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Be in Safe In Our World’s Video Campaign

Safe In Our World is calling all gamers out there to help us champion everyone’s mental health throughout our industry.

Through games and play we share the stories that billions of people across the world engage with. We want to create a video to positively show the variety and diverse range of people that play games, and we need your help.

We need YOU to record a short clip of yourself, from your phone, saying “I am a Gamer”. 

If you would like to record as a group then please say all together “We are Gamers”.

How to Film

In order to get the best quality and consistency for all submissions, All participants are asked to try and follow these suggestions when shooting your short video.

Best possible filming device used if possible – Latest iPhone/Android, any access to a filming kit. 16:9 || 4K or 1080p HD

A 15 second portrait of each contributor would be helpful – Camera or phone mounted on a tripod a few feet away to capture a head and shoulders video portrait in 16:9 format. We would like to have two versions:

  1. Straight down the lens not smiling.
  2. Straight down the lens smiling with phone cameras in landscape mode.

Turn off all background noises, quiet room or area.

For those who want to go even further: some footage of you playing games – must be filmed either over the shoulder with them in context (no full screen play). A few various other shots (maybe webcam footage if you are a streamer), close up of hands playing controller/mouse, eyes, etc.

Please send your video to benn@safeinourworld.com by the end of July.

Help us tell the story of Safe In Our World where we are asking all video game companies to unite and commit to change, for the wellbeing of all of us together.

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Custom Pronouns in the Sims 4 with Momo Misfortune (Safe Space Podcast Season 2, Episode 2)

In this episode, Rosie and Sky chat to Momo Misfortune. Momo is a Twitch partner who is known for streaming The Sims, as well as campaigning for pronouns in the Sims, and a founder of YOUphoriaTV which is stream team focused on uplifting the voices of Nonbinary and Gender Non Conforming creators on Twitch.

We discuss the incredible causes such as Able Gamers, Trans Women of Colour Collective that they have supported, and the Change.org campaign Momo made for adding pronoun options into The Sims 4 which had almost 25,000 signatures before it became a reality.

Momo talks about It Gets Better as an Ambassador and their connection with The Sims 4, and also about their experience with chronic illness and how it affects their mental health.

Links

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A Celebration of Play Your Way and Mental Health Month

Over May 2022, we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month with our #PlayYourWay Initiative, asking gamers to play the games that mean the most to them, whilst embracing the discussion around mental health and our connections between our games and how we feel.

We’re delighted to announce that the Safe In Our World community raised over £15,000 from community fundraising, donations and activity to support the charity, its future initiatives and the work we do within the games industry to support the people who work within it!

Throughout the month, we saw so many fantastic creators set their sights on the games that mean the most to them to celebrate #PlayYourWay and raise awareness around mental health. The variety of games that you chose highlighted the individuality of our relationships with games, and how we can celebrate games in so many ways. From community focused horrors such as Phasmophobia (we’re looking at you Hannah…) to wholesome Nintendo adventures to lunchtime Wordfall with the Press Engine team!

Enjoy this clip of Hannah definitely not panicking with Ellie pulling tarot cards in the dark….

Hannah panics in the corner of the Twitch screenshot, where her and Elliejoypanic pull tarot cards in Phasmophobia

Hannah definitely not panicking – screenshot from Lomadiah (twitch.tv/lomadia)

Or this clip of Chimp195 singing Staying Alive playing The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan…

It wouldn’t be fair to also give a nod to some of the forfeits you signed yourselves up for from your community, including Beanboozled (debatably the worst) and so much slime over at Jinjar’s community. So much slime

A huge thank you to the numerous companies and studios that hosted Sarah and Rosie to talk about the charity during Mental Health Awareness Week! We facilitated fantastic discussions, panels and talks about why mental health is so important, especially within the games industry.

Jinjar - bearded streamer in grey t shirt pours lime green slime over his head, previous slime/beans/chaos can be seen on his t shirt already.

Jinjar gets slimed for Safe In Our World (Photo from Twitter: @Jinjar247)

We also saw some physical challenges undertaken from the Safe In Our World community, including Genba Digital’s Team Wolf Run! Check out the team picture below.

10 people lined up jump into a mud river for the Wolf Run

Photo from the @GenbaDigital Twitter Account

The lovely team at Switch Players Norwich hosted a raffle benefitting Safe In Our World, where you can see the excitement unfolding. We saw a wonderful week of variety games from the Grads in Games team, from Harry’s journey into The Last of Us Left Behind, indie games from Dan and Alex’s Minecraft adventure.

Alex celebrates with his arms in the air

Alex defies the odds on Minecraft Chaos stream with Grads in Games

We also saw one of the largest stream trains supporting Safe In Our World, with The ‘Safe In Our Raids’ team ran by Pengy, raising an amazing £3,000 across the 48 hour event. 24 x 2 hour streams, 48 hours of wholesome chaos. We even saw Pengy bustin’ moves with the penguins in the stream summary. Excellent.

Pengy is in a penguin suit, dancing in front of 3 cartoon penguins in celebration of the 48 hour stream raid train event

Screenshot from Pengy’s celebratory stream (twitch.tv/TheRealPengy)

All in all, we’re so proud of our community for stepping up this mental health awareness month to champion our mission and eliminate stigma surrounding mental health. Every person who contributed has our sincere gratitude and thanks, whether you streamed, fundraised, got involved with activities, donated, or showed up to watch it all happen – you helped #PlayYourWay be the success that it was. Thank you.

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Autistica, Mass Effect & EDI with Dom Shaw (Safe Space Podcast Season 1 Episode 8)

On this episode of Safe Space we welcome Dominic Shaw from UKIE’s #RaiseTheGame pledge as our latest guest.

In this episode we talk about Dom’s life; from games he enjoyed growing up through to the games industry introduction and eventually him settling into UKIE. We also go into depth about LGBTQ+, autism, dyslexia and support within the industry, as well as the journey he took to get where he is today. Dom also talks about his work with Autistica Play.

As always, we grill our lovely guest on his all-time favourite games, and talk about Dom’s love for the Mass Effect series and how he used to skip school just to experience BioWare’s ever-growing Universe. We also go into depth about the impact that video games had in Dom’s life.

You can find Dom here on Twitter.

Follow the Safe In Our World Podcast here on Twitter for clips, updates and guest interactions!

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Is BioShock a Christmas game? How Rapture helps me through the festive period following the death of my uncle by Joe Donnelly

The festive season is a time for giving. A time for family and for friends, for pulling crackers, wearing silly paper crowns and reading aloud even sillier jokes. It’s a time for watching too many novelty television specials that haven’t aged well, and for debating whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It’s a time for asking the same questions of BioShock as a Christmas video game, and… hang on, what? That’s a new one. Let me explain. 

No matter which side of the annual ‘is Die Hard a Christmas movie?’ fence you find yourself on, the fact that cinemas up and down the country now allocate screens to the 1989 Bruce Willis-starring action film at this time of year some 30-odd years on would suggest that, actually, many people believe it is. Listen, I don’t make the rules, I simply follow them. Because despite all the violence, the explosions, the hostage situations, and the yippee-ki-yay-ing, the simple fact that John McLane’s debut gun-toting adventure unfolds on Christmas Eve, for many people, makes it a Christmas movie. The fact that the events of the original BioShock take place in the wake of a New Year’s Eve party places it in the same festive period, which, coupled with the fact that I used Irrational Games’ 2007 first-person shooter to get through a particularly difficult holiday season following my uncle’s suicide the following year, means I now view BioShock through the same tinsel-wrapped lens as many Christmas movie-lovers do Die Hard.

Tying BioShock to Christmas in overarching narrative terms may be a wee bit of a stretch, but in practice, revisiting Rapture now plays a huge part in my build up to the big day itself. My uncle sadly took his own life on May 12, 2008, whereafter I used video games as a means of escapism, to gain perspective and to press pause on what was an increasingly horrible reality for me at the time. I’m sure many of you have used video games in similar ways in the aftermath of loss, and BioShock was my own game of choice, as I found solace in smacking splicers upside the head with Jack’s red-painted drop-forged wrench, nullifying Big Daddies with the deadliest ADAM-infused superpowers, and taking down every last one of Rapture’s autocratic dictators with unwavering precision.

Admittedly, it takes a special game to entice me back after the credits roll, but I found myself in the familiar throes of the shooter once again in late December that same year, experimenting with new Gene Tonic and Plasmid combinations; again revelling in the path of destruction I could blaze through the now iconic setting and the sense of achievement, and subsequent endorphin-rush, toppling the likes of Peach Wilkins, Sander Cohen and, of course, Andrew Ryan could afford.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but BioShock was inadvertently marking the first step on my own mental health journey, which has since led to me being diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder – afflictions levied by the brutal nature of my uncle’s passing, so say the doctors and mental health professionals I’ve since sought the services of in the intervening years. While storming the dimly-lit corridors of Point Prometheus and the sprawling thoroughfares of Apollo Square, I wasn’t fully-aware that I was distancing myself from the grief and looming shadows I’ve learned to live with since, but I’m forever grateful for the respite they were able to provide at a time when I wasn’t ready to face the darkness head-on.

These are strange memories for me, because while I associate playing BioShock at Christmas time in 2008 with my uncle’s death, something I’d naturally prefer not to think about at any given time, they also remind me of my uncle himself. It’s now been well over a decade since my uncle passed away, and yet returning to the watery depths of Rapture ignites a sense of connection in me that perusing old photographs and recalling old family stories that involve my uncle does not. Playing single-player video games can be a very solitary, pensive and personal experience, which is why BioShock has since played an integral role in my build-up-to-Christmas ritual, with me nipping back into random old save files for short bursts at a time – in the same way many of us watch Elf, Love Actually or, if you’re so inclined, Die Hard at various points in December.

For me, it’s a comfort thing, and I encourage you to do the same: to ignore your pile of shame and to play something that makes you happy, brings you joy, or makes you feel safe over this Christmas period. Is BioShock a Christmas video game? Probably not, but it’ll always have a special place in my own preparations. Now, before you go, I’d like you all to do something for me – a Christmas wish, if you will. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Re-read this article and jot down all the letters that are in bold throughout the copy below the opening paragraph. Read what you’ve written down, and would you kindly have a nice, safe and self-caring festive season.

 


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

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Safe Space Podcast in 2021: Wrapped & Reflected

Today feels like a good day to sum up our Safe Space Podcast in 2021! The Safe Space Pod discusses the games industry and the link between games and mental health through hosting a variety of wonderful guests. Let’s look at what we covered so far, shall we? 

To kick the podcast off, we wanted to introduce our listeners to the Safe In Our World team, the aims and mission of the charity and some insight into why we’re passionate about the conversation surrounding mental health within the games industry and beyond.  Favourite games were discussed, our roles within the charity were explained, and the purpose of the podcast was unveiled. 

Episode 2 was a wonderful discussion with Ambassador Mxiety on her work in broadening the conversation around mental health on Twitch, and the impact of sharing our own experiences and struggles in bringing communities together.

We were joined by the brilliant Robin Gray for Episode 3, where we explored LGBTQ+ representation in video games, the LGBTQ+ struggles that are faced in the industry, and a host of useful resources and support groups that are making change happen.

In Episode 4, we spoke to Charity enthusiast and Patron Hannah Rutherford (Lomadia) on her incredible achievements in fundraising on Twitch. We may or may not have discussed some early Mario quests, shouty cats and the struggles that content creators face on a daily basis.

In Episode 5, we were joined by Raccine Malcolm to talk about the importance of embedding DEI and representation within the games industry, as well as our favourite mental health related titles.

Episode 6 saw Rosie chat with Shahid Ahmad about Code is Just. Shahid discusses how he first entered the world of game development and the struggles that he has faced on the journey; such as bullying, racism, illness and poverty.

And last but not least, our latest episode, Episode 7 with Adam Clarke! We talk about his experience as a carer for his sister and her passion for games. We cover Hot Fuzz, Irish accents and our most impactful games over the years.

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Wii Fit, Irish Accents and Caring for a Loved One with Adam Clarke (Safe Space Podcast Season 1 Episode 7)

In this episode of Safe Space, Rosie is joined by Adam Clarke from Game If You Are!

We talk about Adam’s personal reasons for getting into the games industry, which include talking about his experience as a carer for his sister and her passion for games. We cover Hot Fuzz and the accuracy of the levels of Irish accents within Adam’s world, which is surprisingly similar.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Safe Space podcast without discussing games themselves, would it? Adam takes us through his most impactful games over the years, and the implementation of creating real choices for players to pave their own paths in games such as The Walking Dead and Disco Elysium.

 

You can find Adam here on Twitter.

Follow the Safe In Our World Podcast here on Twitter for clips, updates and guest interactions!

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Safe In Our World Is Hiring New Trustees

A fantastic opportunity has come up at Safe in Our World for new Trustees to join our Board.

See our Job Role Description here.

To complement our current board members, we are particularly interested in hearing from people with skills and experience in the following areas: 

  • Fundraising
  • Content Creation
  • Charity Finance
  • Charity Legal/Constitution   

However, these skills/experience are not essential in order to apply as we are keen to hear from a wide range of candidates and find out what each individual can offer. Previous Trustee experience is welcome but not necessary. 

The closing date is Friday 21st January 2022.

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Code is Just with Shahid Ahmad (Safe Space Podcast Season 1 Episode 6)

In this episode of Safe Space, Rosie is joined by Shahid Kamal Ahmad for a fantastic discussion covering Code Is Just, imposter syndrome, game development and personal growth. We go from games industry history to jeopardising relationships in Monopoly, and it’s worth the ride. Shahid is in his 40th year of working in the games industry, and discusses how he first entered the world of game development and the struggles that he has faced on the journey; such as bullying, racism, illness and poverty.


Links Mentioned in the Episode: 
Episode 6 of the Safe Space Podcast with Shahid Ahmad

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Safe In Our World Celebrates 2nd Anniversary As New Initiatives Drive Progress Towards Helping Millions Worldwide

On World Mental Health Day 2021, Safe In Our World officially celebrates it’s 2nd anniversary!

From expanding the initial target of training 50 community managers to delivering mental health first aid training to nearly 200 community managers globally by the end of 2021, funded by Jingle Jam 2020, every initiative undertaken by the charity now has room to expand and reach more people than ever before. And with 80+ studios, publishers and developers signed up as Level Up Partners, committed to positive change within the industry and within their own businesses, a bespoke partner hub was delivered in the second half of 2021; delivering more information, training, and resources to more employees than ever. In addition, in May 2021 at the height of the last Covid-19 lockdown, the charity launched the Safer Together Discord channel, including a forum for community managers, aimed at bringing the video games community closer together.

We’re celebrating through an epic giveaway, courtesy of our wonderful Level Up Partners! Click here to enter.

“We are enormously proud of the work our fantastic team and a long list of supporters, from Ambassadors to Trustees, have achieved in the last year.” Said Leo Zullo, Co-founder and Chair of Safe In Our World. “We’ve gone from a Trustee-led organisation to a charity with multiple employees and initiatives that make a huge difference in the lives of so many. This was always the plan, and we would like to thank the community, industry, and all those involved directly for their hard work, commitment and drive to deliver exceptional programs and real-world impact on behalf of Safe In Our World.”

See the full statement from the Chair here.

Safe In Our World is pleased to invite the videogames community to celebrate these milestones together, both on the official website, as well as via social channels and the Safer Together Discord.

In the two years since Safe In Our World formed, the charity has united the industry with its campaign for the removal of stigma around mental health and ensure gamers and teams can find the right support. Over 80 of the biggest gaming companies having joined to forward the charities mission ongoing activities.

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My.Games Launch Mental Health Survey with Safe In Our World

Following our recent partnership announcement with My.Games, we’re delighted to have launched a mental health survey to gather more information on gamers across the world.

Through both My.Games in-game mobile opportunities, and through this link you can access and take part in the survey to support mental health awareness and understand more about how those within games feel about games and mental health connections.

We hope that that we reach players across the world to grow our understanding of mental health in the industry and within players to be able to tailor support accordingly, and support everyone in the best way we can.

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Sightseeing in Spider-Man: how ditching web-slinging for walking photography saved my mental health during lockdown by Joe Donnelly

I crane my neck and stare in awe at the art deco skyscraper before me, 102 stories of limestone and granite towering over the busy New York City streets below. I’ve passed this building countless times before, granted, but from this angle – at ground-level, rubbing shoulders with thousands of pre-occupied pedestrians – there’s something so humbling about basking in its shadow.

Two streets over, I sense an armed robbery in progress but I ignore it. It’s my day off, I think to myself, before leaving this one to the boys and girls in blue. What I do instead is pull out my camera, take a snapshot and the read the following message as it flashes across my screen:

LANDMARK DISCOVERED 100 XP
Empire State Building
Midtown

For me, the in-game photography suite in Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man is second to none, making full use of its gorgeous scaled-down slant on the Big Apple. Since its PlayStation 4 release on September 18, 2018, and its Remastered iteration on PlayStation 5 in November last year, players have wowed with amateur galleries of Marvel’s favourite web-slinger perched upon the lightning rod of the Chrysler Building, dangling from the apex of the Washington Square Arch, and zipping around the sun-kissed Manhattan skyline, to name but a few of the game’s most commonly snapped photo-ops.

Throw the superhero caper’s comic book combat and high-altitude traversal into the mix and you have something special – to the point where there are few things more satisfying than capturing one of the eye watering beauty spots outlined above. Or a perfect slow motion roundhouse kick just as your foot connects with the jaw a faceless Kingpin goon. Or ticking off another of the game’s extensive list of ‘Landmark’ locations – a mix of real-world and fantastical sights, alike such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Wakanda Embassy and the Avengers Tower – before slapping on a hashtag and sharing the scene on social media.

With so much to see and do the scope for replayability in Spider-Man is huge, which is why it quickly became one of my favourite go-to games during the last year and-a-half of quarantine amid the ongoing global pandemic. Like so many people during the longest stretches of lockdown, my mental health suffered. On my darkest days, while struggling with the isolation of the “new normal”, I became seriously excited at the mere thought of visiting this virtual version of Manhattan as a break from an increasingly uncertain reality.

And it was during these process that I fell in love with a whole new way of playing. Equipped with only a camera, I set about completing the game’s ‘Landmark’ challenges exclusively on foot, taking snaps of the city’s most popular sights while soaking in its atmosphere at ground level – something often missed while traversing above.

Before unlocking fast-travel, swinging from building to building is the fastest way to get around in Spider-Man’s urban sandbox, so much so that it’s easy to forget the sprawling world below. During lockdown, at a time when holidays and real world exploration became impossible overnight, I delighted in exploring Spider-Man’s game world at a thoughtful pace, in essence guiding Peter Parker through an unorthodox, non-combative walking simulator, paying no mind to thwarting Doc Octopus in Story Mode or the dynamic crime set-pieces unfolding all around in Free Roam.

I’ve always loved the therapeutic elements of walking simulators – games such as Dear Esther, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Firewatch – whose expertly-paced narratives promote mindfulness and calmness; and I’ve always enjoyed playing games in entirely different ways as primarily intended, such as the real-world-aping properties which underpin Grand Theft Auto 5’s role-play scene.

Playing Spider-Man as a walking photography simulator, then, is hardly how Insomniac intended its larger than life action adventure game to played, but I nevertheless found myself enjoying it most while wandering around the streets of a world so rich in atmosphere, character and life as I played tourist in a digital city that never sleeps.

On the evening of Sunday, March 22, 2020, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston addressed the nation on the telly and told us the country would enter lockdown the following day. If you were able to work from home, you were advised to do so. We were told to limit contact with others, to avoid cuddling and to wash our hands thoroughly while singing Happy Birthday. We were told to steer clear of public transport, and we were told to limit outside exercise to just one hour per day.

It was rubbish. But I had New York. I had Peter Parker, a camera, the Chrysler, the Flat Iron, Central Park and St Patrick’s Cathedral. I had the Empire State Building and the huge shadow it cast deep into the hustle and bustle of this make believe Fifth Avenue. I had a world whose rules remained the same when the real world around us was thrown into chaos.

If your mental health has suffered in the last 18 months, I hope that you’ve found the strength to talk to someone – a friend, a relative, a mental health professional or maybe even all three. If you’re not quite there yet, or maybe just want to lose yourself in a video game for a little while, I can’t recommend grabbing a camera, stepping out in your favourite Spidey suit and hitting the road on foot enough. 


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

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MY.GAMES announces partnership with video games mental health charity Safe In Our World

The partnership will support a series of initiatives to create awareness for the charity and help gamers and game developers around the world access important mental health resources.

Global gaming brand MY.GAMES is delighted to announce that it is extending its mental health awareness initiative through a new partnership beginning today with Safe In Our World, the video games mental health charity.

After the charity’s successful fundraising drive Safer Together, during May’s Mental Health Awareness month, MY.GAMES was keen to pitch in to help the charity with its long-term objective; eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health to make it a natural topic of discussion and to promote the dialogue surrounding mental health so people are not afraid to reach out for help if they need to. 

Starting today, MY.GAMES is running a global advertising campaign across its mobile titles to create awareness for the charity and help gamers and game developers around the world access important mental health resources.

Leo Zullo, Chair and Trustee of Safe In Our World commented:  “The video games industry creates worlds for huge numbers of vulnerable people, and it is our duty to help and support them. We can reach them and share this message if we work together; and together, we can actually make a difference. Safe In Our World is the first step in these efforts, and we’re delighted with the response within the industry and from our partners, such as MY.GAMES, and individuals who are joining this initiative.”

Elena Grigoryan, CMO at MY.GAMES added: “Mental Health awareness is an important part of the MY.GAMES strategy for creating a safe and comfortable environment for everyone who loves games within our communities. We are glad to be supporting Safe In Our World’s activities and the important work the charity is doing. We want to help in any way we can to contribute to strengthening the knowledge around the subject of mental health and work together to open a dialogue around these topics – creating a safe space for people to reach out.”

Working hand in hand with companies promoting the conversation around mental health has been part of MY.GAMES mission for several years, particularly amid the global pandemic. This has included a study with the IDGA and Fair Play Alliance conducted in 2020 assessing how aware gamers are about mental health, and how often they experience problems related to it.  After the success of this initiative, MY.GAMES will also be facilitating a new anonymous research survey beginning in July to help Safe In Our World gather important information and data to help with their mission. Other aspects of the partnership will be announced soon.

CEO of Safe in our World, Dr. Gina Jackson OBE concluded by saying: “The main goal of Safe In Our World is to create and foster worldwide mental health awareness within the video game industry and beyond; to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, to make it a natural topic of discussion, and to promote the dialogue surrounding mental health so people are not afraid to reach out for help if they need it. We feel that partnerships like these will be a step towards achieving this goal for the people within our games communities.”

 

 

 

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Official Safe In Our World Merchandise

We have launched our official Safe In Our World merchandise in partnership with Seven Squared!

You can now support the charity through purchases of our classic line of merch, including t-shirts and hoodies in various brand colours. Click here to see the Safe In Our World Collection.

Seven Squared support Safe In Our World through various Charity Edition Tees on their website, which feature classic retrogaming memories – to see the full collection that support Safe In Our World, click here.

 

 

We’ll be expanding the collection when we can, so keep an eye out for some fun additions!

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Gina Jackson OBE Joins Safe In Our World As New CEO

We are pleased to announce Dr. Gina Jackson OBE has joined the charity as CEO.

Dr. Gina Jackson OBE is a Video Games Industry pioneer, becoming an OBE in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours, she was a recent recipient of the MCV/Develop Women in Games award for her outstanding contribution. Gina began her career in games development in 1992 and has worked for developers, publishers, and distributors covering console, PC, and mobile games. Most recently Development Director at Sold Out, Gina will continue her association with GamesAid, stepping down as Vice-Chair but continuing as a trustee, she remains on the board at NextGen Skills Academy, Visiting Professor in Games Industry and Business at Norwich University of the Arts and acts as an advisor to several games developers.

“Gina has been a key individual in the establishment of Safe In Our World, serving as a Trustee and lending her invaluable advice as the charity has grown.” Said Leo Zullo, Co-founder and Chair of Safe In Our World. “The Charity is at a level now where we needed to bring in the right expertise to lead Safe In Our World into the years ahead. After a hard year of lockdowns and COVID-19, the need to ensure our players and teams can find support is larger than ever. With our continued momentum, the Board of Trustees and I are delighted and thrilled to be able to appoint Gina and look forward to a new chapter in the Safe In Our World journey.”

Dr. Gina Jackson OBE, commented, “I am absolutely honoured to be able to take up the position of CEO for this incredible charity. Whilst taking our first steps it was apparent that our goals to eliminate the stigma about mental health and to promote the dialogue surrounding mental health has resonated with both gamers and those who work in the industry.” She continued, “From the companies engaging with the level up programme who are transforming workplaces to support wellbeing to the community manager mental health training, it is clear these are initiatives that are being welcomed by industry.

The feedback we have been getting from our Safer Together discord server demonstrates the power and support that a positive online community can bring and the generosity of those who participated and donated during our May fundraiser continues to inspire us to provide resources, training and tell people’s stories so we can all feel empowered to talk about our mental health and seek support whenever we need or want it.”

Dr. Gina Jackson OBE begins her role with immediate effect.

In the two years since Safe In Our World formed, the charity has united the industry with its campaign for the removal of stigma around mental health and ensure gamers and teams can find the right support. Over 50 of the biggest gaming companies having joined already, including 505 Games, Mediatonic Games, Sega Europe and The Embracer Group, the charities mission continues with ongoing activities, including free training for Community Managers, signposting for support and upcoming Safer Together Campaign in May.


For more information, and to download press assets, please visit:

Safe In Our World https://safeinourworld.org/press-centre/

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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

Game Changer: How embracing the new in videogames can help us adapt to real-world changes by Ian Collen

We’re often told that change is a good thing, whether that’s in videogames or in real life.

New is fresh and exciting, and any kind of break from the same-old should be embraced with enthusiasm. However, change can also be intimidating and stressful, with many of us finding comfort or a sense of control in sticking to those old routines; happier with repetition and familiarity rather than having to adapt to something new and often beyond our control.

In gaming it’s why people will demand new and improved features for a sequel, but then complain when the new game isn’t quite the same as the original. Admittedly, shooting zombies or aliens or whatever your videogame of choice might be doesn’t necessarily compare directly with those issues happening in your everyday life, but there are many similarities that can echo the fact that while change can be difficult, a little patience and perseverance can go a long way.

In some ways, even booting up a new game for the first time is a rather daunting change. Having spent days, weeks or even months learning every last subtle nuance of one title, you’ll now find yourself sitting in a tutorial for a whole new experience. That reassurance of knowing all the right moves, all the tricks, having the best equipment and never really having to worry about doing the wrong thing through anything other than an honest mistake is gone – and in just about any walk of life, that can be a cause for some trepidation or anxiety.

Sure, many of the parameters might be familiar and you hardly need a reminder of where the jump or crouch buttons might be, but there’s still a wealth of information to figure out, such as how your special abilities work, how to combine those magic potions or one of a hundred other little things. Of course, you would have been in a similar position when you started that last game, and that turned out pretty well – so you can at least take comfort in the process and appreciate that the new will soon become the norm.

Of course, life doesn’t always give you a great deal of choice in the matter (or a handy tutorial for that matter) and enforcing change is also a trick videogame developers can employ to keep you on your toes. Many RPGs or action titles will use it early on, letting you start the game fully maxed out with a raft of awesome abilities, only to then strip them away completely and leave you faced with levelling up from scratch – but having caught a glimpse into what you’ll ultimately become over the next 10-20 hours. Conversely this can also happen mid-game, with the likes of The Last of Us delivering an unforgettable (and un-put-downable) twist by suddenly shifting gameplay from the tough gun-toting hero to the preyed upon girl he was protecting.

This could also apply to origins stories, such as the Tomb Raider reboot, where you know the super-heroine she’ll become, and so getting to oversee that transition from powerless to powerful can be rewarding because you have that awareness and anticipation of how things will end up. It’s not always that clear-cut in real life, of course, but focusing on the end game and accepting that there is a certain amount of ‘levelling up’ to be done to get there, one small upgrade at a time, can help.

Videogames also use change as an optional accessory to further broaden their appeal or, more often, their lifespan. Titles such as Borderlands and Destiny will offer multiple characters, each with different abilities and skill trees to explore that effectively require rebuilding from scratch – albeit in a very familiar environment from your previous playthroughs. Again, these changes come with a sense of anticipation because you’ve done it already with a previous character, even if there’s no way of knowing if this new character is going to better or worse than before. However, there is some comfort to be found in the repeatable format – and ideally plenty of fun to be had in seeing how the new hero or heroine compares. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to your original character and appreciate their super-bad-ass prowess even more.

There are some games that could be seen as more direct ways of embracing and appreciating change. The excellent original season of Life is Strange not only deals with a young girl coming to terms with things that have changed in her home town as she returns after several years away, but the core gameplay mechanic also gives you the power to rewind time and make definitive decisions based on how you see events play out in differing ways. Gone Home is another great example that offers more of a ‘hands-off’ storyline as you simply explore your childhood home and piece together various events that have affected the lives of your parents and younger sister since you moved out.

It’s not necessarily that there are vital life lessons on display that we can all learn from, more of an appreciation that change can affect people in many different ways – and there’s not always a right or a wrong way to deal with it. It’s also worth bearing in mind how some of these situations can seem incredibly burdensome at the time but yet eventually become just another acceptable piece of the bigger picture. Some of those decisions in Life is Strange, for example, can be incredibly difficult to make, but ultimately their impact on the final narrative can be far more arbitrary than many of us had twisted ourselves into knots over.

In some ways it could be compared to moving house – one of life’s most demanding changes. Much like getting used to a certain character or style in a videogame, you get comfortable and feel confident in your old home because you know where everything is and how it works; where the fuse box is, how to fix the leaky sink, the best local takeaway and so on. Having to find a new home and learn all-new answers to those same questions can seem like a lot to take in, but eventually you will get there; you’ll track down the fuse box, acquaint yourself with the pipes under the sink and find a new and maybe even better local takeaway!

Change isn’t always a good thing in the same way that sequels aren’t always better than the original, but there will always be a demand for something ‘new and improved’ and sometimes we have to break out of our comfort zones to find out if that plan succeeds. Embracing change isn’t always easy, but being able to move forwards while accepting that there may be a few nervy steps as new skills are learned and old habits brushed aside, can go a long way. After all, every game you’ve ever played was new once, and we don’t doubt that you’ve gotten pretty good at more than a few over the years…


 

Ian Collen is a writer and editor with more than 20 years experience – with well over half of that spent working in videogames. He’s worked on the likes of XBM, 360 Gamer (later known as One Gamer), and the innovative digital publication, Gamer Interactive. He also learned more about drones than he thought possible as editor of the self-explanatory Drone Magazine and is currently working as a freelancer.

 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

How to Combat Loneliness in a Sea of Solitude by Georgie Peru

Loneliness is a personal feeling, so everyone’s experience of loneliness will differ. Being alone doesn’t by proxy make you lonely; loneliness breeds from an emotional state of loss, whether that be loss of social contact, loss of a person, or feeling lost within yourself. 

Ironically, knowing that others in the big wide world that surrounds us are too feeling lonely, brings a sense of connection and togetherness. Exploring themes relating to loneliness and indulging in such scenarios in the form of video games can bring an overwhelming sense of relief. Relief that all of our journeys somehow coincide and offer hope, through understanding mental health in a relatable way and finding the light, even in the darkest of moments.

Sea of Solitude is a very personal game, developed by Jo-Mei Games, which takes you on a journey of loneliness. You play as a young woman called Kay; covered in black tendrils with eyes burning red like the sun, you have a deep feeling of loss, and that’s the thing, you are lost. Kay hits the nail on the head early on by saying “I’m still trying to piece it together. What is wrong with me? Where am I?”. 

It’s a very poignant position to be in; controlling a character whose deep-set loneliness has affected her physical appearance. Unraveling the narrative, you and Kay learn how the gnarly monsters in Sea of Solitude connect to people in her life or as manifestations of her internal battle of emotions that can be interpreted by the player.

As Kay, herself, is a monster, she is in a unique position where she can talk to other monsters. It’s soon revealed that the monsters in Sea of Solitude are experiencing their own issues. Being able to relate to someone (or something) else who is also going through the same struggles presents a sense of understanding, sharing pain to bridge a connection.

Just like in “real-life”, the monsters in the game start to regain parts of their humanity by opening up and talking about their pain. This kind of narrative displays the daily struggles of mental health and the realisation of catharsis when a person is able to open up about their pain of loneliness by talking to others and understanding that other people are going through a similar experience.

Cornelia Geppert, Creative Director and Writer of Sea of Solitude sends a message that shared pain can reduce loneliness. Geppert herself was experiencing one of the “loneliest points” of her life when she had the idea of the game. Sea of Solitude constantly reminds us that sharing our internal struggles and pain with others, or finding something we can relate to, can bring a sense of peace and serenity – where it be loneliness, depression, anxiety, or something else.

Loneliness can make you feel like you’re drowning, especially when you’re hit with obstacle after obstacle, and this is something else Sea of Solitude touches upon. Playing as Kay, it’s very much drummed into the character and the player that “if you don’t succeed, try, try again”. If you’re unable to overcome an obstacle, Kay stands back up a few seconds before the point she failed, allowing you to easily try again without going through more pain and suffering.

There will always be bumps in the road, but the beauty of what Sea of Solitude teaches us is that everything can be overcome, as long as you keep trying at your own pace. All you can do is try, and eventually, you will succeed. Whilst Sea of Solitude is a game about loneliness, it shows us that loneliness and other mental health issues can be combatted by facing them head-on; by relating to other people, or scenarios that allow us to share a mutual pain. It shows us that we are even more connected than we ever thought we were.

Yes, there will be times where we feel like we’re drowning, and just as we start to paddle and keep our heads above water, our boat capsizes again and again. But above all, the darkness that loneliness brings will always shed light – there is always hope that we can uncover in metaphors, in games, and in life.


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.

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

An Interview With Joe Donnelly, Author of Checkpoint

We were delighted to interview Joe Donnelly, who is the author of Checkpoint, which explores how video games can contribute positively to our mental health through personal journeys, discussions and interviews. Safe In Our World was able to be a part of Checkpoint, through an interview between Joe and Leo Zullo, our Co-Founder and Chairperson.

The Interview

 

The book begins by telling the story about your uncle, Jim. Do you have any words on how to cope with loss, for readers who might be suffering the same thing?

This is sort of stating the obvious, but loss is such a personal and idiosyncratic experience, so I think the first piece of advice I could ever offer anyone is: do not compare yourself with anyone else. Your feelings are your feelings, which is something worth remembering and reminding yourself of in the wake of a loved one’s passing. I’ve lost a few loved ones in my life, but the nature of my uncle Jim’s is the hardest I’ve faced. With the virtue of hindsight, I’d say: know that it’s okay for things not to make sense, especially in the early stages of the grieving process. Suicide is so confusing and in its aftermath it’s natural to consider the ‘what if’ elements – what if they’d spoken out, what if I could have done more, what if X, Y and Z had or hadn’t happened etc. Let yourself have these thoughts, process them, don’t feel guilty about having them, but try not to obsess over them as doing so can be unhealthy long term. Talking to those around you is key in coping with loss, letting people know where your head is at, and what you might do to overcome your lows whenever you’re ready to do so. Disregard any notions of British stiff upper-lip-ness and get talking – speaking from experience, keeping regular dialogues with family and friends helped me so, so much.


Within the book, you explore the mechanics of permadeaths in games, and whether these can broaden our perception of loss within real life. Do you feel as though games have broadened your perception of permanence? How else do you think game mechanics can teach us about real-life scenarios and obstacles?

Games have absolutely broadened my perception of permanence, and not just from games which explicitly tackle themes of mental health and mental illness – such as Actual Sunlight (Will O’Neill) which deals with permanence as it relates to suicidal thoughts; Neverending Nightmares which explores permanence through the lens of the developer’s (Matt Gilgenbach) OCD; and Papo & Yo which tackles alcoholism and the enduring nature of addiction, to name but a few. Genre games which include permadeath – Darkest Dungeon, The Long Dark, Spelunky, XCOM 2 – force you to consider every move, every decision and every action, in the same way we do in real life. When writing Checkpoint I heard an analogy tied to both this and player agency that said: when we play games, we put ourselves into the player’s shoes. We don’t say Mario died, for example, we say I or we died. I think that can speak directly to our understanding of permanence and player agency both in-game and in the real world.


Your book, and a lot of other people have stressed the call for more research within the sphere of gaming and mental health. What questions would you be interested in exploring through research of this nature?

As outlined in Checkpoint, I’m by no means a mental health professional, but I’d like to see more studies on what we can learn about mental health through the lens of gaming. Be that from indie games which explore suicide, depression and anxiety on a more explicit level, to the potential benefits of socialising in games like Minecraft, GTA 5, Fortnite, Sea of Thieves and The Sims. I’d like to see more studies on how overcoming challenges and obstacles in games like Dark Souls can improve our sense of worth, and, looking back to question two, how permadeath games can help us appreciate permanence in reality more than we already do. There are a number of studies out there already which are scratching the surface on all of the above, but I’d love to see some real deep dives into the process, with more empirical data (as much as this is possible) and case studies relevant to games from different genres, with different mechanics and with varying budgets.


For the benefit of those who have not read Checkpoint, what made you decide to write a book on mental health and video games?

I decided to write Checkpoint as a means of telling my own mental health journey following my uncle’s suicide in 2008. At the time, I was working as a plumber and gasfitter, and, as a lifelong gamer, I threw myself into my hobby as a means of escaping the harshness of the reality around me at the time. As a result of my uncle’s death, my own mental health spiralled and, after travelling to Australia for a couple of years, I returned to find my mental health at its worst. Between times, I pursued a degree in journalism, and specialised in writing about video games for a number of mainstream and specialist publications, and ultimately wrote a monthly column on games and mental health for VICE. During this time, I discovered a number of games which tackled themes of mental health head-on (including the ones noted above), and, through playing them, sought professional help for my own state of mind. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and have been on a course of daily medication for the last several years. After my VICE work was discontinued, I felt I had more to say about games, mental health, my own journey and the integral role video games played throughout. I pitched my idea for a narrative nonfiction memoir to Edinburgh-based publisher 404 Ink, and I was delighted when they agreed to take me on.


There are multiple testaments from different people, each with their own compelling stories behind how video games have helped their mental health. Do you feel there is a sense of community around this shared experience?

Definitely, and I think that’s the essence of Checkpoint: gaming is so often a shared experience, and the same should apply to mental health discourse. Before writing the book, I was very clear that I wanted to include stories from other players and gaming enthusiasts, and had envisioned a single chapter dedicated to their tales. It was, however, my publisher 404 Ink who suggested we intersperse the stories throughout, and I’m so glad they did – I think it works really well in not only breaking up my narrative but also highlighting how common and relatable mental health issues are, both big and small. I’ve had some lovely and encouraging feedback since publication, including shared stories, which again, I believe, underscores the importance of the book’s message.


What is the main take-home that you’d want your readers to come away with after reading Checkpoint?

Further to question four, I wanted to tell a story which was relatable. Again, everyone’s mental health journey is unique to them, but there was always going to be similarities or parts which overlap. I wanted to illustrate the power of video games as a storytelling tool and how the interactive and persuasive nature of the medium leaves it uniquely placed to inform and educate. The take home message, then, isn’t necessarily about mental health per se, it’s about broadening our understanding of video games and their place in important discussions.

 

You can find Joe Donnelly on Twitter 

You can purchase Checkpoint at 404Ink

Press Kit for Checkpoint

Skills utilised:
News

Hub World – Change

Hub World – Change (March)

Welcome back to Hub World!

This month, at Safe In Our World we have been thinking about change. Change can be a terrifying prospect – of course, nothing stays the same and in essence there are consistent, incremental changes as we progress through life. These are more ‘natural’ changes, that we are generally equipped to process over time. The tougher side of this is when you are directly staring down the barrel of change that’s either there by choice or, sometimes, forced upon us. These changes can also come in quick succession, often without adequate time to process each beat, and your current situation or societal pressures mean that maybe you won’t (or can’t) take the time to do so.

As someone who spent a decade ‘surviving’ and carrying immense burdens of responsibility, it has become overwhelmingly apparent how dangerous it is to not process change – positive, negative, and everything in-between. Without giving yourself the space, it all clogs up the brain-drain until it has no room left to function at its full potential.

As we head towards Easter, a time of new beginnings and new life, try and take some time for you – you don’t have to do anything special to fill that time, but remove external distractions and sit in the moment. If you feel sad, let it be so – let your mind and body process whatever it needs to.

Let’s take a look at how members of the Safe In Our World community feel about change and how they approach it in their daily lives!

Sarah Sorrell

I always used to fear change as it took me out of my comfort zone but I have learnt to stop worrying about it, try to be open to it and see it as a positive. Especially in a work related situation it may be an opportunity to learn a new skill or meet new people which can be very rewarding. I’ve found the more prepared and willing I am to just go with it, the less stressed I feel. And let’s face it, life would be pretty dull without any changes or new opportunities right?

Sarah Sorrell

Rosie Taylor

The most important thing I have learned to come to terms with when big changes come around, is that there’s no “right” way to react to it. Whilst there are healthier ways to cope than others, punishing yourself won’t change anything; it’ll just make you feel guilty. My best advice would be to make small changes each day to improve even just one thing, to see change in a positive light and go with the flow rather than fight against it. Celebrate the small victories, write them down, remember them and most importantly: share them with each other and celebrate each other. Lifting each other up even in the smallest of ways could not be more important right now.

Jake Smith 

I found that over the pandemic I was gaming socially with old friends again, life got so hectic that it was always hard to meet each other at times we were all home and able to play. I found myself connecting with old friends and making new ones along the way while managing to somehow break every game I get into, especially Red Dead Online, The Forest and Valheim. I believe that many wonderful memories have been created from these absolutely hilarious moments that I will never forget. Gaming has been a very good anchor over these very uncertain times and I feel I owe it a lot.

Amber Elphick

With running events for our gaming community, Switch Players Norwich, we had to change and adapt the way we entertain and communicate with our members. We had to go from doing regular, social, in person events to solely focusing on online. 

Thankfully our community has embraced the change, and even though we haven’t held an in person event in over a year, our online events are still thriving and our community has grown and flourished. We found that people were grateful that there was still a way to enjoy gaming together and that they didn’t feel isolated during the pandemic.

DJPaultjeD

In January 2020 I got word that the branch of the company I was working for, was shutting down. Bummer, I thought, but with the market as it was back then, I should have a new job in no time! The branch would close its doors on March 31st. The pandemic situation got real serious and close to home for everyone.
Where I thought it to be easy to find new work, companies issued a stop on hiring new people. I had no place to go. While looking for work, I started to teach myself how to code videogames, because that had always been a dream. I started off with some courses on freecodecamp and other tutorials to find a place to start. I found a Udemy course on game development with Unity. This was my first time ever working on an engine and learning C#.
I am nowhere near the level I want to be, but I took the first steps, and I feel damn proud about the changes I made.

Emma Withington is a freelance writer and PR account executive at Bastion who has worked on campaigns for a variety of titles, including Control and Final Fantasy XIV: Online.

She is currently spending time focusing on the wider community and how she can help others through her personal journey with mental health.

Twitter.

Skills utilised:
News

Safer Together: Safe In Our World Launches Community Focused Discord

We are delighted to be launching our very first public Discord server, Safer Together.

Looking to join Safer Together? Click here or go to discord.gg/safertogether

 

Safer Together will launch during the London Games Festival and continue beyond, with the purpose of providing a public platform for gamers and industry folk to connect, find players, discuss games, and be a safe space for all to talk or find resources.

“Opening up the mental health conversation further will also be a strand for the festival as it partners with games industry charity Safe In Our World on its new Safer Together Campaign.”

We’re excited to be a part of the Festival to show our support for diversity and innovation within the industry, and be able to launch such a timely campaign for so many who are looking for a safer space to connect with fellow gamers.

The Discord won’t be to talk exclusively about mental health, though it is welcomed as part of general conversation to continue to reduce stigma. The purpose of the Discord is to create a safe community where like-minded people can connect about video games and other hobbies.

We must also highlight that this server is not run by any medical staff or qualified mental health staff. We have a dedicated resources channel to support in signposting to professional support. If you need help you can follow this link that provides helplines from around the world.


About the London Games Festival

Games London has one mission: to make London the games capital of the world.

We do this with a year-round programme of support for local businesses, engagement with investors and funders via inbound and outbound trade missions, and delivery of the world’s biggest games festival.

Skills utilised:
News

Genetic Haemochromatosis & Music Escapism by Steven Coltart

Across 2016-2017, I worked as Audio Lead on ‘Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier’.  A massive personal undertaking, and a project I am still especially proud of for a number of reasons.

I was individually responsible for not only composing the soundtrack, but also the implementation of these assets within Unreal.  This allowed me to really shape the music across a large number of choice based pathways, using a bespoke UE4 system.  Additionally, for the majority of the project I was sound designer too (Calum Grant later joining me who played a huge part, an ex-student of mine – more to come on my role in education later).