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Stonewall: Pride Month 2022 Highlight

As part of Pride Month 2022, we’re highlighting companies, charities and organisations doing great work within the LGBTQ+ space, and today’s highlight is Stonewall.

 

What is Stonewall?

Stonewall is an organisation that stands for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people everywhere. The work of the charity has helped bring the issue of LGBTQ rights to the mainstream political agenda, changing both attitudes and policy.

 

When did it start?

Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of people who had been active in the struggle against Section 28 of the Local Government Act. It was later granted charitable status in 2003.

 

What was Section 28?

Section 28 was an offensive piece of legislation designed to prevent so-called  “promotion” of homosexuality in schools; as well as stigmatising lesbian, gay and bi people, it galvanised the gay community.

What does ‘Stonewall’ mean?

The Stonewall Uprising began on June 28, 1969, when a gay club in New York City called The Stonewall Inn was raised by police leading to six days of violent clashes between the police and the gay community of Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Uprising served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the US and around the world.

 

What has Stonewall done?

Since 1989, Stonewall has been instrumental in LGBTQ+ rights movements:

  • An equal age of consent for gay and bi men
  • The end of Section 18 in Scotland, England and Wales
  • Same-sex couples being free to adopt children
  • LGBTQ+ people being free to serve openly in the armed forces
  • Protection from discrimination at work
  • The right for same-sex couples to have civil partnerships
  • The right for LGBTQ+ couples to be legally recognised as parents
  • The right for same-sex couples to get married
  • LGBTQ+ inclusive teaching in the national curriculum

Skills utilised:
News

Verifying Information and Limiting News Time

How to make sure you’re getting the truth without overburdening yourself with difficult or even false information.

Whether it’s the conflict in Ukraine, the continuing concerns about Covid-19 or the accumulative factors in the rising cost of living, it can important to keep yourself informed of the latest developments. However, with so much information, and the rise in misinformation, particularly online, if can be difficult to know what to believe. Such is the wealth of often contrasting or even contradictory reports, it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious as a result but there are a few steps you can take to help put your mind at ease.

Photo by Adrienne Surprenant/MYOP: Poland and Ukraine refugees. Courtesy of DEC

We may all have our preferred and trusted sources of news, whether that’s the BBC or our daily newspaper (and/or its website and social media feeds), but even those aren’t always a guarantee that the information you take away from a news story is entirely accurate – or at least a fair reflection of your own situation within the unfolding events. The likes of the British Red Cross have posted articles looking at the effects of news on vaccine hesitancy for Covid-19 and the same theories can be applied to other crisis scenarios.

Asking Questions

Of course, the likes of social media provide a platform for all voices to present themselves in your news feed, some of which are actively pursuing false, or at best controversial, narratives for personal or financial gain. To filter the good from the not-so-good, it can help you to process their intentions by keeping a number of simple questions in mind. One of the more obvious starting points is to consider the source of the article.

As mentioned, you may have your own trusted news outlets but you’ll find links to numerous other websites proclaiming to have the inside scoop on the latest developments. The first step is to evaluate the intentions or assumed neutrality of the source. Is it a nationally-recognised outlet with a clear history of quality news coverage? Does there seem to be a certain bias or agenda at play (both in the article and from the outlet as a whole)? The same questions can be applied to the author if a byline is given, while it’s also worth checking the date as old posts are often regurgitated as breaking ‘news’ simply to generate extra clicks.

You can also relate the same thinking to the people or experts quoted in the article. Are they a known and reliable source (such as those mentioned in our charities and crisis support articles)? For example, when it comes to Covid, a quote from some directly involved with the NHS or World Health Organisation may carry more authority than a general soundbite from a largely unknown or vaguely attributed source – such as someone just described as a doctor or ‘an expert’ rather than being given a specific job title or linked to a known organisation.

Many people claiming to be political experts or even doctors won’t have the same qualifications or experience as those they claim to know better than, so you might want to do a little research into those quoted. Were they working in related fields before this situation arose? Do they have a job title or a biography that supports their given field of expertise? Could they simply be seeking to raise their own personal profile by saying something outlandish? If you’re still not sure, you might want to check if their comments are reflected by more familiar expert figures or official organisations.

Photo by Polish Red Cross: ICRC teams deliver 16,200 litres of potable water to Olenovka village in Donbas on February 25. Courtesy of DEC.

Of course, online it’s even easier for such information to be faked, so just be on the lookout for newly-created accounts or bots that repeat the same kind of content. You should also be wary of those looking to mimic or replicate the appearance of official organisations such the NHS or Red Cross, by using similar logos, fonts or web addresses – even pretending to be connected to such an organisation, but if you hover your cursor over a weblink you’ll see it redirects you somewhere completely different.

In short, don’t be afraid to ask questions and to doubt even your most trusted sources. Mainstream outlets are not immune to misinformation, or may have a story that presents a certain narrative but the information inside it might include contrasting expert analysis. Be sure to draw your own conclusions from the full article, rather than making quick assumptions based on the headline or a soundbite shared on Facebook or Twitter. You can also use resources such as the BBC’s Reality Check or Full Fact to help point out the half-truths and false narratives.

Limiting Your Exposure

With so much information, and misinformation, out there it can feel overwhelming at times, so do allow yourself some breathing room by taking a break from it all. Even small steps such as disabling videos from auto-playing potentially distressing footage as you scroll down can help. While it’s good to be informed, there’s also such a thing as too much information, and taking some time out to let your brain absorb and process the latest events can be far more productive than endlessly scrolling through a blur of social media posts. Maybe there’s a game or three you can happily distract yourself with for a few hours!

If you can, talk to friends, family or someone you can trust to have an open conversation with. The chances are they’ll have been looking at the same stories as you have and share many of the same fears or questions, so being able to talk things through can help both of you to further understand some of the more complex issues. Ideally it should also give you a little more reassurance about what might be true and what might be rather more contentious – and maybe give you a few new leads on where to find the right/best information.

Photo by World Vision: Romanian firefighters helping Ukrainians on the border with Romania called Vama siret. Courtesy of DEC.

Despite those on social media loudly proclaiming the opposite, when it comes to staying on top of ongoing crisis events, accept that you can’t be an expert on everything. Instead, be happy that you’re able to stay well-informed with key information from trusted sources. There may well be several sides to any given story, and there’s merit in having at least an appreciation of all of them, but take care to check statements against facts, and that those making them have the creditability and authority to be trusted. Facebook shouldn’t always be taken at face value…

No-one can avoid being distracted by misinformation all the time, but by asking the right questions and being honest with yourself that the answers might not always suit what you want to hear, you should be able to analyse things with a greater confidence. Just don’t forget to give your mind a breather from time to time to let your brain process everything and allow yourself some stress-free ‘me’ time!

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

Lockdown Connections: How Gaming Has Brought Us Together In The Year of Being Apart

How the Video Games Industry united through Lockdown 

 

Nobody could have ever predicted how 2020 and 2021 would play outA pandemic hit the world that would change the lives of everyone in many waysSociety felt like it would never be the same again. 

It wasn’t all darkness, thoughA light shone through as the video games industry took up arms and made it their mission to bring people together, providing new ways of social interaction for gamers and people who have never touched a game in their life. From giveaways and games for carers, to free memberships, events and much more. 

Favourite characters such as Geralt from The Witcher series, developed by CD Projekt Red, spoke to The Gaming Bible and gave hope that things would get better: 

“Stay on the path,” Geralt’s gravelly voice advises me over Zoom. “Things are going to get better. I know they’re bad now, but they can only get better. So stay on the path – and kill those monsters.”   

Chris Baraniuk wrote an article for the BBC that showed games weren’t just a distractionbut how beneficial video games can be in people’s lives, especially during the pandemic: 

For many, games don’t just provide a way of connecting with quarantined friends, they are also alternate universes where the reality of pandemic can be momentarily forgotten.”   

The article also talks about the hit title, Animal Crossing, that launched just as most of the world were heading into the first lockdown. It was a ray of sunshine for many, providing a place for players to meet, explore and hang out in their own wonderfully crafted islandThe game delivered a much-needed escape in such challenging times.  

Then the government realised the opportunity of reaching people through games. They started getting involved with video game companies to put safety messaging about COVID-19 into popular games, such as Sniper Elite, Dirt, Candy Crush and more. In doing so, the plan also showed one of the many ways gaming could be used for good, leading Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, to express his delight in seeing  the UK’s brilliant video games industry stepping up to strongly reinforce this message to gamers across the UK.”  

Gaming for Carers was an initiative that saw many AAA and Indie companies coming together to give free games to those who are working on the front line. It was a way to show a big thank you to NHS staff for going above and beyond, with companies such as Codemasters, Konami and Team17 contributing their games to the cause.   

Another notable organisation helping people stay connected over the pandemic was CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). CALM teamed up with UKIE to offer advice on how to get connected and how gaming could help through the tough times ahead, whether gaming with friends, offline, or watching gaming content via Twitch, YouTube and more.  

England Cricketers used online gaming to pass the time on tour, support mental wellbeing and keep up team rapportCricketer Stuart Broad found it particularly transformative, saying: “Gaming, for me mentally, has been vital.” Talking about the gaming sessions the team have streamed online, his experience was very positive: “There’s no abuse. There’s no agenda [...] It’s all just really positive chat about gaming and good fun, which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s quite rare for social media, to be honest.” 

Some gamers had described Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV as a massive help throughout the pandemicNME’s Alan Wen wrote an article highlighting how the game has been a lifeline for many through these uncertain times: FFXIV has made me feel like I can be with people even when I’m in quarantine. The way the game’s social aspects encourage teaming up with strangers to turn them into friends, the roleplaying scene, and all the amazing people has been incredibly positive.” 

We also asked some of our SIOW representatives how video games have helped them during the pandemic.  

Antonela PounderDirector of Global Community @ 505 GamesSafe In Our World Ambassador:  

“Our ability to go wherever whenever has been taken away from all of us, which I’ve found brings about a feeling of loneliness, even if you don’t live alone. Forming new friendships with others through current friendships has been incredible. We basically now have our own online support bubble where we talk about anything and everything (but try to avoid COVID chat!). Calls almost every evening has helped hugely, whether this be on Discord or using PlayStation parties, as well as engaging in online multiplayer gaming sessions together. Regular communication has been key, whether it be with friends, family and/or colleagues.” 

The Demented Raven, Streamer, Safe In Our World Ambassador: 

“Whenever some of my friends have had a rough day or feel alone, we decide to play video games to brighten up our day. One of these games is Overwatch and it always ends up with wholesome laughs, silliness, banter and pure joys of friendship. Video games have the power to really help people reach out and are a reminder that you’re never alone.” 

Matt Murphy, Genba Digital CEO, Safe In Our World Trustee:  

“I was a child of the ZX Spectrum era, and so Way of the Exploding Fist and Saboteur were my Persona 5 Strikers and Dying Light 2, as I saved my pocket money to buy the latest cassette games. But my love for games never waned over the years even if my access did, as work and now kids became my primary focus. I have a son who is 5 and a daughter aged 3, and so they aren’t quite ready to outwit mummy and daddy at Among Us just yet. But I’ve started to use video games as another way to have fun with my children during lockdown at the weekend when we have a spare hour – especially given the creative challenges facing the social secretary for two small children on a Saturday! Yeah,it’s not the latest AAA, but my son loves it when we both play the Lego Movie game together. It focuses him on teamwork, fine motor skills, problem solving and the fact that you can’t always win – a pretty cool life lesson if you ask me. It’s great for our souls in these stressful times and as long as he can be Emmet then everything is awesome.”

What is clear now is that more and more people in the World are recognising that gaming isn’t just for kids, a waste of time or a bad influence. Through 2020, people realised that gaming was able to help us with our social needs, provide much-needed distraction, and support mental wellbeing. The video game industry saw huge growth during these times, with more households buying consoles to play their new favourite games to escape in, whether gaming on their own or with others online.  

Will gaming be recognised in history for providing such an escape in the pandemic? We hope so. And we’ll continue to shine a light on the wonderful stories that show video games can be a crutch to many in dark times.  

 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

Safe In Our World Announces Clinical Advisory Board, Welcomes SEGA Europe, & Expands Patrons With Jörg Tittel & Jack Morton

We are delighted to announce a series of updates for Safe In Our World, including the formation of our new Clinical Advisory Board, latest Level Up Partners and Patrons, and the 1st Anniversary Bundle selling out.

Clinical Advisory Board

We have officially launched our Clinical Advisory Board, welcoming Stuart John Chuan, founder Psychologically Informed Services, Paul Fletcher, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of Studies for Preclinical Medicine at Cambridge University, who also consulted on Ninja Theory’s Hellblade, Dr. Amiad Fredman who works in the digital Health industry, and Dany Bell, a former cancer nurse who now leads on recovery and genomics for Macmillan Nurses.

Their collective expertise spans the fields of Physiology, Medicine, Nursing, Digital Health and Genomics, the Clinical Advisory Board will advise the charity on its clinical agenda, as well ensuring a clinical view is considered in articles, blogposts and relevant research projects.


Our Newest Patrons

Additionally, we’re happy to welcome Jörg Tittel, writer, producer and director of plays, films and video games, and Jack Morton, innovation consultant at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital as our newest Patrons. Jörg and Jack both bring valuable experience and support to our mission and we’re delighted to have them onboard.

 “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to play a small part in making mental well-being a priority in our industry, both in terms of working practices and in the positive impact games can have on players new and old. As this difficult year draws to a close, I look forward to touching lives with Safe in Our World in a brighter 2021 and beyond.”

Jörg Tittel


Level Up Mental Health

SEGA Europe has now joined Safe In Our World as a committed Level Up Partner, alongside Limited Run Games and Dambuster Studios, who add to our growing list of companies looking to unite and commit to change within the industry and beyond.


Safe In Our World 1st Anniversary Bundle

The Safe In Our World 1st Anniversary Bundle has now sold out! We’re pleased to celebrate the success of our first bundle, in partnership with Fanatical, which will fund the creation of CBT courses tailored for gamers and those working within the video games industry, which will be free to access. Thank you for the support in making our first bundle a success!


 

Skills utilised:
News

World Mental Health Day 2020: Celebrating a Year Of Engaging the Industry to Talk About Mental Health

We celebrate a year of getting the industry talking about Mental Health, as we continue to challenge companies to consider the wellbeing of their gamers and employees.

This World Mental Health Day, Safe in Our World will be celebrating its 1st anniversary. In October of 2019 when the charity formed, nobody could have predicted the events of the following 12 months, and the impact that COVID-19 has had.

The importance of not only talking about mental health conditions, but also supporting mental health has never been as important for employees and those who play the games we help build. To mark the charity’s first birthday, on the eve of new hardware and software launches, Safe In Our World asks for all companies, publishers, developers and agencies to consider employee health at all times and for employees and gamers to reach out for support when they need it.

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with supporting the charity in its mission – our ambassadors, patrons, partners and supporters have been incredible at reinforcing the importance of mental health awareness in the gaming industry. We hope to grow our community further as we move into our second year.

Safe In Our World is also pleased to announce the creation of a range of new training opportunities available at the online training centre. These courses are designed to help companies better understand and support mental health conditions within the video games industry and are available to book now.

Additionally, Safe In Our World is delighted to welcome Ed Rumley, Senior Director, Business Development at Electronic Arts, as its newest Patron, alongside the likes of Dr Jo Twist OBE, Elle Osili-Wood, Pelle Lundborg and Kate Edwards.

We now look to 2021, to continue expanding our team and further increasing awareness, access and positivity towards mental health in the games industry.

Our message remains the same; it’s ok to not be ok.

If you need some guidance in understanding feelings and symptoms of mental health, you can visit our Support Page. For international helplines and web resources, please visit our Find Help page.

Skills utilised:
News

Network N Partners With Safe In Our World!

We are delighted to announce that NetworkN has joined forces with Safe in Our World. This will see branding placed across the family of sites, kicking off with PCGamesN – one of the world’s leading online PC gaming publications!

“We are proud to be working with the talented team at Safe In Our World,” Phil Jones, Network N global account manager and mental health first aider, says, “to drive awareness that, for anyone experiencing mental health issues, help is available.” (PCGamesN)

From our initiative with Fractured Minds and Xbox, to partnerships with the likes of Curve Digital and Out Right Games, we have seen incredible support for our cause at Safe in our World. With even more partnerships to be announced in the near future, we are excited to continue expanding our network of support and collaborate with incredible teams within the games industry.

If you are new to Safe in our World and are struggling with your mental health during the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 hub for practical advice, community stories, and helpful links.

 

 

Skills utilised:
News

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

UK Games industry census reveals 31% of the UK workforce suffer with anxiety or depression

A survey conducted by UKIE, the UK’s trade body for videogames and creative industries has discovered that 31 percent of respondents have suffered with anxiety, depression, or both. In the largest survey of its kind, these responses are a eye-opener to the scale of the issue within the games industry development community within the UK.

At nearly double the national UK average, this is something we need to change.

When compared nationally within the UK, these rates are nearly double the average rates of reported depression or anxiety, of 17 percent.

Other significant findings suggest that the games industry in the UK employs three to four times the number of autistic adults when compared with other employment sectors.

As an industry, we have an obligation to protect and nurture our staff, and while the report doesn’t go into detail on the root causes of depression or anxiety, it does recognise the sale of the issue at hand. As part of Safe in our World’s mission, we as a charity will continue to work closely with UKIE and others within the industry to raise awareness and affect positive change.

Over the coming months and years, we’ll be launching a number of initiatives with employers, employees and players, targeted to identify and ease the burden of depression and anxiety for our creators, and for our players.

Skills utilised:
News

Dr Jo Twist OBE, Award-winning Advocate Kate Edwards and Leading Actor Doug Cockle Join as Patrons!

If this was an ARPG, these would be the heroes battling for the greater good!

We’re pleased to announce and welcome the joining of Dr. Jo Twist OBE, CEO of UKIE; Kate Edwards, long time industry advocate and Take This board member; and Doug Cockle, acclaimed actor/director/voice talent of Geralt of Rivia, star of The Witcher game series; all to serve as Patrons. The addition of these well regarded individuals reflects the ongoing commitment, growth and development of Safe In Our World, whose mission is helping to bring more global awareness, resources and benefits to those in need. The ever-growing list of Patrons mirrors the diverse industry including passionate veterans from leading publishers, developers, content creators and service areas. In addition to Patrons, Safe In Our World is building a team of Ambassadors to help share stories in an effort to further remove stigma that still exists around talking about how you feel. To see who has joined the Safe In Our World team, visit our team page!

Dr Jo Twist OBE, Award-winning Advocate Kate Edwards and Leading Actor Doug Cockle Join as Patrons

Jo Twist is CEO of Ukie, the trade body for UK games and interactive entertainment, making the UK the best place in the world to make, sell and play games. In addition to her role as Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, she is also Deputy Chair of the British Screen Forum, Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces, Ambassador on the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, and she sits on the Creative Industries Council. In 2016 Twist was awarded an OBE for services to the creative industries and won the MCV 30 Women in Games award for Outstanding Contribution. She is a Vice President for games and accessibility charity, SpecialEffect and the UK Government’s Sector Champion for Disabilities.

Dr Jo Twist OBE Said: “I’m delighted to support Safe in our World, a charity that will play a vital role in the future of our industry for both players and creators. We all have mental as well as physical health and we need to look after both”

Kate Edwards is a 26-year veteran and an outspoken, award-winning advocate of the game industry and the former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). Kate is also a geographer and corporate strategist who pioneered and specialises in content culturalization. Following 13 years at Microsoft, she has consulted on many game and non-game projects for BioWare, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and many other companies. In 2018, she was honoured with Reboot Develop’s annual Hero Award and also presented with IndieCade’s annual Game Changer Award. In 2020, she will be honoured with GDC’s Ambassador Award. She is also profiled in the December 2018 publication Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play and in 2017 joined Take This, a US based mental health advocacy group in the games industry.

Kate Edwards said: “I’m a huge believer in positive mental health advocacy across our industry, and am beyond enthusiastic to expand those I’m able to assist as I continue my role with Take This, while also bringing that experience to Safe in our World.”

Doug Cockle is an American actor, director and acting teacher living in the United Kingdom. For over 20 years he has worked in theatre, film, television, radio, video games and corporate video. Doug was also the Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Acting degree at the Arts University Bournemouth from 2005 to 2017. Doug has worked extensively in the video games industry and is primarily known for his work as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher video games.

Doug Cockle said: “As a long time gaming professional, I’m honoured to be involved with Safe in our World. Mental health is of paramount importance, and I aim to do all I can to take the message that nobody is alone to as wide an audience as possible.”

Skills utilised:
News

This Christmas… Talk.

Our message this Christmas, is to talk.

Christmas is a time to enjoy with friends and family. It is a time to eat, be merry and joyful, and more importantly… it is a time to catch up on all those games that we haven’t had a chance to play! But Christmas is also a time that affects a lot of people mentally. The lack of friends and family. The low feelings. The negative self-esteem. The depression. No one should feel alone this holiday season. PLEASE help us spread this message, or indeed talk to someone if you are feeling low, and do keep an eye open for others, offer a word of comfort, talk, and share your experiences.

Merry Christmas from the Safe In Our World family.

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SIOW Joins Ukie

Today Ukie revealed that Safe In Our World has joined as a member. We’re delighted and grateful for the support UKIE has offered us, and the opportunities this will offer for us to contribute to their initiatives, and the extended reach our messages will have.

Founded in 1989, Ukie is the only trade body for the UK’s wider interactive entertainment industry. Ukie exist to champion the interests, needs and positive image of the video games and interactive entertainment industry whose companies make up their membership.

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Shadow’s Edge game helps kids cope with chronic disease

Shadow’s Edge isn’t meant to be a blockbuster game, but it may be much more meaningful to the people that it reaches. It is a free mobile game for teens and young adults who are suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer.

It’s an example of narrative therapy, which uses storytelling to help promote changes in perspective, enable distance from pain or trauma, and identify skills and strategies for managing being sick, said Rosemary Lokhorst, producer of Shadow’s Edge, in an interview with VentureBeat.

Sheri Sobrato Brisson, who survived brain cancer as a young adult, started the original project about five years ago, beginning with Digging Deep, a paper-based book by Rose Offner and Brisson. It told a story about how to cope with illness through writing.

Digging Deep was distributed to hospitals and more than 35,000 copies made it into the hands of kids and teens. About two years ago, the team started working on a game in the hopes of reaching more kids with something that they could relate to better.

“We’re creating self-help tools for young folks to build emotional resilience and strength,” said Rosemary Lokhorst, producer at Digging Deep, in an interview with GamesBeat.

A small team of a half-dozen at Digging Deep worked on the psychology behind the game, and a Dutch game studio, Little Chicken Game Company, built the game with a staff of 11 people. But it took a couple of years to complete because the groups constantly sought the feedback of young people to make sure it resonated with them.

“We had more than 500 touch points with more than 200 players, where we asked them questions about the design and the psychology behind it,” Lokhorst said, who also lived with a chronic illness for 20 years. “They helped with the metaphors in the game, the dialogue, and the questions for the problems. So the game was not only developed with the awesome input of the psychologists, but it was also done with the players, which was really gratifying.”

Last fall, Shadow’s Edge debuted as a mobile adventure game targeting audiences ranging from 13 to 23. The parent nonprofit, Digging Deep, says it is not easy for teens to talk about the dark and scary side of illness. They don’t have the words to express themselves or even know how to start. What’s missing is a simple tool that guides young patients through their emotional journey.

The game acknowledges the hardships that the players are facing in their real lives, and it helps them cope by having them help restore color and life to a shadowy and run-down city. The city has been hit by a storm, much like patients have been hit by an illness, and the player has to help a character restore place. It reminds me of Thatgamecompany’s Flower in that way.

The game’s goal is to positively impact factors that build emotional resilience. The game invites players to find the missing pages of a journal and to write on a series of relevant prompts they discover in the world of Shadow’s Edge.

The expression through writing and art in the game is a way of empowering players, helping them integrate the situations they are facing, to heal emotionally and to build their identity along their journey.

“Your illness does not define who you are, you do,” the game tells the kids.

The prompts are based on psychological principles from narrative therapy, positive psychology, and existential psychology and are written in a sensitive way so that teens can understand and internalize them.

They are written to help players strengthen their capacity for seven factors research associates with emotional resilience:

  • Proactive Coping: dealing in a future-oriented way with a difficult situation; setting realistic goals.
  • Mindfulness and acceptance: the nonjudgmental focus on and acceptance of present moment experiences.
  • Optimism: a mental and emotional attitude that future conditions will work out for the best.
  • Emotional Regulation: the capacity to allow and deal with strong emotions.
  • Derived Meaning: getting a sense of purpose through what is happening.
  • Positive Self Identity: having a feeling of self-worth.
  • Connectedness: being able to access the feeling of being supported and being able to reach out for help.
  • Gameplay: a quest to restore a shattered city to life through writing and graffiti.

In the game, three guardians give the player the task to discover the pages of a lost journal. The player moves through the worlds of Disruption, Disillusionment, and Discovery by responding to sensitive and relevant writing prompts. The journaling prompts help the teen to get started writing and expressing about their situation, also about topics that are difficult to talk about.

An easy to use art editor provides graffiti stencils and tools to color the world. Through self-expression and discovering hidden wisdoms, the player restores the city of Shadow’s Edge to life. Teens learn from their peers and receive positive feedback through protected sharing of their graffiti in an in-game Instagram-style sharing platform.

When teenagers are faced with a serious and often chronic illnesses like cancer, cystic fibrosis, or diabetes, they face a lot of challenges. Of course, there are the physical symptoms — which are treated by medical doctors, nurses, and physical therapists and so on; the teenagers are well taken care of.

Besides the physical challenges, there are also psychosocial challenges. The teens have to deal with uncertainty about the future, illness-related symptoms, issues with body identity, their identity as a person, isolation, and dependency.

More than 5,000 people have played the game. The team tried to make sure the title was fun, and not just educational. That’s why they created Shadowgram, a social place akin to Instagram where players could post their art creations from the game.

“Games give them a suspension of disbelief and let them practice and experiment in a fun environment,” Lokhorst said.

The Digging Deep group conducted an in-house study of 55 adolescents between August and October, 2017. About 50% had a physical illness, 20% had a mental illness, and 30% chose not to disclose their health challenge. They played for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day over four weeks, and they did self-assessments on the seven factors related to emotional resilience.

At the end of the four weeks, they answered questions about the gameplay and their feelings. Results indicated a positive impact on four factors of emotional resilience. Players described a change in connectedness, with 81% of players reporting they tried to better understand others since having
played.

73% reported they realized more clearly how other teens think and feel the way they do. About 84% felt a positive change in feeling creative. They were more optimistic, more positive about their identity, and felt more control of their emotions.

“The game does make you expose your feelings if you are honest and challenges you to continue to believe healing does come,” said one user named David, 14 years old.

Now the group is undertaking a more formal research study (at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine / Lurie Children’s Hospital Chicago) to gauge the impact of the game. But there are plenty of testimonials on the site. The study will look at 174 adolescents and young adults who are receiving cancer treatments at Lurie Children’s.

Over time, the creators of Shadow’s Edge would love to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a form of treatment for children and young adults with chronic illnesses.

“Shadow’s Edge is a chance for patients to reboot, to re-establish control, own and master their illness, and move on with their lives,” said Paul Fisher, chief of the division of child neurology at Stanford University, in a statement.

So far, most of the funding has come from the founders. The nonprofit is looking for more donors so that it can build more immersive worlds through augmented reality and virtual reality.

“For us, the dream would be to find more partners,” Lokhorst said.

Original article can be found via VentureBeat.

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