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Keep On Keeping On: Death Stranding Proves That Positivity Promotes Successful Change by Kieran Harris

Change. It’s a scary word and one that can unleash a wave of anxiety and crippling doubt when we know that it’s coming.

Change can come in many forms, be it our appearance, location, workplace or even what we have for breakfast. The mere thought of our routines being slightly altered can swallow us up and force us to stop in our tracks and have second thoughts. Yet, what we don’t always seem to consider is that change can be and almost always is a good thing. If something is changing it’s because it either needs to or because we want it to, so sometimes we need to concentrate on the positive aspects of change instead of allowing ourselves to freeze in what can be important moments in our lives.

Nothing encapsulates this sentiment of positivity bringing about successful change quite like Death Stranding’s online features. Hideo Kojima is perhaps a little smarter than we imagined as he created a world where working together is not just ideal, it’s absolutely necessary. This wonderful game pre-dated the real-world pandemic yet it trained us for it better than we even realised. In a world where people required others to fetch necessities and keeping your distance was a way to keep everyone safe, Death Stranding saw us playing a delivery man taking long journeys to people isolated from the dangers outside.

What’s more important though is how players could work together to make a positive change. The actions in your game impacted the world of others – provided you’re playing online of course – but only ever in positive ways. There’s a real sense of community in Death Stranding in a world where it’s pretty much empty, which really resonates with us all as people living during a pandemic. For example, you could leave signs lying around so that when another player gets to that location they have warnings about potential hazards, or even just a positive message to encourage them on their endeavours.

Perhaps the most interesting and poignant addition to the gameplay of Death Stranding is how people work together on structures. A fresh world on Death Stranding is desolate, barren and dangerous. However, as you progress you can find materials to construct helpful buildings and highways, allowing for places to stop and safe roads to travel. These roads are shared across players and each person can donate materials to improve the constructions making it safer for everyone to play. One day you can load the game and have open landscape with nothing around, then suddenly through the efforts of others you can return to the area and a highway the length of the world could be there providing a direct path to your next destination. Or even better, a zipline system that lets you speed through the world through the air. It’s intuitive game design for sure but it’s also a great indicator of how people can work towards one goal and accept that change is not always a bad thing. Realistically, the game wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Guerilla Games allowing Kojima Productions to use their engine!

Moreover, you can leave a ‘like’ on the helpful guidance that you receive but you can’t leave a ‘dislike’. Likes are given automatically when you use something that’s left by other players and you can give more likes as a sort of “tip” as Kojima puts it. When making the game, Kojima said: “I didn’t want to give “thumbs down”. I didn’t want to give any negative in this game; it was a positive intent when I started this game.” A statement as wholesome as this shows that the game is achieving what he envisioned; everyone working together in a fundamentally human way, with no egos and only an appetite for healthy change towards a common goal.

This creates a real sense of camaraderie amongst players and a feeling that you’re making a positive change. Sometimes, just focusing on the good that a change can have, even if not necessarily to yourself, can make you feel much better about it. Sometimes change is inevitable and unavoidable but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be okay because it will be. There are always people who can support you through your change even if you may have not met them yet, they’re waiting to do their part just like in Death Stranding.

Working hard together does breed successful and positive change and as difficult as it may sometimes seem to be, trying to focus on the positives can help train ourselves to accept change as good. We can all learn something from Death Stranding about encouraging each other and remaining upbeat even in our toughest moments to get us through to the other side and it’s perfectly doable if we all work towards our goals.

 


Kieran Harris

Kieran Harris is a writer from the West Midlands, UK. He spends most of his time going to gigs and playing video games. He studied Creative Writing and English at university and loves nerding out to amazing stories and learning how to craft them for his own endeavours.

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Promoting Positivity In Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Georgie Peru

The Animal Crossing series started way back in 2001 with Animal Forest. Since then, Animal Crossing has offered casual gamers a safe place to relax and unwind.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was aptly released on March 20th 2020, just as the global Coronavirus pandemic hit and created extremely turbulent times.

For many countries around the world, Spring marked the beginning of lockdown measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Causing a dramatic change in pace for many people, Animal Crossing: New Horizons offered a break from the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

A Sense Of Normality

Released on Nintendo Switch, Animal Crossing tasks players to clean up, make a home, and develop an island life. Starting their residence with a simple tent, Animal Crossing players can complete tasks, collect items, and welcome new villagers in order to claim island status. Players will eventually own their own island home which is customisable, from the rooms inside your house to how your mailbox looks.

Animal Crossing offers daily activities which gave people a sense of routine that was missing from real life. Meeting and making friends with residents and other players certainly offered a source of positive psychological wellbeing, bringing a much-needed calm in the storm most of us are slowly easing out of.

After immersing yourself in a few minutes of play, Animal Crossing can definitely lighten the load through its use of beautiful environments and imagination. Throughout the year, Nintendo released regular updates to the game like Bunny Day where players could join in on Easter-themed festivities like an egg hunt. 

Psychological Recovery

While it isn’t possible to label recovery as a single definition, the “recovery model” is often used to display the importance of supporting individuals with mental health conditions by recognising their identity and boosting their self-esteem.

The recovery process is sometimes described by the acronym CHIME; Connectedness, Hope and Optimism, Identity, Meaning and Purpose, and Empowerment. 

Animal Crossing ticks the boxes of psychological recovery by offering:

  • Connection with island residents and other players
  • Relaxation
  • Opportunities to learn
  • Feelings of control
  • A sense of accomplishment

Engaging in the game’s lighthearted activities, people can find a place to stabilise their mood and develop a sense of mindfulness. Offering players a space to restore their psychological energy allows a more calm and logical approach to coping with real life.

Animal Crossing allows people to soak in a wealth of visual opportunities, including the vast ocean, luscious landscapes, catching fish, chasing bugs, and interacting with other players.

Talking to other island residents certainly adds to the feeling of positivity through engaging and positive dialogue. Once you’ve started to build a rapport with these villagers, you can give and receive gifts and even help them in repairing their own relationships.

Expressive and Creative Play

The routine behaviour in the game helps to encourage positive feedback. Mindful tasks are uplifting and offer a sense of reward and accomplishment through simple and casual play. New Horizons definitely offers a level of self-expressive play, allowing players to showcase their creativity in a safe space. Whether it’s expanding your home, buying new wallpaper for your bedroom, or purchasing a new item for your island, this safe space offers people a leg up in the psychological process.

You could easily spend hours designing your island through the vast tools Nintendo offers in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

There’s an in-game phone (NookPhone) that contains a multitude of apps for you to discover, including:

  • Camera
  • Nook Miles
  • Critterpedia
  • DIY Recipes
  • Custom Designs
  • Map
  • Passport
  • Call Resident
  • Rescue Service
  • Island Designer
  • Nook Shopping
  • Best Friends List
  • Chat Log

All of these apps encourage players to explore the different possibilities available to them. 

Each day in Animal Crossing leaves where you left off, but represents actual times, dates, and seasons comparative to the real-life world. As the seasons change, players will see their islands transform, with snow in the Winter, and more bugs in Spring/Summer. The way in which the game coincides with day/night and season cycles makes it a positive escape from reality, without going too far off course.

Another representation that Animal Crossing nails on the head are that of the psychological resource of agency. The feeling of autonomy is accurately depicted through the use of meaningful engagement with the environment. Whether a player chooses to spend time weeding and catching bugs, or visiting other islands, all are classed as valid actions.

Allowing players to practice curiosity is another positive element that Animal Crossing successfully achieves. People tend to indulge in curiosity when they feel safe, and every part of this game offers a safe space to explore. There aren’t any bad actions as such, there’s no death, no respawning, and no checkpoints. 

Promoting Positivity

As restrictions start to lift and we step cautiously out of the woods, Animal Crossing: New Horizons continues to be an invaluable escape. 

This wholesome gaming experience encourages positive behaviours and feelings and is a beacon of light that’s sold more than 31 million copies.


Georgie Peru’s Muckrack

Georgie is a bright, friendly and outgoing person. She is a highly analytical and technical individual who has a passion and the right mind-set for thought-provoking work, particularly focusing on content writing and web writing.

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12 Days of Positivity

As 2020 draws to a close, we look back and reflect on the difficulties we have faced and overcome – instead of focusing on the negatives, we can look to see the positive things that have blossomed from this year.

New and innovative hobbies have sprung from lockdown, we’ve found different techniques to relax and wind down, and discovered new games that help us escape. It’s important to remember the positives, and be proud of ourselves and each other for getting through a really tough year, and to celebrate each other as we move forward.

Over the next 12 days, Safe In Our World will be sharing 12 of our positives that we’re taking from this year into the next – with thanks from everyone at Safe In Our World. We will be updating this page every day, so watch this space.

Stay tuned from the 13th – 24th December to read all the different things we’ve been up to, you might read something you want to try yourself!


Day 1 – Richard Lee Breslin

“Whether I’m feeling stressed, depressed, overwhelmed, suffering from tinnitus or just want to pass by an hour or two, there’s very little that lifts my spirits more than painting my board game miniatures.

Due to a lack of confidence, I had put this hobby off for years, but during lockdown I decided to go for it and now it’s turned into one of my all-time favourite hobbies.

With each miniature I feel like I’ve learned something new and I always look forward to the next. If there’s any hobby that you’ve wanted to do, just go for it as you might discover a talent you thought you never had.”


Day 2 – Stefano Petrullo

Patron, Founder of Renaissance PR

“Once coming to this country back in 2006 I was not able to call myself a chef, barely been able to cook eggs and some basic pasta dishes! Now, with years of experience, I’ve found cooking extremely relaxing, and that it completely disconnects me to the intricacies and the complication of day-by-day work.

We are so lucky to work in such an amazing industry which is not affected too much by COVID. At the same time we have to acknowledge how this intense this industry can be. There’s nothing wrong with stopping and having a break, and looking at a recipe (a simple Carbonara, an elaborated Risotto with taleggio, red wine and salsiccia are the perfect way to completely reset whatever stress you have).

Start simple with something you actually like and then gradually experiment. My love for cooking has recently led me to a passion for BBQ… from burgers, to more elaborate cooking techniques to create the perfect dish. Am I a master of this? No, not at all… but cooking gives me this moment of peace between too many press-releases, the occasional embargo being broken, and a difficult feature I am trying to pitch.”


Day 3 – RenjiPls

Ambassador, Content Creator

“The biggest thing I loved during lockdown was making sure I got in my government-approved walks every day. These last few months it’s been a bit more difficult, but I’m looking forward to getting out into the lovely winter weather!”

Just look at the views Renji has on his doorstep!


Day 4 – Lara Jackson

Ambassador, Journalist

“Seeing family is hard this year, so I’ve had to say goodbye to the traditional Christmas tree decorating with my loved ones. Still, the festive spirit is what you make of it, and decorating a winter wonderland in The Sims 4 is almost as good as the real thing! I created a house, got a turkey dinner in the oven and – with Christmas music blaring – I nestled in by the fire to decorate my home from top to toe. It might not be what I expected from Christmas 2020, but it was fun, relaxing and definitely has me in the festive spirit!”


Day 5 – Jack Mullen

Ambassador

“One little thing I came up with was using a resistance band for mini exercises. Back during the first lockdown in April I was in the Shielding category (This meant I couldn’t leave the house for 12 weeks, so became very conscious that I wasn’t getting exercise, from not even being able to go for a quick walk around the block).

I set myself up a little room to do some body weight exercises, including use of a small resistance band for leg side raises etc. I set myself a target of a certain amount each day and increased the amount by 1 each day as a little challenge. Naturally I got a little obsessed, and what was great is that with those exercises is that I managed to maintain the same weight over the period of being stuck in give or take a pound or two. Certainly important to me, as the condition I have that forced me to shield is kept under control by me maintaining a healthy weight.

An added bonus of these exercises is that they’re easy to do whilst multitasking, so quite a lot of the time I would be playing some games whilst getting some exercise, without really realising.”


Day 6 – Antonela Pounder

Ambassador, Director of Global Community at 505 Games

“As someone who knows too well how devastating COVID can be, I’ve spent a lot of 2020 trying to deal with grief. Communication has been key in the healing process. Online gaming sessions with friends and colleagues has helped a lot. Animal Crossing during the wobbly / difficult days proved to be a wonderful distraction and Flight Simulator has taken me places I couldn’t get to. Running has helped clear the mind and most recently, I’ve been spending my spare time making Christmas decorations, which I’ve loved! Keeping the mind active is important and will continue to be during Christmas.”


Day 7 – Nick Powell

Patron, Product Manager – Curve Digital

“Christmas! A time to eat, drink, eat some more and pack on the pounds. That’s how a lot of people seem to think this time of year, but last year I decided to do something a little more beneficial for my physical and mental health and committed to exercising on a daily basis. I challenged myself to come out of the festive period in better shape than when I went in. It’s not just Quality Street that comes in bite sized chunks – there’s a wealth of short, but effective exercise routines on YouTube you can follow from the safety of your own home and Frank Medrano’s calisthenics based exercises were my go to, and still are to this day, where I try and do at least 5 or 6 of them each week to try and maintain my physical health, which in turn really helps my mental health by improving my mood no end.”

This is Nick’s current workout by Frank Medrano! Are you up to the challenge?

Check out Nick’s Best YouTube Fitness Channels below:


Day 8 – SariaSlays

Ambassador, Content Creator

“Something that has helped me very recently is doing a little bit of DIY/decoration and updating my room so it feels more fresh and new.

I recently got some small bits/plants from IKEA to make my room feel more comfortable and it really perked my mood up! I would recommend anybody to try it out, even if it’s just changing the layout of your room, tidying your desk or putting on a nice candle.

I spend most of my day in this room doing work/streaming so it’s definitely worthwhile for my mental health.”


Day 9 – Jeane Wong

Patron, CEO of ONE PR Studio

“I’m a firm believer of staying positive and always trying to find something good in everything the world throws at you. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, each and every experience and situation I go through teaches me something. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should expect to have good and bad days, but hopefully there are more good than bad, and know that you’re in control of your life and how you handle things. To me, being alive and having the liberties and freedoms many of us have is something I feel very fortunate to have and do not take for granted. Things can always be worse, and unfortunately they are for many people so I genuinely appreciate what I have and I humbly try to do what I can for others.

This year certainly tested my belief, and I’m happy to say there were so many good things that happened despite the bad. For me, the pandemic has allowed me to spend more time with my family – human and of the fur kind. There will be wonderful memories that come out of this time, despite what my two teenage boys think right now… mark my words, kiddos! I know my fur kids, 2 awesome dogs, are more appreciative of the time we’ve been spending together.  Even when the corgi loses a game of 3-way blackjack, as seen in one of these photos.”


Day 10 – Emma Withington

Web Team, Games PR at Bastion

It has been a year hasn’t it? 

For me 2020 has put a lot of things into perspective – most importantly, it has shown me who’s there when the going gets tough. Playing social games such as Animal Crossing, Fall Guys, and Among Us have been a huge part of what has made 2020 more than just ‘the year of the pandemic’. It’s allowed me to strengthen existing friendships and develop new ones. The brightest things shine in the darkest of times – so hold on to those guiding lights on your way to a better future. 

So, maybe you haven’t been able to take up a new hobby or try something new – that’s OK. Sometimes the facilities and the motivation just aren’t there and it’s OK to sometimes indulge in life’s comfort food. It’s a Christmas tradition for me to replay the Saints Row IV DLC: How the Saints Save Christmas – so I look forward to, once again, saving Santa with a Christmas-themed dubstep gun and spending time online with those who mean the most.


Day 11 – Nintendo Power Couple

Ambassadors

For us, the year started very rough. We were trying to move out and get back on our feet while finding ourselves depressed every day due to everything negative going on in the world. There were many days where the news was just unbearable to watch and all hope felt lost. However, for our 8-year wedding anniversary, we adopted a rescue puppy we named Milo who has changed our lives for the better in every single way! His constant kisses, cuddles, love and affection have been a positive influence on the two of us. His kindness washes away all of our anxieties and stresses and we find ourselves more at peace when he’s by our side. 

So our tip for not just the holiday season but also life in general is, if you have the means to, go to your local animal shelter and adopt a little furry friend. They’ll change your lives “fur” the better and you will find yourself wondering how you lived so long without them!


Day 12 – Ed Rumley

Patron

This Christmas, my intention is to become the CEO of the sofa in the Rumley household. This year I’ll be focussed on Watch Dogs Legion, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit and Astro’s Playroom. I also need to complete A Way Out with my son as it’s a co-op only game. There’s plenty more in my games playlist if I get through those! I will make sure I leave the sofa as a daily burst of exercise is really important to me. I’m a keen runner and love the “me time” when I chuck on my trainers and lose myself in some 90’s dance classics as I hit the streets! With that said, I’m currently nursing a running injury so am taking it easy on the distance so we will be continuing our family walks that we discovered during lockdown!”

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SafeMentaliTee

Over the 20th – 22nd November, Seven Squared launched a campaign in support of Safe In Our World, called SafeMentaliTee.

Across the weekend, gamers came together to share the positive impacts that video games have had on their mental health. Stories were shared through social media posts, videos, or streams across the duration of the event, to celebrate gaming in a positive light and how it can support mental health as a whole.

The weekend raised over £2,000 for Safe In Our World, through donations and t-shirt sales, which is just amazing. Below are some of the inspiring stories that have been spoken about over the weekend, in the effort of encouraging more conversation around mental health.


“For as long as I can remember, mental health issues have been a part of my life. It’s a challenge to get an accurate diagnosis unless you fit a particular box, and at 29 years old I have finally been diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) (and chasing ADD). The escapism provided by videogames can relieve some of that need to ‘escape’ in more destructive ways. It built friendships and gave me a community of people that I shared a major part of my life in common with, where I struggled with that in my local community. It gives many people their ‘tribe’ – this is very true of streaming too. During lockdown, streaming videogames has helped us because it nurtures a social life, creates and sets challenges, goals to focus on, and we’ve been able to support so many causes (like this one!). Video games have made me laugh, cry, fall in love, be in awe, reconsider, empathise, feel better about myself, feel clever, make hard choices, gain skills, reconnect and most of all – made me who I am.”

Scumm & Villainy


“I’ve found recently I’m playing more video games than ever, they allow me to engage with fellow gamers & talk about the 

things we enjoy/how I’m feeling, on a safe platform. For me personally, I find that video games are a great form of escapism, especially in these stressful times of uncertainty.”

~ Ant Stream Arcade


“Gaming can be a force for good, transport you somewhere different and make you feel good about yourself. When I was young during my birth something went wrong and it ripped apart my upper arm, it never properly healed, because of this I missed out on a lot and got quite a lot of abuse for this, it emotionally and mentally affected me as I got older, it was challenging. I was brought up on a musical mindset from my mother and ended up going into a more computer game direction. When I felt low from school or any of life’s tough moments I’d distance myself and listen to music and play video games which cemented all of my love in everything and provided the escape I needed.”

~ Bean Hed


“Mental health is more important than ever and games have personally helped me through the years.”

~ UKNESBoy


“This weekend I supported the Squared Seven #SAFEMentaliTEE campaign for mental health and the positive effects games have had for people – they’ve certainly helped me!”

~ Kim Justice


GAMING SAVED MY LIFE…IT PROBABLY SAVED SOMEONE ELSES TOO!!! Games were my escape, they were the one place I could be in control, where I couldn’t be hurt and all of life’s problems faded away. I could come home from school and put on my Spectrum or eventually my MegaDrive and shut out the world around me. I remember loading up Head Over Heels, Seymour Goes to Hollywood, Operation Wolf, Treasure Island Dizzy, 180 Darts and more.

~ Mental Health Gaming


“Sometimes it’s about being a part of something bigger, that lets you open up and be honest with yourself. Having a community of people around you who aren’t afraid to discuss difficult topics with you is so important because it’s so easy to internalise these things and suffer because of it.”

~ Rosie Taylor


“For me, video games have actually been a lifesaver as on numerous occasions I have had issues with my own mental health, especially during the pandemic. Mental health is not something to be brushed under the carpet! It’s a serious issue and video games do help. Stop this stigma! Even without the pandemic, individuals suffer from their mental health and it can affect anyone. There have been times where I’ve felt lost, alone and unable to cope. It’s horrible to feel like you are also a burden to others. Your mental health is important! #SAFEMentaliTEE. Do not feel like you are wasting people’s time if you are suffering. You have every right to ask for help and it doesn’t make you weak. Never feel like you are not worth it. And if you are worried about someone, check in on them – they will appreciate it”

~ Chazie


“A lot of people don’t know my struggle but video games have helped a lot. I was never great in school when young, never cared for it. I’d get involved, but the older I got I started getting sick when I’d enter the place. I had no idea why, and things were getting out of control. I’d go to the nurse, I’d call my parents and say I’d need to go home and as soon as I left I was perfectly fine. I would go home play games, do whatever and I felt fine. People around me kept thinking I was making it up, I got frustrated, I didn’t understand, I got depressed, I couldn’t participate in things I loved with friends and I got angry as-well. I lost friends, respect of my family, it felt like everything was falling apart, I was so angry I’d sadly take it out on others. I turned to video games and the more I played the better I felt, I started making friends again, ones I still have today and became part of communities, it saved me and became a huge part of my life, I then met my partner Jambo through Twitch gaming and life couldn’t be better. Gaming can do so much for people.”

~ Anthony

 

 

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