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Games industry unites to offer thousands of free games to NHS workers

Ukie has teamed up with influencer marketing solution, Keymailer, and developers and publishers from around the world to offer free games to NHS workers.

The Games For Carers initiative allows NHS workers access to a game or game subscription as a thank you for all the work they are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is that the games can provide some much needed escapism and stress relief for workers and their families. Amongst the many developers and publishers on board with the initiative are Bethesda, Sega, Curve Digital, Jagex, Konami, THQ Nordic and Xbox Game Studios. 

Dr Jo Twist, Ukie CEO and Safe In Our World Patron, said of the initiative:

“The UK games industry has been proud to play its part in conveying these vital public health messages during this national emergency. Now our community has united again to say thank you to the truly extraordinary people who make up the NHS frontline team. Games companies of all sizes and players everywhere recognise their exceptional dedication and hope this initiative goes some way to help them understand how respected and valued they are.” 

If you work for the NHS and want to claim a free game, you can find out more here.

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

Gaming In Isolation: Community Top Picks

Is isolation boredom hitting you hard? Miss hanging out with friends, family and partners? We understand how challenging isolation can be for mental health. So we asked our community to share their top picks of games that you can get stuck into alone or with others online…

Animal Crossing: New Horizons 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets you pack up your troubles and relocate to the paradise island of your dreams.

What’s the appeal?

1Animal Crossing is the perfect getaway package for the mind, allowing you to create and explore in a low-stress environment. Animal Crossing features user-friendly systems that help you set small daily goals.

2 – You can abide by social distancing rules and still have that much-needed social interaction with online and local play. Recently, people have reportedly celebrated birthdays, weddings, and more in-game!

3 Animal Crossing: New Horizons is another title that features on our list of related games and apps and has provided solace for thousands of players during the outbreak.

The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian is an action-adventure game which follows the journey of an isolated young boy who befriends a winged mythical creature named Trico.

What’s the appeal?

1 – There’s no dialogue in The Last Guardian – you form a strong bond with Trico that is non-verbal and based on emotional exchanges.

2 – The pacing is perfectly suited to anyone who wants to invest time in one particular story experience.

3 – Stunning meditative soundtrack and soothing atmosphere.

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal is an extended version of the popular social-simulation RPG, Persona 5, which follows the enigmatic Phantom Thieves on their quest to right society’s wrongs. 

What’s the appeal?

1- You play as the silent protagonist, whose choices and personality depend on you and how you choose to spend your time – providing over 70 hours of narrative content.

2 – Relatable characters, including a strong portrayal of severe depression and social anxiety.

3 – Persona 5 is already on our list of recommended apps and games, so an extended visit to the world of the Phantom Thieves is a must!

The Last Of Us

In The Last Of Us, players take on the role of a survivor named Joel as he makes his way across post-apocalyptic America following the Cordyceps outbreak.

What’s the appeal?

1 – The Last of Us is a thrilling adventure that keeps you on your toes and requires a level of focus that will draw you away from the real-world.

2 – Perfect for fans of a strong, cinematic narrative (think Uncharted, but with zombies!).

3 – The Last of Us has a stunning soundtrack that doesn’t miss a beat. 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

Toss a coin to your Witcher! Become Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher who hunts monsters for money. Most of the time.

What’s the appeal?

1- The Witcher 3’s world is vast and beautiful. While living in a confined space, the world of the Witcher opens the doors wide to a land of plenty. 

2 – Incredible depth of narrative design that spans far beyond the main quest. From side-quests that can last anything from a few minutes to a few hours and discoveries that are steeped in lore, you have many fantastic hours ahead of you.

3 –  Fancy a casual ride on horseback? You can spend hours simply riding across the realm and soaking up some rays in stunning vistas.

No Man’s Sky 

No Man’s Sky gives you the freedom to explore 18 Quintillion procedurally generated planets! Discover vast ecosystems and learn how to adapt and survive as ‘the traveller’.

What’s the appeal?

1 – No Man’s Sky gives you the choice of playing on your own or with others, it also lets you freely take on the role you enjoy the most. Be it farming, space piracy, base building, exploration, and much more. 

2 – No Man’s Sky has so much to see and do and a great addition to the title was its VR feature. If you have a VR headset the game provides total absorption in stunning, alien worlds. 

3 – Transitioning from planet to planet enables the player to feel a sense of immediate escapism.

Stardew Valley 

Stardew Valley lets players run their own farm in the small town of ‘Stardew Valley’. You can attend events, make friends with townsfolk, maintain relationships, and take part in a whole bunch of time-consuming activities. 

What’s the appeal?

1 – Stardew Valley is a more structured version of the ideas presented in Animal Crossing. It features an ongoing narrative, neighbourly intrigue, and days are more like ‘turns’ rather than real-time days.

2 – As a simulation RPG with social elements, there are In-game seasonal events and activities to take part in that provide a feeling of community spirit.

3 –  Chucklefish recently released an online mode so you can do all of the above with your friends and watch minutes turn into hours together. 

Crash Team Racing

Beenox Productions made Crash Team Racing their own with this thrilling Kart Racer that’s fun for all the family. Players get to choose from over 50+ characters, 40 tracks, and 760 million different combinations!

What’s the appeal?

1 – With so much to unlock, Crash Team Racing is a highly rewarding experience and provides a challenge for those wanting to push themselves. 

2 – It’s hard not to smile as you’re engulfed by the colourful, fun, and peppy atmosphere!

3 – You can play in single-player, online multiplayer or local multiplayer, which provides a social link to people that you are isolated with or online.

Minecraft

Minecraft is a game in which people can express their true creativity with blocks. Whether you want a survival experience, a creative experience, or even an educational one – the possibilities are endless. 

What’s the appeal?

1 – Minecraft has worked its way into many people’s lives as an educational tool for those who may have kids off school and gives people a creative outlet. It also provides a social outlet to those who want an online experience with friends. 

2 – Minecraft is a time-consuming game if you want it to be, with so much to do you’ll soon wonder why it’s time for bed when you thought you’d only just popped on after lunch. 

3 – The community is huge and very engaging, there are also servers out there for people with mental health issues and other illnesses to express themselves and be safe while they play.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 

The Division 2 takes place in Washington D.C. in a time where a terrorist threat has taken over most of the city and spread a virus that threatens the World. Team up with friends to take back the city or go it alone and be the character you want to be. 

What’s the appeal?

1 – The wide-open spaces in The Division 2 have helped members of the community with feelings of claustrophobia.

2 – Explore a diverse cityscape that feels lived-in and full of activities.

3 – The game encourages you to play with friends during some of the most intense missions or raids in the game. This is a great aid in helping to cover social needs.

You can also check out our list of Mental Health Related Games & Apps.

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Covid 19 Hub Launched

Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, is real and it’s something every single person is worried about. We’re worried about our own health and how coronavirus could affect our loved ones and our future. In these unprecedented times, we all have to do everything we can do support each other. So we’ve created a new information hub to offer practical advice on how to cope with staying at home, in addition to pooling the relevant government updates for the gaming industry.

Everyone at Safe In Our World; the team, members and partners are here to support you and ensure everyone experiencing mental health problems can find the help they need, whilst also ensuring the industry challenges itself to react in the best way possible for its teams and players. A great example of this was the recent #playaparttogether campaign from the World Health Organisation.

Visit our hub now, or if you are in crisis and need support, find help now via our contact page. Our charity partner ReThink have also launched a hub of additional information – which includes details of the changes to the UK Mental Health Act.

 

 

Skills utilised:
News

Managing Stress

We can’t hide from it, right now is a very stressful time. It’s ok to feel this way, to feel anxiety about the future. So tips to help, is to first, make sure you follow your local government guidance. Stick to the facts that they provide, and avoid sensationalised headlines and media coverage. The best source of information is direct from the CDC and from WHO, in addition to your government briefings. 

Try these simple techniques if you start to feel overwhelmed: 

  • Deep breathing. This means taking a long, slow breath in and very slowly breathing out. If you do this a few times and concentrate fully on breathing, you may find it quite relaxing. Some people find that moving from chest breathing to tummy (abdominal) breathing can be helpful. Sitting quietly, try putting one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy. You should aim to breathe quietly by moving your tummy, with your chest moving very little. This encourages the diaphragm to work efficiently and may help you avoid over-breathing. 
  • Muscular tensing and stretching. Try twisting your neck around each way as far as it is comfortable and then relax. Try fully tensing your shoulder and back muscles for several seconds and then relax completely. 

For more guidance, you can visit – https://www.verywellmind.com/abdominal-breathing-2584115 

If that didn’t work for you, you can try the alternate method, you’ll find that a quick search online will generate many different methods and finding the right one for you is important. Here is one from the NHS UK. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/ 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation is a must during this time, why not set yourself 30 minute sessions 2 to 3 times a day to practice the techniques. This will help them become more effective over time and help during this stressful period.  

  • Find a cool and quiet room where you’ll not get disturbed 
  • Lie down or sit comfortably with your legs uncrossed 
  • Put on a comfortable item of clothing and take shoes off 
  • Gently close your eyes or focus on something in front of you 
  • Clear you through, and focus on breathing 

Taking slow and controlled breaths will help feel calmer when anxious or stressed, breathing to quickly and deeply might make it worse.  To control breathing follow the steps below: 

  • Place on hand on your chest and other hand over your stomach, you want your stomach to move more than your chest as you breath. 
  • If you can take slow regular breaths through your nose, or mouth. Watch your hands as you breath in, the hand on your stomach should move and your chest shouldn’t 
  • Breath out slowly through pursed lips 
  • Repeat this 10 times twice a day 

If you need a to focus your mind, this tip might help you. Create in your mind an ideal spot to relax for example, somewhere you love to be, a holiday destination, a place you would want to be to relax. Imagine it in as much detail you can, audibly, visually and feel. Once you have envisioned the place of comfort close your eyes and take a slow, regular breath in through your nose, out through your mouth and be aware of your breathing. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes.  

Quick muscle relaxation. 

This exercise will teach you to recognise and reduce muscle tension, you can relieve tension in any part of your body by tensing and relaxing each muscle.  

  • Find a comfortable chair to sit in and follow these steps. 
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, breath in through nose, out through mouth.  
  • Make a fist and squeeze your hand tightly 
  • Hold this for a few seconds noticing the tension 
  • Slowly open your fingers and feel the difference, notice the tension leaving. Your hand will now feel a lot more relaxed and lighter, enjoy this feeling.  

If you have any physical injuries or conditions that cause muscle pain, it isn’t recommended to do these exercises in those areas.  

Once you have mastered the technique that works most for you, you can use them whenever you feel the need too. To do this you can use a cue, something that’ll catch your eye and remind you too drop your shoulders, check your breathing and relax muscles in your body. An example of a cue could be a small recognisable object on yourself, or possibly a room in your home that can act as a reminder.  

After relaxation, don’t get up to fast, sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes to avoid the possibility of feeling dizzy, open your eyes and make sure you feel okay before standing up.  

Source: https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/preventing-falls/fear-and-anxiety-about-falling/relaxation-techniques 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Be active!

Of course, we know games can really help ‘switch off’, but sometimes putting down the controller (or mouse!) and getting up are great for your mind and body too! Try to give yourself a set period of time each day (and at least move/ get up for a stretch every hour!) 

Music: If you have the means to play music, play it! The wonderful folks at MIND have a great blog on why music is great for your mental health, following research that found music releases dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ chemical in your brain!  Read more here. 

Gaming: Ok, of course, we’re going to recommend gaming! Pick something you love and that you can get lost into for an hour! 

Online: The internet can provide a lot of entertainment from streaming services, social media to keep in touch with others, research and more. It is important to stay connected during this lockdown period and many services are offering to talk when you feel the need to and it’s definitely good to keep in touch with friends.  

Exercise: There are many great apps and online sessions that can help you get moving, but it doesn’t have to cost you money. The NHS in the UK have a wide range of tips, or if you have a garden, or can safely go for a walk while keeping social distancing, simply put on your  

Mobility: If you have physical conditions or mobility issues, the NHS has a great range of routines to support you staying active? 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Routines

Routines are part of our everyday lives but unfortunately the recent COVID-19 our usual routines have been interrupted. We feel that it is important to try and keep some routine in your life for your mental wellbeing and to keep you busy through this time. If you live with others perhaps you can schedule an exercise session one hour per day at a specific time, have a family movie night once or twice a week or play some board games. If you live alone perhaps set up a social session on a video game or a chat program to speak with friends or other people in the same boat.  

In this Guardian article, three people who have had to live in isolation most of their professional life have listed tips on keeping safe and well through-out the uncertain time. 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Working from home

Some employees have been able to work from home instead of going to a workplace. Whilst this is great for keeping job security and ensuring many businesses can continue, it is important to plan how you will work within your home to avoid stress and to keep a clear line between your work time, and your rest. 

UPDATE TO UK RESIDENTS

As of Monday the 28th of September 2020 in the UK the government has since changed their stance on returning to work. It is now required to work from home where at all possible to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Rule Of Six is also in place, which limits you from meeting more than 6 people. Additionally, if you are not self-isolating when told to do so you can face a fine of up to £10,000.

Our top tips: 

If you’re part of a team, you’ll likely take to great apps such as skype, teams and others. But try to set some ground rules. In the office, it’s easy to shout out and start a group conversation that you’ll all take part in but bombarding each other with conversations can be overwhelming. So instead have agreed times to talk as a group and save topics or questions for each other until then. 

Find your space Don’t work from your sofa or bed, it’s important to try and draw up some boundaries and clear areas where you’re in ‘work mode’ and when you’re in ‘offline mode’. If you can, find a different room to where you would normally relax. Without these boundaries, you’ll work more hours than you should, and it’s vitally important to keep a good work/life balance. 

Clock in and out: Try to keep to your regular working times – have a clear time to start, and a clear time to finish. Of course, if you have children or loved ones to care for, your employers should offer flexibility to allow the time during the day you need. But it’s important not to let your workday stretch into the evenings, or times you’d normally not be working. 

Remember to eat: Eating healthy is important for all parts of your body, including your brain. It’s very easy to plug into the matrix, and not unplug until the end of the day. Keeping up with regular healthy meals is very important. Plan your day, what will you eat for breakfast, lunch and then dinner. Of course, right now, the normal diet you may follow might not be possible, and many of us are having to be creative with ingredients. So where possible, at least try to mix up meals. Foods such as vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy products and even maritime, can be a great source of vitamins and minerals. Learn more via the NHS. 

Take breaks: Work can make you skip meals, which isn’t great. But also, you should be unplugging and taking regular breaks throughout the day. In fact, it’s commonly agreed that 5 minutes away from a PC screen every hour can be of great benefit, but also that lunch hour, fully away from work can do wonders for your stress levels. 

Get Outside: Where possible, take your break outside!  Spending time in nature – even if it’s your own back garden, or if social distancing rules allow, take your break as part of your daily work out. The sun and fresh air can do your mental health wonders! 

Actually work: Netflix, consoles, TV… it can be very tempting to fall into bad habits. Try to stick to the above, have clear breaks, a clear end to your day and a clear place to work from. Distractions are everywhere, but taking those distractions away will make you more productive, helping you to stick to work schedules, and meaning you’ll work set hours but achieve as much as you need to. 

Be honest: If you are struggling, not feeling well or under pressure – talk to your employers. They have a duty of care to support you. 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

What your Government is doing for you

Across the world, governments are putting in place support during the coronavirus. We’ve placed links to the direct source should you need clear guidance. Of course in addition to this, the guidance if very clear:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

 

United Kingdom

 

Pay 

 

How to Protect Yourself and Others 

 

Businesses and Other Organisations 

 

Healthcare Workers and Carers 

 

Travel 

 

How Coronavirus is Affecting Public Services  

 

How You Can Help  

 

The United States of America

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Isolation and coping

Coronavirus, AKA COVID-19: It’s everywhere, right?

There is enough news about coronavirus – it’s here and it’s happening. Make sure you’re informed, but also that you only read information from trusted sources. Don’t place trust in tweets, Facebook posts or sensationalised headlines. The truth is there is still much governments don’t know. For now, we have to take the daily updates and facts as they come in, direct from the briefings or .gov websites.

Currently (as of March 18th), in the UK the advice is as follows (Source):

if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. See ending isolation section for more information

if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill

Across the world, in addition to self-isolation, many schools and businesses are choosing to close. This means more people will be at home, and it may very well be that additional government advice is given for a wider population to enact preventative self-isolation.

This could cause anxiety for some people. But what are the best steps to take? How should we all act and what can we do to help each other through the coming weeks and months? In this week’s blog, we look at what could happen and offer our tips for the best ways to handle the situation.

Ok – I’m trapped!

 

Right. It might be your choice; you might have been told to self-isolate, or where you’d normally be right now has closed and locked the door. Regardless of why, it’s likely that at some point in the coming days, weeks or month you’re going to have to spend some time ‘locked down’. Remember, no matter your situation, there is help out there right now – if you need to talk to someone, please visit our contact page to find details and numbers!

Of course, for some, the thought of staying at home and being able to do what they want sounds like a holiday! But for others this could sound difficult, a for sure, self-isolation can be tough. Preparing yourself for sustenance and physical survival is one thing but there are no guidelines to prepare your mental wellbeing. Now of course, we’re gaming experts – we’ve taken characters through unimaginable quests and adventures. We can handle this right…? For some yep, you’ve got this, but for others maybe not. Those controller skills don’t always transfer to the real world, so it’s really important you prepare and think about the days ahead.

There is no preparation for other human being’s reactions, actions or interactions. If you do feel panicked, It’s going to be Ok!

NHS advice says (Source):

Try and keep two metres (three steps) away from other people – especially older people or those with long-term health conditions

Make sure any room you are in is well-ventilated.

  • Ask friends and family and delivery services to deliver food and medicine – but avoid contact with them
  • Sleep alone if possible
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds on a regular basis
  • Don’t have visitors and ask people to leave deliveries outside
  • Don’t leave the house, even just for a walk
  • Use separate facilities where possible. If sharing, these should be cleaned before use by others
  • Use separate household items like towels, bedding, toothbrushes, cups and dishes
  • Try to keep away from your pets. If you can’t avoid it, wash your hands before and after contact

But what else should you think about?

  • If you have medication and are worried about supply, you should contact your doctor or pharmacy.
  • If you have a cold or a cough or a headache – don’t panic. Under these circumstances, symptoms are exaggerated, and you may start to worry. It is still the season for colds and coughs. Drink plenty of water and rest.
  • Prepare to obey the rules, and in fact, add some extra rules that suit you. Structure can be a great thing in these situations.
  • If you order takeaways, ask if they will deliver via non-contact methods.

My living room is my office!?

 

  • If you are working from home, set up a special area for work, it helps create a boundary for yourself.
  • If you need to work, work controlled hours. Don’t overdo it. It is about pacing yourself.
  • Save the sofa for fun or sleeping.
  • Talk to your workplace and colleagues often –  make sure they know how you are, how you’re feeling and what you need.
  • Create little routines, take your workplace practises home. What time would you stretch your legs, make a coffee etc

I Am BORED!

 

  • If you are missing out on school… have fun!!! Seriously, read a book, try to do some work. Or just have fun!
  • Try to relax and not overthink what’s going on outside.
  • Play those games that have been accumulating in the pile of shame. (we all have them right!)
  • If you are with people, in an enclosed space, play board games with them.
  • Listen to music or the radio.
  • Try some exercise. It really helps clear the mind and in fact might lead to a new you when this is over.

 

Talk, talk TALK!

 

  • Discord, Skype, facetime, Snap, Insta, Whatsapp. WeChat – what a time to have great technology. Whether you’re home alone, in the office, away from friends and family – stay connected and talk regularly.
  • Community spirit and helping others is a great help to your Mental Wellbeing.
  • Spending time on your well-being is also super important.
  • Do things that bring you joy.
  • Use the opportunity to reset.

Support your team!

 

There is a lot of great advice available about working from home, such as ACAS who recommend the below.

It’s good practice for employers to:

  • keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
  • make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • consider extra precautions for staff who might be more vulnerable, for example if someone is pregnant, aged 70 or over, or has a long-term health condition
  • make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace shows symptoms of the virus
  • make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
  • provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
  • consider if any travel or meetings are necessary and if meetings can be held remotely instead
  • keep up to date with the latest government coronavirus advice on GOV.UK

Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – ‘social distancing’. This includes:

  • working from home where possible
  • avoiding busy commuting times on public transport
  • avoiding gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home

Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. This might include:

  • agreeing to more flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting times
  • allowing staff to work from home wherever possible
  • cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to remote calling where possible, for example using video or conference calling technology
  • Whatever happens in the coming weeks, you’re not alone. If you feel you need to talk, if it’s getting too much, visit our contact page for the local details.

 

As above, if you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s vital you do something about it. Reach out to a friend, talk to your work or a teacher,  or use our contact page for confidential helplines.

Keep washing your hands and be safe.

 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

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