real world exploration, but they can offer an escape in times of crisis – be that on a collective scale or a personal level.

This year, I’ll be escaping to the farthest flung corners of my favourite video games, taking wellness walks in virtual worlds that rescue me from another freezing and wet winter in Glasgow. And in doing so, I’ll answer my dad: “Yes, I am using that light. But I’m also using The Witcher 3 and Firewatch, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Skyrim and Ether One to help me deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder.” I hope you’re able to get away this winter too. And I look forward to us turning off the light together at the other end.  


Joe Donnelly

Joe Donnelly is a Glaswegian writer, video games enthusiast and mental health advocate. He has written about both subjects for The Guardian, VICE, his narrative non-fiction book Checkpoint, and believes the interactive nature of games makes them uniquely placed to educate and inform.


Skills utilised:
News

Our Ambassador Class of 2023

We’re delighted to present our Ambassador Class of 2023 for Safe In Our World.

We’ve selected 25 outstanding individuals advocating for mental health, each bringing with them a unique set of skills and ideas to further the mission of the charity.

We want to thank everyone who applied for this class – we were truly overwhelmed by the number of applications (over 175!) and we had a very difficult selection process. The quality and talent of the application pool for this was incredible.

Without further ado, let’s meet our new Ambassador class!

The Ambassador Class of 2023

An image of 25 people's portraits on a SIOW pink/red background, with their names. Title reads 'Class of 2023' in bold white letters. There is a banner at the bottom with text 'sponsored by Techraptor'

Abram Buehner (He/Him) – Part-time student, full time dork, and Production Director for Lost In Cult

Adam Clewes-Boyne (He/Him) – A talented games programmer and designer, as well as co-founder of BetaJester Ltd

Alex Gate (He/Him) – Community Manager at Dovetail Games, with a degree in Video Game Digital Art

AndyMacster (He/Him/Any) – Queer, neurodivergent dancer turned streamer, focused on openness, information and community

Anni Valkama (She/They) – Marketing Coordinator at Super Rare Games, Events coordinator, accessibility hero and supporter of SIOW since launch

Ayiza (He/Him) – Lead Community Manager at Jagex for Old School Runescape, hiking enthusiast and DIY star

Bardintheyard (He/Him) – Charity variety streamer, member of Twitch team Sidequest, voice actor and host of Smooth Souls

BlushingCrafter (She/Her) – Content Creator and mental health/accessibility/LGBTQIA+ advocate living in Norway

Cherish Goldstraw (She/Her) – Lifelong games lover with a weakness for the cute, cosy and the colourful, working in marketing at Sumo Digital

Christopher Leech (He/Him) – A person with Albinism and legally blind/visually impaired from Liverpool, working as a PhD researcher in psychology

Connor Cloughley (He/Him) – Lifelong gamer, streamer under the name AyeforScotland, and freelance Marketing and Community Manager

Derbyy (She/Her) – Community Manager for the VR gaming world, passionate mental health advocate and inclusivity focused streamer

Emmalition (She/Her) – Gaming YouTuber focusing on laidback content and an inclusive community

Ghosti – System content creator advocating to end the stigma surrounding DID/OSDD (Other Specified Dissociative Disorder)

Harry Stainer (He/Him) – Marketing and community lead at Peregrine Coast Press and student welfare expert

Jerreau Henry (He/Him) – Content Creator and Community Manager for UK Based EDI advocacy group Bame In Games (BiG)

JJ Fox (They/Them) – Indie game developer combatting the stigma surrounding autism and mental health through their game projects

LuceLoveLace (She/They) – Variety Twitch streamer, founder of ‘More Vibes Please’ and a pansexual/ADHD creator

Mark Flynn (He/Him) – PR & Community Manager at Numskull Games following several years on YouTube as a creator

Pastelbat (They/Them) – Mental health focused content creator who works in the games industry

Philadoxical (He/Him) – Variety gaming creator driven by positivity, safe spaces and inclusivity

Silvia Gaetano (She/Her) – Comms expert with a decade of experience in social media, community and player support

Tom Morgan (He/Him) – Business Development expert working with some of the brands his younger self would have been extremely jealous of

TragicOnTwitch (She/Her) – Twitch & YouTube Partner, Capcom creator and retro/variety streamer with experience as a peer support specialist in addiction

Whinnaay (She/Her) – Bisexual Chinese-Canadian gaming content creator making inclusive spaces for visible minorities and LGBTQIA+ folks

 

To view our graduated Ambassadors, click here!

Skills utilised:
News

December: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This month, we’re looking at Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “SAD”. Sometimes this is referred to as “winter depression”, but SAD can affect people during any season – they may experience depression during the summer months and feel better during winter, although the disorder is more commonly experienced during winter.

The symptoms of SAD are very similar to the symptoms of depression (you can read a comprehensive list here), however these symptoms come and go with changes in season. It can take a long time to diagnose SAD, as may go through multiple instances of treatment for depression before a pattern is realised.

Many people are familiar with the term Seasonal Affective Disorder but don’t fully understand it, for example they may think of it as just “winter blues” or “feeling a bit low,” when in reality SAD can impact a person’s life just as seriously as other forms of depression.

You can listen to a podcast or read the transcript about a person’s experience with SAD here, on the Mind UK website.

You may need to seek help for SAD if it begins to affect your day-to-day life and ability to cope. You can read more about treatment options and how to get help here.

What will you see from Safe In Our World this month?

Throughout December we will be highlighting information, insights and experiences of Seasonal Affective Disorder, such as:

  • Article: “How Skyrim’s open world helped me through my Seasonal Affective Disorder”
  • Article: “Ease your winter woes with a virtual wellness walk”
  • Panel: “Let’s talk about SAD”

We’ll also be spotlighting relevant games throughout the month and continuing the conversation on our Discord, social media and website.

Skills utilised:
News

How Video Games Connect Chronically Ill People At Home

How do games connect chronically ill people?

Due to the isolation of COVID-19, especially during the early stages of the pandemic, playing video games became much more than just a pastime.

Research by Ofcom found that 62% of UK adults played some form of video game in 2020 and further studies suggested that video games for many individuals helped them cope with such an unprecedented life experience. 

As national lockdowns were imposed, people found solace in their video game experiences, as gamers used the medium to continue to share and keep in touch with friends, family, and the outside world whilst playing together. 

The impact of COVID-19 on our everyday lives is something we can now all relate to. However, as restrictions were relaxed, shops opened, and a sense of normalcy was on the horizon, not everyone was able to rejoice. For chronically ill people, online connectivity continues to be a way to help manage pain, boredom, anxiety, and sadness. 

 

FINDING A COMMUNITY  

The internet gives us virtually unlimited access to each other. Whilst online social networks have become a valuable source of information and camaraderie for like-minded people who are chronically ill, video games have provided well-meaning new experiences and escape.  

During a chronic illness flare up, people may be confined to their bed, with little energy, in a lot of pain, and with an unpleasant level of brain fog. Gaming provides people with something to do that’s less passive than watching TV or listening to music and creates a sense of achievement and doing something meaningful with your time.  

The ‘perfect’ game to play whilst restricted due to a chronic illness will be different for everyone. Whereas some may look for a cosy, cute game to snuggle up in bed with, others may prefer to jump in a co-op mission with their friends online. In every genre, a community of players exists. Whether that’s speaking through a headset to finish a quest, sharing Animal Crossing patterns, or talking about strategies on online forums, video games are continuing to create a much-needed space for people to connect with each other.  

 

EXPLORING OTHER WORLDS 

Video games help decrease social isolation, and for many people gives them a peer group where they can simply be themselves. Whether you play video games and connect with others via Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, or PC, we have a list of games to reach out with. 

 

ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS

NINTENDO SWITCH 

Animal Crossing has been linked to promoting positive psychological wellbeing with its everyday island life, filled with colourful characters, and whimsical environments. Play as often and for as long as you like, curate your own focus of your session, and build your own routine.  

You won’t need to work your brain into overdrive to complete the cute quests and chat with your villagers. Although keep your wits about you if Redd visits! If you’re feeling particularly anxious and need a low energy interaction, then AC: NH is also the perfect antidote by allowing your friends to visit and roam your island, with communication being sufficient through adorable emotes and gestures.  

 

UNPACKING

PLAYSTATION, XBOX, NINTENDO SWITCH & PC 

Unpacking is a zen puzzle game about the familiar experience of pulling possessions out of boxes and fitting them into a new home. Its soft pixel art style is nostalgic, calm, and provides a warm fuzzy feeling for players as they progress through the game. You’ll begin the scenarios placing belongings around your childhood bedroom before moving into a college dorm, and beyond.  

You won’t need to grab your microphone for your time with Unpacking, but it will provide a safe space amongst its familiar surroundings to feel grounded and connected to yourself. Unpacking is also proud to be an accessible game. 

 

DESTINY 2

PLAYSTATION, XBOX & PC 

The Destiny universe is as diverse as it is vast. Players are invited to play alone or with friends across exciting adventures with rare and powerful rewards.  

Grab your headset and jump in, Guardians. As well as co-operatively completing raids, Destiny also offers a ‘Social’ game mode whereby players can enter non-combat areas to interact with other players.  

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as the truth is, all games have spaces where gamers can positively engage and communicate with each other.  

As gamers, we love to talk about it and those places on Reddit, Twitter, Discord, etc are created for us to share our passion, and for those who can’t as easily pop to the shops, or for a coffee, they become very important and a source of connectivity around a mutual interest. 

 

FURTHER ONLINE SUPPORT 

If you are living with a chronic illness and want to feel safe, heard, and understood, consider specialist support: 

  • CISFA UK provide both online and in-person support for adults and teenagers throughout the UK. 
  • Grant A Smile offer practical home support to families with chronic health problems. 

 

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Safe In Our World Announces 3rd Annual Charity Bundle for 2023

We’re delighted to announce our annual charity games bundle will be launching on February 23rd 2023, and we already have a fantastic list of partners who are supporting it.

We will be once again be partnering with the lovely team at Fanatical, who’ve hosted our previous bundles as well!

Previous bundles: First Anniversary Bundle | 2nd Charity Bundle

We’ve got support already from:

505 Games

Black Razor Records

Bunkovsky Games

Curve Games

Hello Games

Irregular Corporation

it’s happening

Kepler Interactive

Mediatonic

nDreams

Outright Games

Playstack

Playtonic

PQube

Raw Fury

Secret Mode

Slitherine

Tate Multimedia

Torn Banner

Thunder Lotus Games

Wales Interactive

and Yogscast Games!

 

We’re thrilled to be hosting another bundle in 2023.

All funds raised will support Safe In Our World in our future initiatives, and continue to provide free support to the global games industry through consultation, training and resources.

We’ve already assigned over £140,000 worth of free training to our industry, and believe it’s important to make mental health training accessible to all. With over 150+ partners having enrolled in our Level Up Programme, we’re continuing to grow our outreach to change this industry on a global scale.

If you’d like to support mental health in the games industry as a bundle Partner, you can get in touch with us at this email or at our contact form.

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Staff Picks: November Games

This month we wanted to embrace talking about the individual connection that players have to the games that they play, and why. So, we’re sharing our staff picks of the games we’ve been diving into this November, and the reasons why.

Benn

Sky: Children of the Light (2019)

It is the most soothing and positive game I engage with because I love sharing about it and asking others to play it too. It’s not a game about winning, even though there are challenges and a big boss level type challenge within the game. The focus is really on finding friends within the game and teaming up with them to do challenges or just explore the world of the game, which is visually lovely and imaginative.

The gesture of holding hands when you team up together is the greatest gesture in a game I have seen, and having a sound call out that other players can hear and see as a way to find others literally calling for help as sometimes you need other players to complete a task with you.

I also play a lot of Roblox with my daughter. Theres so much sociality within it, and a million options of games that provide a safe space for my daughter and I to play together and she can have her own friends join in playing too.

Then there’s League of Legends. I only play it because as a former athlete I do have a fierce competitive side that never totally goes away, and I have been on the brink of reaching Diamond level for my rank (which gives you Legend status and access) for so long I have to get over that mountain. Only then might I move on to a more soothing game.

Benn Wiebe


Sky

Penko Park (2020)

screenshot from penko park with camera and creature in the background in a forest

As a huge fan of Pokémon Snap, I was so excited to be recommended Penko Park, a cute-but-creepy take on the photography game.

Your adorable and tiny companion, Penki, joins you through each stage as you explore an abandoned wildlife park, uncovering its secrets and getting to know the monsters who reside there. I loved exploring the diverse areas of this game and couldn’t get enough of the unique art style.

The balance of scary and silly is perfect, making it an ideal game to chill out with. The sound design was also great, not blasting you with music constantly, which made for a relaxing and thoughtful experience.

Sky Tunley-Stainton


Rosie

Vampire Survivors (2021)

I’ve been diving head first into Vampire Survivors, a gothic horror casual game with time-survival and minimal effort.

This game gives me the same feeling of when I first played Binding of Isaac. It’s that excitement of knowing that there is still so much to discover and explore within the options of gameplay, and even getting that strange hit of serotonin seeing character traits evolve and align.

Lately I’ve been playing whilst sitting in a Discord call with friends chatting away. We joke about it being a “brain-empty” game, but it’s genuinely something that feels so soothing to me if I need to occupy my thoughts with mindless monster-slaying.

Rosie Taylor


Jake

Raft (2018)

Raft is one I’ve played a lot this month with my partner and son, it is a really relaxing game you can take at your own pace while listening to the ocean crashing against the raft. It is a game that really pushes escapism in a great way, it’s both relaxing and engaging while also being a bit challenging in parts.

Jake Smith

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Finding a Kneesy Mode

Earlier this year a physiotherapist told me that the way I stood on my feet was incorrect.

I’d been doing it wrong for almost thirty years. Not just wrong, actually, but harmful to my ankles, knees, and back. My legs hung off the examination table in the physio’s office, and she moved my feet into different positions as if adjusting a mannequin.

Eventually she stood me up, and told me to imagine a grape was under each foot, in the centre. The aim was to stand in a way that wouldn’t squash these grapes. I almost lost my balance, but eventually I stood in a precarious position that maintained the safety of these imaginary plump, red grapes (I imagined them plump and red).  

“That’s it,” she said. “That’s how you’ll need to stand from now on. Even with insoles in your shoes, remember the grapes.”  

I didn’t expect to be relearning the instinctive technique of standing still. The appointment, after three months on a waiting list after a doctor’s referral, was for chronic knee pain 

My aching knees have been an issue for a few years, but until last January I chalked it down to getting old (ridiculous because I was still in my twenties). As 2022 rolled in, however, it became a pain I could neither ignore nor remedy with ibuprofen and paracetamol. No matter how many knee-supports from Boots I tried, the dull ache sharpened and I couldn’t bear it. I made the hard decision to stop running, which was a blow. Running was my anxiety coping strategy. And yet, my knees continued to keep me awake at night.

The chronic and persistent fluctuation between sharp burn and dull ache sometimes brought me to tears, and eventually I quit my job behind the till at a petrol station. I needed to pay the rent, but I opted for financial worry over nine hours a day of physical agony without rest or possibility of a seat. Come to think of it, six months at that job must have aggravated my knees a great deal. Jobless and distressed, I called the doctor.   

In the time between the doctor’s referral and the physio’s appointment, I was on a cocktail of codeine, naproxen, and various anti-inflammatory gels that more burned skin than relieved sleep-stealing joint pain. It was a grim period. All I could do was lie around, regretting not doing something about this sooner. Things started going to shit elsewhere in my life, too, and it all got too much. It turns out chronic physical pain isn’t particularly good for chronic mental pain. My Sertraline dose quadrupled.  

When the aforementioned physio appointment came, and I learned that it was all due to my flat feet – much-needed hope appeared. I’ve known about my flat feet for about thirteen years, but I thought buying shoes with arch support would be enough to, well, support me. It turns out my feet are exceedingly flat, and I’d need to start making a conscious effort to mimic an arch by standing and walking in a certain way.

If I continued in the old archless fashion, the pain would only worsen, and carrying on with the codeine wasn’t something I fancied. So I’ve had to relearn to stand, walk, and maybe someday run – with help of that mental image of a plump, red grape.  

I feel like it’s going to be a lifelong thing; even with my new way of standing and bespoke arch supports, the pain still keeps me awake some nights. Especially if I’ve spent a big part of the day on my feet. I’ve made various lifestyle changes – cut back on booze and sugar (bad for inflammation), and rekindled my love for swimming (a knee friendly exercise). But there’s still a long way to go.

The pain often flares up when I’m doing something I enjoy, like reading, gaming, or writing. This is even tougher than the times it keeps me awake in bed, because enduring pain and focusing on a task is a multitasking that I’m not built for. If the task isn’t a necessity, and can I choose to lie back, close my eyes, and sit with the pain until it goes, then that’s what I’ll do.   

And yet, I still hang onto that hope I had in the physio’s office. A gaming pun is apt for this charity, so I apologise in advance for the cringe. I feel like I’ve been putting my knees through the extreme difficulty setting my entire life, when, actually, there has been an easy mode available – a Kneesy Mode.

This difficulty requires manually altering the settings of the game, to make the experience better suited to a player with bad knees. It involves swimming, not running. It involves knee friendly leg exercises to build up the muscle around the knees, with the aim of taking the load off the knees themselves. It involves mindfulness techniques, so the player can sit with the pain instead of suffering with it.

Kneesy Mode also involves grabbing hope and optimism whenever you see them, and maintaining a sense of humour that involves bad, bad puns.  


Ben’s Muckrack

Ben is a freelance writer based in North Wales. He believes games are one of the most important and undervalued art forms, and aims to share their value to as many people as possible.

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Can VR assist in pain management?

We’ve caught wind of a VR game designed to help with pain management, and couldn’t help but look further into it.

The School of Art & Design at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture have designed a game called Finding Home, featuring a dog companion. The game was designed to build rapport between the player and dog companion, developing patient resilience and coping skills.

It drives an interaction and connection to the dog, and helps externalise pain rather than internalise it just within the patient. By evoking this connection, players may feel a pull to keep returning to the game as it learns, which has been likened to Nintendogs, or Tamagotchi.

Image from UNSW Website

According to the UNSW website, the game is currently in prototype that is being tested in the Acute Pain Service at St Vincents Hospital in Sydney. If the trials yield positive results, it has the potential to be rolled out commercially across other hospitals.

The game may act as a supplement to pain medication, to reduce the reliance on medication alone and allow for a more proactive option to manage pain from the patient.

“Sometimes, you just feel stressed and uncomfortable, and the only thing you can do is take an opiate, which is not always the right thing to do. A/Prof. McGhee and I have worked on technologies to give them an alternative.”

Development & Design Considerations

The development process has also included previous research around how various audio-visual stimuli can help assist in pain management, and has been integral in informing the game’s design, according to Dr Christine Shiner, Senior Researcher.

It’s not just about the game mechanics however, but also the aesthetic design as well. The colours chosen for the experience have been deliberate in an attempt to promote positivity and healing, and as such, avoids harsh reds and loud colours.

The blue and purple colours oppose the red-hot feeling (and colours associated) of pain in a deliberate move to psychologically place players in a ‘cooler’ environment. The cartoon style was chosen to minimise a feeling of threat within the game, and promote a familiarity in-game.

The headset itself was made with limited mobility in mind, allowing bed-bound players with restricted movement to be able to pick up this game and play.

With initial research showing some promising results from the trial, perhaps VR could be inbuilt into a future of supplemental technological support for people who suffer chronic pain alongside existing treatment.


This has also come as an interesting development following our previous analysis of how Shadow’s Edge helped children with chronic diseases.

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November: Chronic Illness

It’s a new month, and our theme is looking at the effects that chronic illness and chronic pain can have on our mental health.

A chronic or long-term illness means having to adjust to the demands of the illness and the therapy used to treat the condition. Being chronically ill comes with further stress, due to the fact it may change the way you live, see yourself and relate to others.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with other chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of depression, and people with depression are at higher risk for other medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and Alheimer’s disease.

Having a long-term condition that affects you physically can lead to feelings of loneliness, fatigue and pressure from any stigma, especially for more “invisible” conditions. So, what resources are available to those who are chronically ill, and need support?

Getting support

For many long term conditions, there will be organisations offering information and local resources specific to you and your condition. For example, Macmillan Cancer offer support systems and online communities to those going through a similar experience.

Your GP or community centre may also have links to local support networks to you that you are able to access.

Online communities including our Discord server offer peer support for those looking to connect with other people, and a place to talk about mental health (please note we are not professionals, and can only signpost, but instead offer a stigma-free space to chat to other like-minded gamers.)

If you need support in relation to your mental health you can access our list of crisis helplines.

 

WHAT WILL YOU SEE FROM SAFE IN OUR WORLD THIS MONTH?

We have a lot planned including our monthly panel with special guests, streams, game highlights, articles and more. Let’s take a look:

November 3rd 7pm GMT – Streaming Child of Light with Ubisoft on our Twitch Channel.

November 11th 2pm GMT – ‘Insights from people with lived experience of chronic illness’ on our Twitch Channel.

An article on how VR games can be used to manage pain

We’ll be looking at how games can connect chronically ill people at home, as well as personal experiences of mental health and chronic illness.

A handful of games spotlights on games portraying chronic illness

Plus ongoing conversations in our Discord, on our social media and website.

Stay tuned for our brand new content, support and conversations around this month’s topic, and stay safe everyone

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£50,000 More Free Mental Health Training for the Games Industry

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a new series of mental health training courses that we are offering for free to individuals in the games industry and wider community. The £50,000 worth of bespoke training, created and delivered by our partners at Mind Fitness, is open to anyone but has been developed with marginalised and under-represented individuals in mind. This brings our total training investment for the industry to an amazing £140,000.

With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, we are committed to fostering worldwide mental health awareness within the video game industry. Individuals are welcome and encouraged to sign up for as many of our free mental health training courses as they want to, and can do so over at TicketSource now. Our training is delivered online and is available to anyone, globally.

The series of courses offers:

  • keynote lectures focusing on the history of mental health discrimination and systemic inequalities;
  • awareness courses to provide information and coping strategies to support wellbeing;
  • and in-depth mental health first aid courses.

A full breakdown of each event can be seen below. Participants are welcome to attend all three events, or can pick whichever they feel is right for them.

Keynote lecture: Mental health in the games industry. 1st December 2022. 2pm - 4pm GMT / 9am - 11am EST / 6am - 8am PST.

Keynote Lecture: Mental health in the games industry

2 hours (online) with live Q&A

  • Understanding the history of mental health discrimination
  • An overview of the key themes in the global mental health agenda
  • An insight into the data confirming systemic inequalities in mental health incidence and
  • treatment for marginalised groups
  • An awareness of the global movement to challenge stigma and discrimination
  • Insights into how our communication skills can support the mental health agenda

Mental health awareness for the games industry. Running daily from 9th to 13th January 2023. 2pm - 6pm GMT / 9am - 1pm EST / 6am - 10am PST.

Mental Health Awareness for the Games Industry

4 hours (online)

  • A basic knowledge about mental health
  • The most common mental health conditions: spotting the signs
  • Understanding the systemic impacts on mental health for marginalised groups
  • Developing coping strategies to support wellbeing
  • Key focus on developing interpersonal skills
  • Gaining confidence to support others
  • Knowing how to challenge the stigma and discrimination around mental health
  • Understanding the biggest mental health myths and knowing the evidence

Mental Health First Aid for the Games Industry. 23rd Jan, 26th Jan, 30th Jan, 2nd Feb, online via Zoom. All sessions are 2pm - 5pm GMT / 9am - 12pm EST / 6am - 9am PST.

Mental Health First Aid for the Games Industry (4-Part Course)

4 x 3-hour sessions delivered over 2 weeks (online)

  • Tailored individual learning in between each session
  • Aims of the Mind Fitness Mental Health First Aid qualification
  • Understanding mental health, stigma and discrimination
  • Key legislation, policy and the World Health Authority perspective
  • Recognising primary mental health issues
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Substance misuse disorders
  • Learning the RESPOND approach to providing non-judgemental support
  • Applying the RESPOND framework
  • Establishing healthy boundaries, roles and responsibilities
  • Understanding safeguarding and best practice guidelines
  • Understanding diversity and best practice guidelines
  • Conflict management skills
  • Recognising different personality types and communication styles
  • Knowing what to do in a mental health emergency
  • Understanding wellbeing
  • Learning practical skills to take care of one’s own mental health
  • Managing stress effectively
  • Feeling confident about referring people to the appropriate professional
  • Mental health support resources

“From social and economic inequalities to racism and prejudice, there are so many barriers that make accessing mental health treatment all that more difficult for marginalised individuals,” explains Sarah Sorrell, Charity Manager. “We wanted to be able to offer a suite of training programmes that not only welcomed but actively included under-represented members of the games industry.”

Book now via TicketSource

 

 

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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement Committee (DASEC)

We are looking for members for our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement Committee (DASEC) at Safe In Our World.

Safe In Our World (SIOW) is searching for six individuals who share a passion for the areas of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement to join its newly formed Committee.

These are voluntary, unpaid roles which we expect will take up to 4 hours per month commitment (including an online meeting once every 2 months) and are in post for a year. Lay members may stand for up to three consecutive posts.

The application process is now open until November 30th 2022, with applicant responses due on the 15th December 2022.

The first meeting of the committee will occur in January of 2023.


Read the Job Description in full here.


APPLY HERE


5 illustrated characters stand/sit/jump on a blue background, with illustrated stars, planets and gaming related items surrounding them

What do we expect from applicants?

Lay Member Responsibilities:

  • Review the policies, strategy, and activities of SIOW
  • Seek to apply best practice to the work of SIOW
  • Assist SIOW in developing practices for consistently and positively addressing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Assist SIOW in ensuring accountability, and compliance with relevant legal requirements across Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility and Stakeholder Engagement

Skills and Experience:

  • A commitment to Safe In Our World
  • A passion for mental health and any of the areas the Committee will focus on
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort
  • Strategic vision
  • Good, independent judgement
  • Ability to think creatively
  • A willingness to speak their mind
  • An ability to work effectively as a member of a team
Safe In Our World acknowledge the importance of giving back to DASEC members. All members will be provided with: 
  • A profile on our staff page
  • Priority recipients of internal news and upcoming initiatives
  • Opportunities to feature within website articles on safeinourworld.org
  • Opportunities to represent the charity in content alongside gaming companies, developers and other creators
  • Opportunities to gain insight into and shape the charities operations, policy and strategy
  • Exclusive invites to charity events

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