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Borderline Personality Disorder and ADHD with Charlotte Rouget Murphy (Safe Space Podcast Season 1 Episode 13)

In this episode of Safe Space Rosie chats to Char; Distribution Manager at Bossa Studios, as well as an Ambassador for Special Effect and Safe In Our World.

Char opens up about what it’s like to work in the games industry with BPD/EUPD and ADHD, and how they intertwine with her wellbeing. She talks about her fantastic work supporting charity through streams, including recently Gameblast, and previously for Safe In Our World.

We discuss our all-time favourite titles, our relationships with games and mental health, and how employers can better support those with mental health conditions. Char highlights the importance of becoming an active campaigner for mental health and representation.


Links

Char’s Twitter

Special Effect

Bossa Studios

Skills utilised:
News

Pause: Daily Mindfulness

Pause: Daily Mindfulness is a free self-help app that provides many mindfulness techniques that are best suited to the user.

Pause teaches techniques such as:

  • Finger Tai Chi helps you rest and recharge with mindful finger movements.
  • Mindful Walking, use walking to help with your mental health.
  • Breath will teach the user some breathing techniques using “belly breathing”.
  • Flow Timer, a mindful timer for meditation and work
  • Sleep, drift off to sleep with a mindful tapping exercise.
  • Lets Go discover your inner freedom
  • Resonance lets you play with singing bowls and create sand mandalas.

We believe this app can be really helpful to aid those who may need to learn mindfulness or practice mindfulness to relax and destress, the app is easy to download, simple to use and provides a very unique design to help aid the relaxation with its excellent sound, music and look.

Skills utilised:
Games & apps

Bump Galaxy: The Minecraft Server For Self Healing

We spoke to Bianca Carague, Social Designer & Researcher and creator of Bump Galaxy, a Minecraft Server built to support your mental health through the power of virtual spaces. 

What was the inspiration behind Bump Galaxy, and why did you decide on Minecraft as the medium to deliver it in? 

When I first started playing Minecraft, I was struck by the exploitative mechanisms behind most video games. I feel differently about it now, but at the time, it wasn’t intuitive for me to chop trees and turn cows into beef. When I first spawned in a forest in Minecraft, all ll I wanted to do was pet the fox before me. I was shocked to find that all I could do was kill it. I think that the way we’re taught to play has a lot to do with how we interact with one another in the physical world. I wondered if I could create my own alternate reality within Minecraft’s neoliberal worldmaking system that actually aligned with my values.

Bump Galaxy really just started out as an experiment. I use to practice Reiki (energy healing, for those that aren’t familiar) and tried doing sessions in a smaller Minecraft server called Portal’s Temple. I didn’t have a physical space to do it and lots of healers do it via distance anyway so I thought doing Reiki in a floating temple in the sky overlooking a lake and forest might be a more intimate way to do virtual care.

At some point before the COVID-19 pandemic, I connected with several different care practitioners (counselors, drama therapists, haptotherapists, etc.) who expressed the need to migrate their practices online. They were actively seeking ways to virtualize their practice but didn’t know how. I invited a few of them to visit the server and we grew it into what’s now Bump Galaxy that could accommodate more people and other forms of care. It was really more a matter of small, incremental insights rather than one big burst of inspiration.

I built Bump Galaxy on Minecraft simply because it’s the game that sparked my interest in game mechanics. In hindsight though, I’m glad that I built it there because it was really the quickest, cheapest and most accessible way to prototype and validate different game world therapies.


Would you tell us a little about the different areas within Bump Galaxy and their purposes?

Bump Galaxy has several shared landscapes designed for different types of care, from a meditation forest to an underwater temple designed for hypnotic visualizations. I call them Care Commons. New ones are created all the time, as I meet new people online who would like to collaborate and share their unique experiences in personal development, but I’ll mention a few:

The Meditation Forest is for breathing exercises and meditations that help with relaxation. Here, players can plant a tree, meditate until it grows and leave a message next to it for someone else to read. As people do this, the forest grows into a living, growing monument of the community’s collective wellbeing.

The Sand Dune Dreamscape is, as the name suggests, sand dunes where players can access guided meditations that help them reflect on their dreams and how they can use these insights to grow in their waking lives. It’s about helping people make sense of their dreams for themselves and build their intuitive muscles.

The Snowfield of (Self) Love is a place where players can reflect on and discuss love and relationships.

The Underwater Temple is about diving deep into oneself in order to heal. It’s also about visualizing joyful moments in times of despair.

In these Care Commons, players can engage independently, with friends or with mental health professionals for more formal therapy sessions. They can build on the landscape using resources they get from engaging in the world so that as the community grows, so does the landscape.


You’ve mentioned the use of live events within the server – tell us a bit more about how they work and what they consist of! 

We’ve had events such as a live virtual sound bath and guided meditation in our Symbiotic Jungle called ‘Mycelium to Dry Your Tears’. In an event like this, we would have a DJ or sound artist on the decks, high above a river. Floating just on the water is a meditation floor where the participants gather for the guided meditation. The meditation is about reflecting on our relationships beyond ourselves — with our environment and each other — on ecological solidarity. The meditation is then followed by some journaling, building on the landscape and overall good times.


Do you think this sort of idea could be replicated across other games? 

Definitely. The way I see it, there are so many tools and platforms that already exist. It’s just a matter of exploring new ways of using them.


We’re passionate about games that can do good, especially within the realms of mental health. How have you used real-life applications from mental health support services to embed within the game, and how important do you think that the elements of the game are in portraying to people who may not have had this type of experience before? 

In Bump Galaxy, we have a floating island that we use specifically for Drama Therapy. There, we’ve had workshops wherein a drama therapist would guide participants through using roleplay and improv as a means for social support. It’s difficult to organize these kinds of activities when people can’t go out, but we can do it in a game, even with people from other parts of the world. This type of social support is not only fun and interactive but surprisingly enlightening. It’s especially great for participants that wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable trying it in person.

As for other Care Commons, the inspiration for the mechanics come from activities that I or visitors of Bump Galaxy have found helpful in real life. We turn these physical experiences and techniques into rituals that can be done in the game. In a virtual world, players are cognitively predisposed to (make) believe, much like when watching a play. The beauty of game world therapy is that it’s more engaging than other forms of virtual care.


Bump Galaxy Instagram

Bump Galaxy Website

Bump Galaxy Twitch

Skills utilised:
News

Mindfulness and Gaming: Unlikely but Wonderful Companions by Ben Huxley

Mindfulness isn’t synonymous with meditation; with sitting on a cushion with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath, or chanting a mantra. They are good ways to practice, but mindfulness as a whole is more than that.

It is a means of living all aspects of your life with more clarity and awareness. According to the NHS website, mindfulness means “knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.” This awareness can transform our relationship with our daily activities quite profoundly; from washing the dishes, to the long commute to work, to the time we spend playing video games.

The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness – our lives set to autopilot, going through the motions (or lack thereof) while we worry about tomorrow or ruminate on yesterday’s embarrassing conversation. In this state, we give little attention to what is in front of us. The following scenario may sound familiar: you arrive home, head swimming with worries and regrets. You decide to play a game, and sit down with the aim of having a distracting, fun, challenging, or satisfying time. Yet none of those words describe your experience. Perhaps you keep losing, over and over again, in the same way, as your teeth grit. Or maybe you find yourself on a long and boring side quest, becoming restless and bored at the lack of stimulation. There’s even a chance that you’ll finish gaming, get into bed, and have very little memory of what just occurred.

The blank in your memory can be explained quite easily. It’s because you weren’t really there; you were in your head the entire time, captured by thought. It happens in other activities too. How often do you read a page (or three) of a book, before realising that you haven’t actually been reading at all? Or put on a song, hoping to be soothed by the lyrics, rhythm, and melody – only to realise the song has finished and you weren’t listening? This isn’t to shame my fellow daydreamers (if it’s any consolation, I’m sure I read somewhere that it’s a sign of intelligence), but to let you know that with mindfulness we can avoid being hijacked against our will, and only have a good long think when we want to – on our terms.

It’s hard to express this without sounding hackneyed, but for many of us gaming is more than a hobby. It’s time with our favourite characters, in our favourite worlds, with stories, music, and art that touch the heart. It’s also friendship, community, escape, distraction, challenge, and fulfilment. Are there any better reasons to be more present and mindful as we game?

There are, in fact, some games that encourage us to be mindful. 2018’s Celeste is one such game. Celeste actively encourages us to fail in order to learn. It differs from the norm, where dying feels like punishment. In a meta sort of way, the game encourages us to take deep breaths and visualise a feather floating on our exhalations when the pressure gets too much. This is because the protagonist – Madeline – suffers from panic attacks, and a side character teaches her this technique to deal with them. It encourages us to stop, think, and evaluate the situation, rather than diving in for the hundredth time to do exactly the same thing. Celeste is a tricky game, too, so playing mindlessly isn’t an option. The gameplay is simple; run, jump, dash, climb – but timing and precision are everything.

We shouldn’t reserve our presence of mind for tricky games like Celeste, however. If we want to truly appreciate the game in front of us – be it a battle royale or a visual novel – we should always aim to be present. When we’re on autopilot, we’ll find ourselves making the same mistakes again and again. We also find ourselves missing out on the potential beauty in front of us.

Much like missing a song or skipping the pages of a book, it’s easy to zone out during a particularly easy, or “boring”, part of a game. Perhaps you’re grinding in an RPG, hacking away at unchallenging monsters as a means to an end – telling yourself you’ll enjoy this game as soon as you’ve reached level fifty. Or maybe you’re partaking in a side quest in which you have to walk for an hour to, say, deliver a package to the next town. You grow impatient waiting for the fun to return, and eventually zone out and return to autopilot. The game doesn’t require your full attention, anyway.

In zoning out, however – be that daydreaming or having one eye on social media – we’re arguably missing the best parts of the game. Isn’t the whole point of an RPG to increase and develop the stats of your character? If you find yourself grinding in a laborious and repetitive manner, ask yourself if there’s a more interesting way to do this. Are there tougher enemies that, realistically, you could face? Or are you focusing solely on strength, when there may be a more interesting stat to work on? When we stop and think, better options become available – the easy choice is rarely the most fulfilling.

There is a lot to be said for “boring side quests”, too. Hideo Kojima’s mind-bending Death Stranding has been branded a “walking simulator” by players and critics alike. The protagonist is a deliveryman in a post-apocalyptic America, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s little action and an abundance of travel – but this isn’t a bad thing. Walking or driving from A to B in Death Stranding can be an exhilarating experience if we remain focused, aware, and appreciative. The developers have done a fantastic job of creating such a world, and with this in mind as we play, so much more beauty and awe is revealed to us. I noticed that a lot of the game’s scenery reminded me of the Snowdonia mountains in North Wales, where I often walked in my youth. I know that this nostalgic revelation wouldn’t have come to me if I hadn’t been fully immersed in the game.

Boredom is an emotion that we have to catch first, however, before we realise it’s colouring our experience. The same can be said of stress and frustration. There will be times in which we have these emotions before we boot up a game, and our session is negatively affected. Mindfulness can help with this, too. If we realise that we’re bored or restless before we start a long and eventless walk in a game, we can note and acknowledge this – we can ask ourselves if the game is truly boring, or are we projecting our boredom? The same can be said of stress and frustration. Is it really such a straining game, or was there already a build-up of pressure in your chest?

When we train ourselves to be mindful, it flows into every aspect of our lives. Not only does it bring clarity to experiencing games, but also to our reading habits, appreciating music, commuting to work, washing the dishes, conversing with loved ones, managing your money, studying, exercising. When we’re more mindful – when we’re out of our heads and experiencing the present as fully as possible – we find beauty and joy in the most unexpected of places. It can be a challenging enterprise, but there are few things more worthwhile.


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.

 

Skills utilised:
News

How Abzû Practises Mindfulness by Alex Dewing

Mindfulness: the practise of being present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and emotions without distraction or judgement.

It’s a technique that’s rooted 2,500 years into the past, yet presently we’re living through a time where many would rather detach from the present and escape to a different world. It makes sense, the world is big and scary enough without the uncertainty of a pandemic. But games can offer us a safe in-between during times like these and can show us how to reframe our mindsets and just…breathe. 

Research has suggested that playing video games can benefit our mental health. A study by the Oxford Internet Institute saw that how long we spend playing games is a smaller factor than the kinds of games we play and the experiences we have during them. The games industry, particularly those from indie publishers, has in recent years pushed the boundaries of these experiences, exploring heavier stories and themes. Look at games like That Dragon, Cancer or Florence: these games offer us new ways of working through our experiences of anxiety, depression, loss, etc. Giant Squid Studio’s Abzû does things a little bit differently. 

It’s a wordless game, with no clear narrative. Instead, Abzû simply asks you to step into the shoes (or flippers) of a nameless diver as she explores a beautiful, expansive ocean. While it is incredibly soothing, a game perfect for decompressing and honing in on anxiety, the experience of Abzû is uniquely mindful. Through its game mechanics, visuals, and score, it is a game that silently teaches you the power of mindfulness and how you can practise it in everyday life. 

Our world can be quite overwhelming: with school, work, family, relationships, and friendships, we’re often left with an endless rush of thoughts and feelings that are hard to get a grip on. Abzû’s world can be quite overwhelming too. The ocean is teeming with life: schools of fish swim circles around you, seaweed floats up to block your path, and every surface is ablaze with colour. As video game players, we’re often trained to want to explore every inch of a map, scared to miss out on anything important (or that longed-for trophy). But Abzû asks us to take a different approach, guiding us to recognise the beauty and danger of this underwater world without letting it distract us.

This is mindfulness at work. The practise isn’t about suppressing our emotions or ignoring our thoughts, it’s about acknowledging them without judgement and without letting them engulf us. The best divers learn quickly that interacting with ocean life is better when it is passive, not active and Abzu’s diver promotes this. Together we watch the world go by but never let it divert us from the path we’re on. It’s structure is reminiscent of noting, a mindfulness technique where you note (or label) thoughts and feelings as ‘thought’ or ‘feeling’. This serves to break the moment of thinking or feeling without undermining them, instead giving us the space to step back with newfound objectivity and peace.

The diver witnesses as much ugliness in the game as she does beauty and yet treats both with the same amount of curiosity and calmness. It’s this inquisitiveness to fully explore the world, that truly makes her an embodiment of mindfulness, a goal we can work towards. She understands that one of the ways we can fully experience life around us is to embrace the positives as openly as the negatives.

By reframing introspection through the ways Abzû reframes exploration, we have the ability to be aware of the present moment more deeply and with an open-mind. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s gotten lost in the idea that ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this’ or ‘I’m not allowed to think that’. But by letting curiosity lead us, we can reach mindfulness, instead just acknowledging and validating those experiences, recognising they’re taking place without being drowned by them.

To solidify this idea, Abzû’s creators include meditation as a collectible mechanic within the game. Throughout the underwater spaces are ‘Meditation Spots’ that ask you to stop, sit, and breathe. As you do so you have the ability to watch the wildlife around you: no interaction, just quiet observation. In doing so, we once again get the idea that this game isn’t about the endpoint but about the journey getting there, much like the philosophy of mindfulness. 

This game came to me at a time when I was really lonely: first year of University, living completely alone, knowing absolutely nobody. I played a lot of games instead, including, you guessed it, Abzû. It took me no time at all to fall in love with the game. It’s sweeping oceanic soundtrack lulled me in and the visuals were breathtaking. As soon as it asked me to just stop and meditate, I realised how reflective a journey this story wanted to take me on. And I let it. For me, Abzû helped me reframe my loneliness and my experience at university in a way that I still rely on today. 

By sweeping this practice, this philosophy, into a single two hour game, the creators make it clear that mindfulness is just as accessible and worthwhile as reaching the credits. Because mindfulness can sound daunting. It brings to mind an idea of perfect harmony with oneself and the world, but that isn’t the case. As much as Abzû’s diver embodies a mind-set that we can all work towards, she is an expert in her field, we are not. And there’s nothing wrong in that.  Leaning into our present moments can be hard, getting swept up in thoughts and feelings can be easy. But Abzû continually reminds us that it’s about the journey we take, that we can take it at whatever pace we want, and ultimately it’s a dive worth taking.


 Alex’s Portfolio
Alex is an entertainment writer and (wannabe) community manager. An avid gamer, cartoon fanatic, and lover of pop culture, she is dedicated to diversity on-and-behind the screen and is the host and producer of video game podcast The Lag.

You can find them on Twitter at @alex_dewing

Skills utilised:
News

Interview with Krish Shrikumar, creator of PLAYNE: The Meditation Game

We talked to PLAYNE: The Meditation Game creator, Krish Shrikumar, about the inspiration behind the game, the mental challenges in making it, and why a game provides the perfect platform for mastering meditation…

So what was it that set you on the path towards game development? 

I think it started after I played Quake. I spent a lot of time fiddling with it and creating levels. I mapped my home in the Quake engine, and it freaked out my mom seeing our home in the game with floors made of lava. Then came Half-Life, and that came with even more native tools for mapping.

At the end of school, I heard about SourceForge and got the bright idea of making an open-world, narrative-driven, first-person game using an open-source game engine called Ogre3D. I got a team together in SourceForge, wrote a game design document with loads of awesome, complicated features, but thankfully it didn’t take too long to realise how impossible it was. Although the project didn’t work out, I did meet some incredibly talented folk, some who I still collaborate with today. After this, I stuck to just playing games.

I went onto film school, did a bunch of 3D ArchViz projects and ran a web business with my brother. I was trying a lot of different things and it was a stressful period in my life. There was a severe lack of self-care that left a mark. Five years ago, I reconnected with meditation. It had been a significant part of my life as a kid, with my dad being a meditation/yoga teacher.

As I reconnected with meditation, it somehow pointed me back towards games, and I had the idea for Playne. So, I installed Unreal Engine and started to learn game development to create Playne.

Tell us about the main objectives of Playne and how the game is structured. 

Playne as a game helps players learn and build a habit of meditation & mindfulness so players can better understand and better relate with themselves.

Every day that the player returns to Playne and meditates, the game world grows and transforms. There are guided meditations, breathing exercises and other techniques that I’ve learnt and practised over the years that have helped me to understand myself better. I wanted to create a game that would teach these techniques, that could be taken away by the player and used in their daily lives.

Why did you think meditation would be an effective central theme to a game?

I spent a shameful amount of time playing Guild Wars, so I know games are great at building habits. I also spent a lot of time learning to fly a Learjet from Edinburgh to London using FSX. I realise the power that games have in helping us build habits and how they can help us learn without necessarily studying. Bringing this together, Playne is an attempt at creating a game that helps players learn and build a habit of meditation.

What was the inspiration behind the visuals in Playne?

Around the time I was reading Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, in which Robert Louis Stevenson talks in length about camping outdoors. His writing is very visual, and there was a warmth about how he described those night times, smoking a cigarette out in the wilderness. That contrast of the orange of the fire and the dark blue of the night was what inspired the night scene in Playne. I’m also from Scotland, so all those trips into the wilderness played a part in it as well.

There is a place called Trossachs up in Scotland that is meaningful to me. It was one of the first places  where I experienced the enjoyment of nature. I also ended up shooting my first film, Home, up in the Trossachs and the experience was incredibly meaningful to me.

The fox was inspired by my dog Meg. She’s always around and she’s always keeping me amused, so I wanted something like that for the players as well.

I wasn’t always so appreciative of nature though. I’m a city boy, so nature was a bit too `wild`. I remember going on holidays up Scotland as a kid and I would take my PlayStation with me. I couldn’t bear the thought of being up in Orkney without video games. Later, I slowly started to open up to nature. My wife would always encourage me to go out into it more, and I’m thankful for it.

What mental challenges did you have to tackle whilst developing the game?

Working solo is great because you can go where you want to go, it’s freeing. But it can get a bit tedious at times when there aren’t people to share the celebrations and failures with. I’m finding that the more I work alone, the more I need to make sure that I have a healthy approach to my work.

Building a consistent habit of working alone for 6/8 hours a day takes a lot of work. Keeping the head level, moving on from failures, swimming out of the deep waters calmly and quickly. I get excited very easily as well, so it takes a bit of work to keep things going evenly. Most of the creative projects I’ve taken on in the past have ended up with me overworking and getting burnt out. I’m still learning how to have a healthier approach to my work and what helps are small habits that I try to be consistent with.

I consistently try to meditate, exercise, eat healthy, step into nature and spend time with people who bring joy to my life. I’ve also built strategies around failure as much as I can. It’s crazy how fast I forget good advice, so I’ve got these little cards with strategies to deal with difficulties (thanks Ryan Holiday for introducing me to index cards). Like remembering that life is happening right here and not there. It reminds me to take it slow and experience life as much as I can.

Having said all this, there are days when I go all out and eat a whole pack of doughnuts, without even sharing.

Did making the game have any positive effects on your own mental health? 

It’s fulfilling to give someone an experience that you imagine. It’s like you are transferring a bit of yourself to someone else, and it makes you feel more connected.

There are of course times of stress, especially when sales are slow and you get a bit worried about how long you’ll be able to keep creating and pay the bills. I suppose it’s also a bit like building a sandcastle. It’s fun as long as I remember that I’m at the beach, playing, and not thinking that it’s more than what it is.

Do you plan on developing more mental health-related video games down the line?

That’s the plan! Creating Playne has been so fulfilling, and the community around Playne has been inspiring to be a part of.

Right now I’m developing Playne VR, and then I’m going onto a mobile game that I hope will make the mechanics of Playne more readily available.

What are your overall hopes around Playne when it comes to player experience? 

The hope is to make meditation a bit more approachable and show players the wisdom that helps them to not get lost in suffering.

We end up lost in the dark because we don’t know enough about ourselves, both as individuals and as an animal/organism. My hope is that meditation imparts enough wisdom that in time, the players can shine intelligence and wisdom onto the ground and see their path for themselves.

Playne is designed to be transitory. It should help players learn something that they can take away with them for the rest of their lives. When I hear players on Discord who have stopped playing Playne but have continued meditation, that’s the hope.

Meditation takes discipline! Do you have any tips for those playing the game for the first time? 

Playne makes building a habit of meditation easier. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself time to learn about discipline.

It’s important to find out what works for you. It’s important to know that if we can’t stick to a habit, it’s not because we are weak. It’s just that we don’t know enough about discipline and habits.

Habits are about getting good at deciding to do something. I think the ability to learn is what’s common between those of us who are not great at building habits and those who are. I think as we get less shameful about failing, the better we get at learning to be more disciplined.

A few quick tips:

  • Aim to meditate twice a day.
  • Set a time and aim to do it at that time every day. If you like taking small steps, then try just 10 minutes a day and build it up.
  • If you like jumping in the deep end, they try sitting for an hour and see what happens.
  • Try to slot a bit of time where you meditate out of session by giving 5 minutes in the middle of the day just to watch your breath.

PLAYNE: The Meditation Game is available now via Steam.

Skills utilised:
News

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is a procedurally generated Universe with over 18 Quintillion planets to explore – build bases, take on missions, hang out with friends or go it solo, No Man’s Sky has it all. 

No Man’s Sky is perfect for taking a break from the struggles of reality as it features a universe worth of content, regular updates, and has a strong community behind it.

The No Man’s Sky universe is a feast for players that love to explore – with so many planet variants, you’ll discover the most amazing and bizarre places you’ve ever seen. From strange fauna and flora to scan and register, locations with stories to uncover, and interesting NPC’s – exploration is a joy. You can also name everything you discover and it will get stored in the database. Planet Safe in our World, anyone?

For those who want a more action-orientated experience, you can take to space in your ships and hunt down pirates, help freighters in trouble or even become a pirate yourself. For Sci-fi fans, players can now explore derelict freighters with friends and investigate what happened to the crew. 

Features:

  • Explore an infinite universe that is always evolving
  • Single-player and multiplayer
  • A huge amount of interesting lore
  • Unique graphics and design
  • A universe worth of content and regular updates

Skills utilised:
Games & apps

Turn Work Into Play: Safe in Our World Collaborates with Family Video Game Database

Safe in Our World have collaborated with Family Video Game Database to curate a list of games focused on the stresses of working within the gaming industry and how you can wind down.

Family Video Game Database is created by a small enthusiastic team of parents and carers. The database allows the user to filter by PEGI or ESRB rating, duration, genre, theme, platforms, number of players or even those that don’t have in-app purchases.

It also promotes inclusive games, by having built-in accessibility filters to allow for gamers who may have difficulties in using controls, reading or hearing.

The games in this list offer space to reflect and escape work for a while. But not only to get some distance, but to play something that shines a light on why we do what we do. Some address the world of work directly, while others enable us to consider our choices about how we spend our working hours.

Whether it’s escaping for a lunchtime walk with A Short Hike. Trying to manage crunch time with Going Under, or not succumbing to Tom Nook’s invitation for ever bigger mortgages in Animal Crossing, there are lots of games that can help us find some balance.

Other games, like Coffee Talk and Neo Cab help us consider the people we serve at work. This might be conversations with customers, but also the other people we work with in the office or workplace we find ourselves in. Like the game Good Job encourages us to do.

Then there are games that make us aware of our co-workers. Whether it’s collaborating to identify and store stock in Wilmot’s Warehouse or getting the furniture into the van neatly in Moving Out, how we work together and treat the people around us is important. 

The Games:

 

A Short Hike | Going Under | Animal Crossing | Neo Cab | Coffee Talk | Mini Motorways | Mini Metro

Wilmots Warehouse | Good Job  | Moving Out | Kind WordsPatterned 

View the list on the Family Video Game Database and explore more games.

View a full list of the related games and apps that Safe in Our World suggest here.

Skills utilised:
News

Rime

Rime is an adventure-puzzle game which follows a boy exploring a mysterious island, guided by a fox-like spirit companion. After a storm destroys his and his father’s boat, the boy discovers his father didn’t make it. 

The game revolves around the boy’s journey climbing the island’s tower, with each area representing one of the five stages of grief; reaching the top of the tower represents acceptance.

The boy will encounter many different puzzles involving climbing, carrying objects, pushing and pulling and more. He can also sing and shout which can trigger events that are tied to nearby statues. The combination of the in-game interactions and the storyline makes this game a unique experience. 

Key Features

  • Explore a mysterious island full of puzzles 
  • Single-player
  • Captivating storyline
  • Unique graphics and design

Skills utilised:
Games & apps

Meadow

Heaven is a place called Meadow! Vast, teeming with life and now a unique social experience. Frolic freely and de-stress in the lush fields of Meadow – a unique multiplayer sandbox. Unlike traditional titles from the Shelter franchise, in Meadow the more time spent embracing the gameplay features in the world, the more you receive. Owning any previous Shelter related title(s) or products will also unlock in-game content. The open landscape also provides ample room for exploration with new patches and additions promised. Band together with other animals, form uneasy allies or choose to explore alone. Whatever you decide, the open park life is one you will want to immerse yourself in.

Features:

  • Play as any combination of animals on land, water or air in the largest expanse of land ever created for a Shelter game.
  • Communicate with other animals via specially created emotes, symbols and sounds.
  • Use senses to discover and track other players in world.
  • Visit the den to choose from up to 9 different animals, over 60 skins and over 90 expressions and symbols to unlock.
  • The more Shelter titles and products you own, the more bonuses you unlock.
  • New original music from Retro Family.

 

Skills utilised:
Games & apps

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

In this hyper-cute life simulator, you are the proud owner of a deserted island getaway package and are free to create, explore, and relax. 

During the time we’ve spent with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, we’ve shared fruit with our neighbours, been meticulously designing our wildest desires, and have happily lazed on a beach somewhere far removed from our daily lives. 

Animal Crossing is the perfect getaway package for the mind, allowing you to create and explore in a low-stress environment with user-friendly systems. Everything from the meditative sound design down to the soft, rounded aesthetic is entrancing. 

Animal Crossing teaches you to set yourself small daily goals and is at its most rewarding when played in short sessions. The game moves in real-time and you will have to wait until the following day to reap some of the rewards of your daily efforts. This means that you consistently have something to look forward to and you can plan your time how you want, while seeing positive progression. 

Feel like gathering materials in the morning? Great. Fancy visiting the island museum at lunch, which is full of critters and fossils you have collected on your travels? Fantastic. Want to wind down with a trip to the island of a friend? Perfect. Feel like doing nothing at all while watching the sway of the ocean? That’s OK!

Animal Crossing helps you realise that downtime for yourself is worthwhile, no matter what you choose to do with it. If you have checked one thing off your list today, then you have achieved something! 

Your enthusiasm in Animal Crossing: New Horizons will spill over into your real-world lives and your mind will thank you for it.

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Games & apps

How Video Games, Mindfulness and Meditation Saved my Life – by Rachael Fiddis

I think I’ve been anxious all my life. When I was a child, I didn’t know there was a word for how I was feeling until I was much older. I realised that other people felt the way I did too and that there was a name for it. 

Many things contributed to my anxiety. I remember the first memory of this strange and scary feeling when I was very young, maybe 3-4 years old, due to the countless hospital visits for operations I had to undertake for years. I remember the car journey there like it was yesterday. Feeling sick and wishing I could get out and run home, but I couldn’t – I was a child with very little control over my circumstances. 

Video games have always been a huge factor in my life. Throughout my hospital stays, I was always found with my nose glued to the screen of my Gameboy or a Nintendo Game & Watch. I didn’t fully understand it then as I do now, but gaming took me away from the stressful and frightening situation of a hospital ward with its clinical furniture, strange smells and scary nurses with their big needles. Being able to slip into another word and leave the unpleasantries of the real world behind helped me cope. Not only mentally, but through physical pain too after my operations. 

Growing up, I started to hide my anxiety well enough so that most  people wouldn’t notice. I had plenty of friends and I was social, but soon I fell in with the wrong crowd where drinking and taking drugs was a regular occurrence. This marked the beginning of my struggle with mental health. I watched the mask I so tightly held onto start to slip away. 

Being at school was a nightmare and my education began to suffer. Back in the 90s, mental health wasn’t talked about as much as it is now – certainly not in high school. When it was spoken about, it was done in whispers. How the lady down the street “wasn’t right in the head”, someone to be afraid of and to stay away from.

Through years of pushing my mental health to the side and running from my problems instead of facing them, I finally broke. From years of built up anxiety and depression that had never been dealt with, my mind eventually said “enough!” and I had a break-down. This was most certainly the scariest period I have ever faced. Panic attacks crept into every nook and cranny of my waking hours and sleep didn’t offer much respite. My days were filled with hopelessness, deep sorrow and fear – so much so, that taking my life felt like the only option.

This wasn’t the first time I had thought about suicide. I had attempted it twice before, obviously unsuccessfully. But through the long NHS waiting list for mental health help and my own personal choice of not wanting to take medication, I felt like there was little hope this time. Then, one morning, I received an email on a self-help group I signed up for ages ago. It discussed mindfulness and meditation and how this practice really helped those with anxiety and depression. I didn’t have anything to lose at this stage so I looked more into it. 

Over the course of a week I practiced mindfulness every morning, followed by guided meditation. To my surprise, the dark, heavy clouds of my mind started to become slightly lighter. They were very much still there but the notion of suicide began to fade and I finally began to see things a little clearer. Through the course of a month, my panic attacks weren’t as frequent and my mood began to lift. I even used my gaming; not as a means to escape my problems and push them to the side like I had previously, but as an aid to help me recover. Games were now a part of my therapy.

I’ve come a long way in the past couple of years. This has been through my gaming and mindfulness therapy, but also through the means of self-help and learning more about how​ the mind operates as a whole. I have found that the more you learn about a scary and unknown aspect of your life, the less terrifying it becomes. This of course won’t work for everyone. People need to do what’s best for them as everyone is different, but for me this method literally saved my life. I still have bad days and I’ve learned that that’s OK. I know now that tomorrow or even the next day will be better. I know that nurturing good mental health, as much as possible, is the only goal I need to concern myself with. 

Life is hard at times, but if I had to offer one piece of advice it would be to talk. Talk to friends, family, your doctor – whoever you feel will listen. Keeping those harmful feelings and destructive thoughts to yourself will only do more damage over time. You’ve nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, we are all just human with complex emotions. It’s OK not to be OK. Please reach out, you never need to suffer alone. ​

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