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Stonewall: Pride Month 2022 Highlight

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

 

What is Stonewall?

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

 

When did it start?

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

 

What was Section 28?

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

What does ‘Stonewall’ mean?

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

 

What has Stonewall done?

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

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

Skills utilised:
News

How can community managers within the games industry practice self care?

Our Charity Manager, Sarah, recently spoke to GIBiz on the importance of mental health training within the games industry, especially for Community Managers.

Sarah Sorrell

So, how can community managers within the games industry practice self care, set boundaries, create psychologically safe work cultures and welcome imperfection?

Sarah dives into the fundamentals of why community managers seem to have the most endless remit of all within the games industry, and why mental health training course brings together key techniques in supporting yourself within this role. At the moment, we’re on our second round of training Community Managers free of charge in managing their mental health. You can read more about the course, and our achievements at this page.

There are many steps that people working within the industry can take, within the community-focused role, to help set effective boundaries, provide opportunities to learn, achieve balance and connect with others in the same situation, and it doesn’t just come down to the Community Manager to implement these changes.

Sarah talks about the importance of those in senior positions to support their Community Managers, and how setting the precedent of a healthy work life balance is imperative to fostering a safer workplace culture.

The evidence is that many organisations struggle to create and sustain a culture where people feel okay speaking truth to power — disagreeing with the boss can still carry negative consequences. Senior leaders need to step up and take genuine responsibility for creating cultures that empower diversity of opinion and ideas.

It’s also vital to become self-aware, with what might be causing your stress, change of mood, or even in decision-making. We must welcome imperfection to embrace what is it to be a person, rather than a robot, and by moving away from a perfectionist mindset, we can be kinder to ourselves as well.

If you’re interested in reading up more about the tips that CMs can take on board regarding their mental health, and how workplaces can support them, check out the rest of the article over at Games Industry Biz.

Read the GI Biz article here.

Skills utilised:
News

How Minecraft Helped Me to Combat Loneliness by Sky Tunley-Stainton

It was Christmas Day and I was 6,000km away from my partner and family. I loved my job and had made good friends while abroad, but it was very isolating to be away from my loved ones at a time that was so built around routine and togetherness.

I got a message from my partner to join our Minecraft server. We’d been spending time on the server together from afar, so I was excited to be able to see him and hang out for a little while. What I found when I logged in is honestly still to this day one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me.

2 minecraft characters sit on a sofa together

In front of me, in the center of our base, was an enormous spruce tree covered in coloured glass blocks and light sources. We weren’t far along on the server at the time, so it must have been pretty difficult to create something on that scale. Beneath the tree were several chests (which were, of course, re-skinned as gifts for the season as always) and an enormous gift made of wool blocks. My Christmas gift that year was a set of fully enchanted diamond armour and tools, and inside the wool gift were two Minecraft cats for me to tame and keep.

If anyone’s ever drawn a picture for you, written a poem, or produced anything creative for you, you’ll know how this gesture made me feel. Even years later it’s a memory I treasure and helped form my belief that games are so powerful when it comes to forming and maintaining relationships.

Last year, on our anniversary, it was my partner’s turn to be away for work. Each November we would usually watch a fireworks display together, but with him away in Scotland – and with Covid restrictions still in place – this was not going to be possible. Inspired by his thoughtfulness in previous years, I spent hours in Minecraft working out how to craft all the different types of firework rocket and setting up a (very rudimentary) redstone fireworks display. We logged in and, as the Minecraft sun set, we were able to watch the fireworks together as we always did.

This isn’t something unique to me, either: the game has been used for people all over the world to stay connected during what was perhaps the most isolating time of all of our lives. For just one other of many examples, The Warren Project ran a Minecraft server to connect young people during lockdown, helping them maintain friendships, and make new ones, from afar.

At some of my loneliest moments, Minecraft has helped me connect and share experiences, proving that games can be vital in the fight against loneliness.

Words by Sky Tunley-Stainton

Skills utilised:
News, Stories

Celebrating a year of being part of the Safe In Our World ‘Level Up Mental Health’ initiative with Sumo Group

In May 2021, Sumo Group partnered with Safe In Our World as part of its #LevelUpMentalHealth initiative.

Joining at this time reflected the commitment that Sumo had already made to supporting the mental health of its people. The Group had already begun to roll out a company-wide mental health support system and believed that making this pledge visible to all as part of an industry wide effort would further demonstrate its ongoing commitment to such an important area of health.

 

 

For Mental Health Awareness Week this week, Sumo Group takes a look at some of the changes made across its 16 studios over the past 12 months to support its people’s wellbeing.

From developing and delivering in-house mental health awareness training for managers, to surprising their teams with pick-me-ups in the post, Sumo Group have pulled together a variety of support for their employees to contribute to their wellbeing at work. (Read the full list of changes at the full piece below!)

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Sumo Group is rolling out its week-long mental health-focused activity around the topic of ‘Loneliness’ – offering time and space for reflection, conversation and action.

In addition to the above, the Group continues to provide access to mental health support, trained mental health first aiders across the business and a focus on wellbeing at regular points through the year on Dojo (the Groups award winning learning platform). Sumo Group has been being recognised in the UK Best Companies to Work For awards two years running – a direct reflection of the improvements made Group-wide following listening to and acting upon, valued feedback from its teams. Alongside it’s continued partnership with Safe in Our World, the Group continues to look for ways to enhance and improve the wellbeing of its people, ensuring they remain at the very centre of the Group’s values.

Read the full profile piece.

Read another profile piece from recent Level Up Partner Sock Monkey!

 

Skills utilised:
News

Safe In Our World Launches Crisis Hub

We have launched our new Crisis Hub, aimed at offering more targeted resources and support to those affected by crisis.

We want to make it as easy as we can to signpost people to useful resources, charities, and even games that we think could be of use during this turbulent time. Click to visit any of the resources below. We’ll be continuing to grow the content within the hub to provide as much support for those in need as possible.

How to support yourself and others who are indirectly affected by conflict

Verifying information and limiting news time

Charities supporting those affected by war

Safe in your virtual world: using video games as a healthy break from the news

Dealing with grief – advice and video games that explore themes of grief

How to talk to children during crisis

Crisis Support Lines for those dealing with war

Recognising PTSD

and PTSD Awareness – how to support yourself and others, information and signs

We’re incredibly grateful to Embracer, Koch Media and Form for supporting the creation of the Hub

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

Crisis Support Lines for people struggling with war

The events in Ukraine are deeply saddening and distressing. If you are currently in Ukraine, or know someone who is, please make sure they are aware of the following contact details for support around the clock.

 

Emergency Services

Call: 112

112 is the universal emergency number in all 27 EU member states, as well as other European countries. This number can be accessed by landline or mobile to reach the fire brigade, medical assistance and/or the police.

 

Lifeline Ukraine

Call: 7333

Website: https://lifelineukraine.com/

While originally established as a mental health support line for Ukraine Armed Forces veterans, Lifeline Ukraine is offering help to anyone in the country who needs it right now.

The Red Cross

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society

Call: 0800 331 800

Website: https://redcross.org.ua/

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society can be contacted from anywhere within the country for on-the-ground assistance – including, but not limited to: medical items, shelter material and essential deliveries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC is working to deliver urgent medical items to Kyiv hospitals, as well as food, water, and other essential items to the areas affected most. The ICRC can be contacted in the following locations 24/7.

 

Kyiv: 0800 300 155

Slavyansk: 0800 300 115

Severodonetsk: 0800 300 125

Mariupol: 0800 300 165

Donetsk: 0800 300 185

Luhansk: 0800 300 195

 

Migration Support

Safety advice for those leaving Ukraine is provided by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with hotlines available for a number of countries listed on the IOM website here.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides additional safety advice for those remaining in Ukraine and for those leaving – linked above and here.

 

Parental support for children

The Global Protection Cluster provides a help sheet for supporting children during bombing here.

 

Guidance and resources UK

The following resources can be access via the UK government website:

 

* (or call 0808 164 8810 free 24/7 from anywhere in the UK)

** 24-hour consular assistance helpline: +380 44 490 3660 (from Ukraine), +44 (0)1908 516666 (from the UK)

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

Safe In Our World Launches Crisis Hub

Today we have launched our new Crisis Hub, aimed at offering more targeted resources and support to those affected by crisis.

We want to make it as easy as we can to signpost people to useful resources, charities, and even games that we think could be of use during this turbulent time. Click ‘Read more’ to visit any of the resources below. We’ll be continuing to grow the content within the hub to provide as much support for those in need as possible.

How to support yourself and others who are indirectly affected by conflict

Verifying information and limiting news time

Charities supporting those affected by war

Safe in your virtual world: using video games as a healthy break from the news

Dealing with grief – advice and video games that explore themes of grief

How to talk to children during crisis

Crisis Support Lines for those dealing with war

Recognising PTSD

and PTSD Awareness – how to support yourself and others, information and signs

We’re incredibly grateful to Embracer, Koch Media and Form for supporting the creation of the Hub

Skills utilised:
News

How to support yourself and others who are indirectly affected by conflict

Accentuated by the ongoing global panic, the events that have unfolded in Ukraine over the last several weeks are shocking and upsetting, and experts agree feeling overwhelmed is a perfectly natural response.

For those directly affected by the current unrest in Eastern Europe, a number of crisis helplines are available to call free-of-charge, and we’ve gathered further resources on dealing with grief and PTSD awareness. For those sharing the distress of a nation from afar, the following information is designed to help you support yourself, your family and others indirectly affected by conflict.

We also spoke to the Samaritans (a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout Great Britain and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline) about their tips on how to support ourselves and each other through this turbulent time.

It’s worth saying first that as the people of Ukraine deal with war on their doorstep, it’s natural to experience feelings of guilt when you choose to switch off from the news. You may ask yourself, ‘how can we possibly take a step back when people in parts of Eastern Europe are fighting for their lives?’, but it’s important to accept that focusing on your own day-to-day life does not mean you’ve stopped caring about the lives and strife of others. Social media in 2022 is all-consuming, which means it’s especially important to govern screen time in times of crisis.

“Take a look at what push notifications you allow for each app,” UK and Ireland charity Samaritans tells us. “Turning off alerts to news and social media apps might help you to make a more conscious choice about when to open apps and give you more control over when you read news.”

 

Samaritans says that curating your social media feeds can help you have more control over what you actually read and see, therefore following trusted news sources is important – as is blocking or muting unhelpful and potentially untrustworthy accounts. On Twitter, for example, you can take this process one step further by choosing to filter or mute certain words, terms and hashtags in order to prevent certain content from appearing on your feed.

The idea of conflict is an unfamiliar one for many people living in European countries, which makes feelings of anxiety around what might be around the corner on a global scale perfectly normal. Mental health charity Mind stresses the fact that anxiety is a natural human response, one that’s experienced whenever we feel under any sort of potential threat. To this end, while often uncomfortable, feeling anxious may be how we’re expected to feel in trying circumstances such as what we’re seeing in Ukraine, and doesn’t necessarily mean someone is experiencing issues of mental health by feeling anxious in these instances.

Still, anxiety can be a very difficult thing to process – this information provided by Mind explains what anxiety and panic attacks are; and includes possible causes, and how you can access treatment and support for yourself and others. Should you wish to explore other, more hands-on avenues of support for Ukraine and other areas experiencing conflict – such as attending peaceful protests and donating to charity – this list of information and advice from Global Citizen provides 29 meaningful ways you can contribute and help out from afar.

No matter how you engage with the conflict in Ukraine, or any other conflict for that matter, being mindful of how much you consume can be crucial to your mental health and sense of wellbeing.

Samaritans adds: “Try setting a limit for your screen time, or allow yourself a set time for reading the news. Remember: If you’re struggling, you’re not on your own. Talk to your friends, family or someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Or, if you don’t feel like you have anyone you can turn to, our volunteers are here to listen if you need to talk it through.”

If you require support related to any of the above, or anything else related to the mental health and wellbeing of yourself or others, you can contact Samaritans FREE any time on 116 123. Samaritans can also be reached via email jo@samaritans.org with a response time of 24 hours.

For global resources, please visit our Find Help Page where you can find a wealth of helplines, support and information relating to where you are in the world.

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

Recognising PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that has existed for a very long time.

First diagnosed as a medical condition called Shell Shock during WW1 – when soldiers in the trenches were psychologically broken by the horrors of combat – and  renamed Battle Fatigue during WW2, the condition was examined in more detail following the Vietnam War.

Veterans returning home from combat in SE Asia suffered greatly from feelings of detachment, hostility, numbness and rage. Suicidal thoughts – along with actual deaths – were also common.

But because these mental wounds were with them after  they had returned home (rather than in the field)  and were, in many ways, invisible to the outside world, it took some time for the medical profession to appreciate that these mental injuries could be widespread and long lasting; in the 80s the condition was reclassified with a new, more medical name – PTSD.

The other learning that came about during this time was that PTSD isn’t just something that affects military personnel; nor is it only triggered by direct experiences of combat and warfare. Today it’s recognised as being prevalent in survivors of mass or school shootings, near death experiences (both accidental or due to ill health), victims of sexual assault, people caught up in terrorism and more.

But while the condition is widely known and spoken about, recognising PTSD in yourself can often be challenging; yet it can have adverse effects on a person if left untreated.

PTSD usually manifests itself a few weeks after the event; although for some people it can be months or even years. Delayed PTSD can be a tricky one as people will often put the problem down to something else (i.e. it can’t be that – it was months ago, I’m fine. Maybe it’s XYZ).

The National Health Service in Britain lists the following symptoms of PTSD (although this list is by no means exhaustive)

  • Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD. And can manifest itself as
    • flashbacks
    • nightmares
    • repetitive and distressing images or sensations
    • physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling
  • Avoidance and emotional numbing
  • Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’) which can in turn lead to
    • irritability
    • angry outbursts
    • sleeping problems (insomnia)
    • difficulty concentrating

Quite often, symptoms can be accompanied by other feelings or actions. Depression, anxiety and guilt are not uncommon. Drink and drug abuse can often accompany someone suffering from PTSD. Even feelings of physical pain or dizziness can occur.

Sometimes it can be hard to spot some of these feelings in yourself – especially when it comes to mood related issues – as, quite often, the change can be gradual and you may not even be aware of it yourself, but friends and family will and many will flag this to you. Your initial reaction may well be denial, anger, irritation etc; this is to be expected, but try and be mindful that they are doing this with the best of intentions and they may well be right. Take a step back, think about what’s been said and see if there’s truth in what they say.

Understanding and accepting there may be issues is, to coin a cliché, the first step on the road to recovery.

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

PTSD Awareness – how to support yourself and others, information and signs

After over two years of a still ongoing global pandemic, the events in Ukraine are a lot to take in, to process and to understand.

Feeling overwhelmed is a perfectly normal response to what we are seeing unfold in Eastern Europe – be that on the ground, or from a far on television and via social media – as is experiencing a range of emotions, not least frustration, sadness, helplessness and anger.

Those prone to depression or who have experienced trauma may find themselves struggling more than they otherwise might in less fraught circumstances, and while something like PTSD can take many different forms, being aware of what to look out for, and, crucially, where to turn for help is important.

PTSD is estimated to affect around one in every three people who have experienced traumatic events, and, while it can develop immediately after the experience, it can also occur weeks, months and sometimes even years later. Again, PTSD can manifest in many different ways, and can present physical, mental and emotional difficulties – with everything from trouble sleeping to unwanted memories, nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks among the most common challenges.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is considered one of the most effective ways to treat PTSD, but there are a number of practical, shorter-term suggestions that can help you and/or those around you when suffering from an episode or flashback.

 

What you can do

 

Breathe

It sounds simple, but focusing on your breathing is a great way of reducing stress and feelings of panic. Try taking a deep breath, counting to five, and exhaling.

Get comfortable

Comfortable surroundings can help us relax. If that’s pouring yourself a hot drink, wrapping up in a duvet blanket, or running yourself a nice hot bath, being able to switch off from the real world and focus on yourself is key.

Allow yourself to be distracted

If possible, a long walk, run or other fitness activity is a great way of clearing the mind. If that’s not your thing, settling in with a good book, movie, television show or video game might work better. Johnny Chiodini’s Low Batteries series (published on Eurogamer back in 2015) takes a wholesome and thoughtful look at video games and mental health, with this episode specifically exploring how PTSD is handled in games.

If you’re simply looking for relaxing games to preoccupy your mind, this best relaxing games list from GamesRadar includes everything from Journey to Dreams, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Abzu, Stardew Valley and much more.

Stay connected

Stay connected by spending time with the people who give you a sense of security, calmness and happiness, or those who best understand what you are feeling. Whether this is face-to-face or remotely via social media, instant messaging or online video games isn’t important – making connections and maintaining a sense of togetherness is. It’s worth noting that while social media can be a great way to achieve connectedness, if media exposure is impacting your wellbeing, limiting your screen time is equally important.

What friends and family can do

 

Listen

Listening isn’t just about making time for someone, it’s also about allowing them to be upset without judgement or pressure. Simply be there for someone without question.

Identify warning signs and learn triggers 

PTSD is so idiosyncratic, which makes understanding and identifying warning signs and learning triggers especially important – for both the person with PTSD and you. Are there conversations or surroundings that tend to trigger flashbacks? Being able to avoid these can be vital, and if that’s impossible, being able to prepare for them is just as important.

Respect personal space

While being able to listen is crucial, so too is respecting the space of someone who experiences PTSD. Always ask permission if you plan to touch the person, be sure not overcrowd and do what you can to avoid startling them.

Write a crisis plan

Crisis plans can help with all of the above. Mental health charity Mind has some great, easy to follow step-by-step crisis plan advice.

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

LGBTQ+ Representation In Games, Organisations and Support for Pride Month

Happy Pride Month everyone! 

We’re proud to spotlight a variety of different things for Pride month, including games with LGBTQ+ representation, organisations and charities doing brilliant work for the LGBTQ+ community, specific resources and helplines.


Support

We have a list of LGBTQ+ specific resources available at our Find Help page, or at our information page.

Albert Kennedy Trust – The Albert Kennedy Trust supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are homeless or living in a hostile environment.

LGBT Foundation – The LGBT Foundation provides advice, support and information for LGBT people via their helpline.

London Friend – A support group for LGBT mental health and wellbeing. They offer specific trans and intersex support.

MindOut – A LGBTQ+ dedicated mental health service. Phone – 01273 234839

TransUnite – TransUnite is a great resource which can help you find your nearest trans support group.

Stonewall – Service Stonewall is a leading LGBTQ+ charity which provides a helpline for any LGBTQ+ person seeking support. Phone – 0300 330 0630 – 10:00am – 10:00pm

Trevor Project – A charity providing dedicated support to LGBTQ+ under 25’s. Phone – 1-866-488-7386 – 24/7/365


Organisations, Groups and Charities

Out Making Games – Out Making Games (OMG) are here to connect and empower the LGBTQ+ community working in the games industry across the UK, by addressing and overcoming the barriers that exist for LGBTQ+ professionals in the industry, both by transforming policies and institutions, and by changing hearts and minds through education. OMG are a partner and friend of Safe In Our World, and we’re delighted to support each other.

Gayming Magazine – The Gayming Magazine is a global magazine for the LGBTQ+ video games community, with games features, news, reviews and events including Digi Pride 2021!

Ukie’s Raise The Game Pledge – #RaiseTheGame is designed to inspire meaningful, cultural and behavioural change in all games businesses, companies and organisations – whatever your size and wherever you are in your journey. We’re proud to work alongside Ukie and be a partner of this pledge.

Trans Lifeline – Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support for our community that’s been divested from police since day one. Run by and for trans people.

Peer2PeerLive – Peer2Peer.Live is an opt-in discoverability tool for marginalized streamers and viewers to find each other through robust identity-based tagging.

Represent Me – A not-for-profit helping marginalised communities through resources, training, and support. Represent Me also has a huge database detailing representation in games here where you are able to search by keywords for to find games based on multiple LGBTQ+ representation options.

LGBTQ+ Representation in Games

As part of Pride Month, we wanted to collate a wonderful list of games, stories, themes and characters that are representative of the LGBTQ+ community.

If you’re looking for a new game to play, it could be in the list below. Having characters to connect to, resonate with or be able to shape to be any identity is incredibly important. Below, we have collated different examples of existing LGBTQ+ representation across a variety of genres of games, and we’d love to hear your favourites too. 

Whilst there are a number of games that feature LGBTQ+ NPCs and protagonists, such as Borderlands, Persona, Overwatch and Valkeryie Chronicles (and lots more), we wanted to highlight a handful below!

If you’re looking for a specific representation and role that they play, Represent.Me as mentioned above is a fantastic place to start!


Coming Out Simulator

Coming Out Simulator 2014 is an interactive fiction video game made by Canadian developer Nicky Case. The semi-autobiographical game was released on 1 July 2014 as a submission for the Nar8 Game Jam. Inspired by real-life events, Coming Out Simulator 2014 is intended to help LGBT youth to understand their sexuality.

Joe Donnelly discussed Nicky Case’s other games which all deliver powerful messages.


The Last Of Us 1 and 2

The Last Of Us features Ellie’s love life which delves deep into her relationship with Dina. Lev identifies as Trans, and Bill and Frank in the first game were in a gay relationship.  


Life Is Strange 1 and 2 

Max identifies as bisexual, with the game featuring other characters within LGBTQ+ as-well. 


Mass Effect   

Mass Effect lets you romance any of the genders and also has LGBTQ+ characters.


Dragon Age 1, 2 and Inquisition

Dragon Age lets you romance any of the genders. It also features LBGTQ Characters.


Ace Attorney 

Jean Armstrong from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations is revealed to be a gay cis man who likes to perform non-passing drag. 


Baldurs Gate 1, 2 and expansions

Dorn II-Khan is Bisexual, Mishena is a Trans Woman.


Destiny

Osiris Saint-14 is gay, the game designer Robert Brooke wrote the two characters as a couple. Despite it being initially vague, in Destiny 2 there was a lot more detail released about their relationship. 


Divinity Original Sin 

Ifan Ben-Mezd, Red Prince, Lohse, Fane, Beast, Sebille and Butter present as Pansexual/Bisexual.  


Fable 1, 2 and 3 

Fable lets you marry, or get in a relationship with NPC townspeople of the same sex.  


Fallout Series

LGBTQ characters with advantages to choosing same sex relationships in New Vegas and other titles within the franchise.


Final Fantasy Series 

  

The game features a lot of LGBTQ+ representation. Final Fantasy 14 also has Gay Marriage.


Shadow Hearts Series

Gay characters with backstories.


The Sims 

The Sims lets you identify who you want to identify as.


The Walking Dead Telltale Series – Features characters that identify as LGBTQ+ 


Stardew Valley – LGBTQ+ you can romance and marry same sex characters.  


Assassins Creed Odyssey – You can romance same-sex characters.    

Skills utilised:
News

A Hero’s Guide To Gardening

A Hero’s Guide To Gardening puts you in the shoes of Noomi who sets off for her first summer at Camp Pitch Pine in where she hopes to become a heroic adventurer. When things don’t quite go to plan, Noomi will have to find the courage to take charge of three struggling botanists. To help them Noomi must get to know them and help solve each of the problems that plague the gardens.

Through A Hero’s Guide To Gardening players will learn about different expressions of emotion and learn strategies for coping with fear, anger, and sadness. Players will also learn about LGBTQ+ themes as well as learning literacy along the way in a wonderfully written and very beautiful interactive story game.

Skills utilised:
Games & apps

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

Safer Together: May Fundraiser 2021

We’re delighted to announce our Safer Together Fundraiser which will take place in May for Mental Health Month.

This Mental Health Month we’re encouraging everyone to talk. Whether it’s to a friend, colleague, or a professional, talking is the first step to getting support, and we believe we’re safer together. 

With that in mind, this March, we launched our first public Discord server: Safer Together, with the purpose of providing a public platform for gamers and industry folk to connect, find players for multiplayer games, discuss games, and be a safe community for all to talk or find resources. 

The Safer Together Fundraiser is looking to raise money for our future initiatives and continuing in our mission to eliminate stigma surrounding mental health within the video games industry and its communities, so that every player and employee feels safe to reach out for help. 

The fundraiser will span the whole month of May, with Safe In Our World All-Star Community streams every day from the 1st – 7th May.


Tiltify Campaign

We’ve now set up the event on Tiltify

If you’re looking to support us throughout the fundraiser and wish to register your own (solo or team) campaign to contribute to the event total, please follow this link to register with the event. 


Support

We’ve curated a list of ways that you could support us:

  • Donations – We are hugely appreciative of any support within the fundraiser itself. 
  • Fundraising – Within the Tiltify Campaign, you can register to create a fundraiser to contribute to main total, whether as part of a team or a solo campaign to support #SaferTogether – whether you’re a streamer, an athlete or anything in between, the opportunities are endless, and we appreciate every single one of you.  
  • Visibility – Any support in boosting our communications around the fundraiser would be greatly appreciated through social media platforms. 

Thank you all so much for the continued support, we’re excited to launch this fundraiser alongside our Discord, and be able to encourage more people to talk. 

Skills utilised:
News

Safe In Our World Announces Community Manager’s Mental Health Training courses funded by Jingle Jam 2020

Registration for initial course placements are now open: bit.ly/SIOWcmt

 

London, February 10 2021. Safe In Our World (www.safeinourworld.com) today announced that its upcoming Community Management Mental Health Training Programme is now open for sign-ups. Launching later this year, the programme has been funded entirely by the community of Jingle Jam 2020 and sees the charity team up with Mind Fitness Training to create bespoke Safe In Our World accredited courses.

Safe In Our World wishes to extend its thanks to all those involved with Jingle Jam 2020, including the tens of thousands of community members that donated to enable the charity to create and deliver this vital training.

Designed to empower community managers, or anyone with a consumer facing role within the videogames industry, with knowledge, insight and best practice guidelines, this bespoke Safe In Our World programme will deliver beyond our original goal of providing courses for to up to 50 community managers, with the charity hoping to quadruple this figure.

“We were truly humbled by the support of the Jingle Jam community, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to each and every one of them, as well as the organisers of Jingle Jam” said Kim Parker-Adcock, Deputy Chair, Safe In Our World. She continued, “This will be the first major initiative the charity will deliver in 2021, with many more to be announced. This course will empower those that talk directly to their communities with vital knowledge, guidelines and advice.”

“We were so pleased to have Safe In Our World as part of the Jingle Jam 2020 lineup of charity projects and our community felt the same,” said Lewis Brindley, co-founder of Jingle Jam. “This Mental Health Training Programme will provide much-needed support to those in the games industry who need it, we can’t wait to see it develop over the year.”

The Safe In Our World two-stage course includes both general mental health awareness and best practice. The programme will also include unique learning elements designed specifically for video games community managers, or those in a consumer facing role. With the aim to empower attendees with the knowledge and tools to deliver positive messaging, insights and actions, the course will offer a diverse skill set upon completion.

Registration is open now, and those interested should declare their interest, as Safe In Our World expects this free course to be highly subscribed. To register, please visit: bit.ly/SIOWcmt

The Safe In Our World mission remains; unite the industry to remove the stigma around mental health, within the industry and beyond, and to affect positive change for the better. For those interested in joining the Level Up Mental Health campaign, visit the Safe In Our World website for more information.

 

For more information, and to download press assets, please visit:
Safe In Our World bit.ly/SafeMedia

For press enquires please email press@safeinourworld.org

 

About Safe In Our World
Safe In Our World is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1183344. A team of seasoned gaming veterans passionate about mental health brainstormed for over two years over ways they could make a difference. Launched on World Mental Health Day on October 10th, 2019, its aims are to raise awareness of mental health issues within the video games industry, and to provide resources, signpost help, and to drive change for everyone connected with the industry, for developers, publishers and service provides, to content creators and players. Its initial mission is to create an online destination where people can seek help, gain access to resources and information, and discover stories from real people within and surrounding the games industry, with more detailed policies available via the website. Safe In Our World is a worldwide hub accessible for anyone in need.

 

About the Jingle Jam

The Jingle Jam is the world’s biggest games charity event, taking place every year. Since its inception in 2011 the Jingle Jam has raised over $20 million, all for charitable projects across the world.

Skills utilised:
News

Finding Your Own (Virtual) Happy Place by Ian Collen

It’s no big secret that video games can be great for offering a virtual retreat within which to interact and connect with others, and you’ll often find some familiar titles listed. However, there are also plenty of hugely rewarding experiences to be found outside the mainstream.

When it comes to those more popular examples, Animal Crossing: New Horizons may be 2020’s prime candidate, combining online friendship and cooperation in both single- and multiplayer modes. We could also point to the ever-popular open world creativity in Minecraft, setting up online fireteams in Call of Duty or to tackle Destiny 2’s latest raid, finding a like-minded community in the likes of FIFA or just having fun in cult hits such as Fall Guys or Among Us (and their respective Twitch feeds!).

However, in a year that has seen a lot more people finding themselves socially distanced from the outside world, many have sought solace with a few rather more unusual pet gaming projects – not only for simple entertainment or to answer that ‘what do I do now?’ question that often rears its head when you’re on your own and with lots of spare time, but also for an almost motivational sense of structure and purpose; albeit a largely flexible and personal one.

For example, while there are plenty of iOS and Android titles for your phone and tablet of choice there’s a lot to be said for those in the mould of The Simpsons: Tapped Out or SimCity BuildIt – games that involve setting objectives into motion that can take hours to complete, with other variants including the likes Township and Last Shelter: Survival. Once you’ve cleared the basics in these games you can find a nice routine in dipping in first thing in the morning and then later in the evening to gather up the rewards and set the next sequence of missions into motion – where both personal and community-driven goals help to combine for a series of ongoing small successes from one day to the next.

When it comes to finding a happy place for slightly longer experiences, that obviously falls down to personal preference and how much time you have on your hands. For example, sports fans could look to the likes of F1 2020, which can not only fill the hours if you commit to a full racing weekend set-up or shaving tenths off your lap times, but can also provide a great multiplayer community if you find a lobby of fierce-but-fair rivals to test yourself against.

Following the references to SimCity and finding comfort in those small victories from self-governed gaming, another such title that springs to mind is Cities Skylines. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s a city-building title in a similar vein to SimCity and its ilk, which may be a few years old now but can still be an absorbing way to while away more an afternoon or ten.

Perhaps the main difference is that once you’ve got to grips with the basics (not putting water pumps downstream from sewage works etc) it essentially boils down to a traffic management game as you try to find the most efficient way to combine your residential, industrial and commercial demands. It’s not too complicated once you’ve clocked the fundamentals, nor is it overly punishing if you make any mistakes (there are few pitfalls that can’t be fixed!), and so you’re mostly free to play around with building some fun and potentially creative cityscape solutions.

It is a single-player game but, as is so often the case, the internet can be an invaluable community-driven resource to find working answers to your ongoing problems (be warned: you might find yourself watching way too many YouTube videos on road interchanges!) – but finding your own solutions, sometimes more through luck than judgement, can be a hugely rewarding way to keep your mind active and your brain in gear.

It might be a hard sell to an unknowing audience, but there’s a heart-warming joy to be found in hooking up both a passenger train and cargo transport network through a series of raised roundabouts that somehow flow seamlessly around the city (your own ‘Isolation Station’ as Bob Mortimer’s Train Guy might call it). Or maybe you just throw down a crazy one-way street that runs over two bridges and underneath a highway as a last-gasp ‘why not?’ solution to a gridlock that’s stagnating your city’s development – and it changes everything. Who knew traffic management could feel so good?!!

In the absence of a more conventional sense of structure or routine which may otherwise come from a direct connection to the outside world, finding one or two games that scratch your own individual itches in these difficult times can add a small sense of purpose or control over your day-to-day life – even if trying to justify to someone else that you’ve had a busy and productive day might be a stretch! Regardless, simply finding that happy gaming place and letting it play out on your own terms can be as satisfying as it can be rewarding for your self-esteem.

Who knows? Maybe each morning you’ll crack your head off the pillow to dig out your phone and harvest a few crops, kill some zombies and then set a few things in motion to catch-up on later in the day (adding a few ‘to do’ items to your diary based on when their respective timers end). And then the answer to that ‘what do I do now?’ question could well be: ‘oh yeah, I was going to build a bridge across to that island, which I can then turn it into a tourist resort and hook up a passenger station to the train line like this and then run a connecting road to the distant highway like that…’.

Of course, the seemingly mundane world of traffic management in Cities Skylines isn’t going to float everyone’s boat. Perhaps you’re more of a survival fan looking to face off against dinosaurs in Ark: Survival Evolved, or happier simply playing Scrabble with a few strangers on your laptop, or maybe shooting them in Fortnite… The point is that there’s a place in the gaming world for everyone to find a second home (and a third, fourth…) to escape into and unwind in on their own terms.

It needn’t be in the same ‘cool’ or popular titles that you’ll see splashed all over your social media feed (Cyberpunk 2077 anyone?), or even in a dedicated online or multiplayer game that provides an obvious connection to others. Sometimes it can be found in a very personal and often unique world, but one that can be grown and expressed through shared ideas and experiences – and one you’ll be rewarded by with every small victory that you’ll encounter along the way.


 

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

Safe In Our World Team Up With GameByte

We are thrilled to announce we have teamed up with Gamebyte, who have come up with an innovative way to stand against console resales of the PS5 which has hugely affected the launch for retailers and gamers alike.

GameByte have devised a system to ensure only their real fans can purchase a PS5 from them, by integrating a £1 raffle ticket system in an attempt to remove interference from bots. The proceeds of the raffle will be kindly donated to Safe In Our World to support our ongoing mission to reduce stigma surrounding mental health within the video games industry (and beyond).

In addition to this, GameByte are also looking to introduce a “round-up” system on their GameByte Shop to the nearest GBP, which the excess will be donated to Safe In Our World.

We’re delighted to be working more closely alongside GameByte, as several of their team already support Safe In Our World as ambassadors and support in spreading our awareness within their respective communities.

Check out GameByte’s official announcement here for more information.

GameByte PS5 stock is coming image
Credit: GameByte

Social Chain Head of Gaming, Rich White, said: “The problem is that bots can check out much faster than humans, meaning real gamers miss out. It’s an issue that affects almost every retailer, yet a solution like GameByte’s hasn’t been attempted by a UK retailer before – until now.”

Raffle logo for GameByte x Safe in our World partnership

Credit: GameByte

 

GameByte’s newsletter subscribers can purchase a raffle ticket for £1 (limited to one per person) which will enter them into the queue for secure sales of GameByte’s PS5 stock.

Winners will be randomly selected until GameByte’s stock runs out, and those winners will be sent a private link, created just for them, where they can safely purchase their PS5.

Because PS5 stock on the GameByte Shop is limited, the offer is exclusive to GameByte’s newsletter subscribers and not everyone will be selected on the first round. Anyone hoping to get their hands on a PS5 can sign up here to be kept up to date.

Skills utilised:
News

Helping Others Find The Help I Received by Nick Powell

The hard part about wanting to help remove the stigma attached to mental health is that you have to take the nerve wracking step of telling people about it.

These days I find it best to get that out of the way quickly and get onto the topic of trying to help other people that may be experiencing mental health issues rather than worry about my own. So with that said:

I first realised I was having mental health difficulties a few years ago when in rapid succession I went through the risk of redundancy following an organisational restructure, a move into a new team with more responsibility and a troubled legacy project with a very large budget attached to it. Despite dreadful anxiety, nausea, weight loss and falling asleep on the sofa as soon as I got home it took me a long time to realise that this all could be classed as a mental health issue. I simply thought that my job was getting too much for me and I was worried I was on course for failure. I had supportive colleagues and bosses around me who I was able to confide in and access to doctors and professional help at work as part of my benefits which I naturally took advantage of. 

I was genuinely surprised when the GP told me that not only did I have anxiety, I was also clinically depressed. I was also relieved that there was a medical term for what I had been going through and I wasn’t just ‘overwhelmed.’ I started on the medication citalopram and a CBT course almost immediately and was surprised that I was seeing very little real improvement weeks and months later. It wasn’t until my interest in the subject of Mental Health was piqued following a webinar by Andrew Shatte organised by my employer during Mental Health Awareness week on the topic of resilience that I started to get a sense of how to manage my mental health.

I am not a mental health expert, but I do know that a healthy interest in the subject has engaged my critical faculties and I’ve applied them to helping myself by studying the vast amount of material available on the topic by pre-eminent doctors and psychologists.

The real breakthroughs in my mental wellbeing have come from reading the books of Andrew Shatte and Albert Ellis (whose work Shatte references and reframes) and realising certain truths for myself: “People don’t just get upset. They contribute to their upsetness,” Albert Ellis, and “You mainly feel the way you think,” also Albert Ellis. By keeping this in mind at all times, working through CBT exercises as explained by these experts in the field, and combining it with regular exercise and daily meditation I have a much healthier internal monologue, though it’s very easy to slip back into old habits, especially during trying times. Having a mental and physical fitness routine definitely helps address this. I can also say that I have had incredible support from my amazing wife long before I first went to the GP. Being the spouse of someone going through mental health issues can be a massive challenge in itself and anyone caring for a partner going through mental health difficulties should be aware that they can also look for help and support from charities and mental health organisations.  

I can also look back at a challenging 2020 that has brought us the difficulties of living and working under lockdown, and a 2019 that saw me made redundant and find new employment, and have the satisfaction of helping roll out the Mental Health Charter at my new place of work, Curve Digital, where I have an official function as one of our Mental Health Champions. This is without doubt one of my proudest career achievements to date. I have also been off of medication for over 18 months as I have found my coping strategies mentioned above adequate to maintain my mental health. Any decision to come off of medication should be taken in conjunction with a medical professional, and just the same as there should be no stigma surrounding mental health, there should also be no stigma as to whether a person needs medication or not to maintain mental health.    

My motivation for being a Mental Health Champion is simple – I want anyone experiencing the kind of things I’ve experienced to be able to get access to even more help and support than I did. If I imagine where I’d be if I’d never heard Andrew Shatte’s webinar or read the works of Albert Ellis or been encouraged to subscribe to Headspace, well it doesn’t bear thinking about to be honest, after all you mainly feel the way you think… and my inner monologue was far from nurturing in the past.

This is why I’ve shared this story with you and why I am honoured to work with the incredible people at Safe in our World and within Curve Digital’s HR and Leadership teams to end the stigma attached to mental illness and provide more support for those in the games industry that may need it.

 

Skills utilised:
Stories

Staying Positive During Lockdown

Lockdowns and restrictions are in place across the world, and it can be hard to stay positive; but it’s important to know where support can be found if you’re struggling.

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing, we recognise it can be stressful and confusing. The team at Safe In Our World have created some useful tips, tricks, and games that have helped them to stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve changed my routine so I do the horses in the morning rather than after work – it’s made quite a difference to how I feel!”

Kim, Trustee

Try to stay connected to people; whether it’s having weekly catch up calls with loved ones, visiting your favourite streaming channels/chat forums or spending time with your household.

“Each morning Sarah and I have a 10am coffee catch up, like we would do in the office. It’s a nice start to the day, and normalises working from home.”

Rosie, Charity Officer

Talk about your worries and how you’re feeling. Sharing your concerns with trusted people can lift a weight off your shoulders. There are a number of helplines available here if you’re not comfortable talking with people you know.

“Doing exercise during the morning or day is so much better than at night. Food is important too – don’t always opt for the sugary snacks.”

Leo, Chair & Trustee

 

“I’ve finally started doing a lunchtime workout a few times a week, just 15 minutes to get my blood pumping. Great for a midday energy boost!”

Beth, Web/Social Team

It’s important to be correctly informed regarding the ongoing situation, so ensure you’re reading from credible sources, such as the NHS website. Inaccurate information is easily spread, and can lead people to panic.

“I make sure I get a walk in every day (even when I don’t fancy it) just to get some fresh air. I live near a canal, so it’s nice to see some wildlife too.”

Sarah, Charity Officer

Look after your sleep – a good nights rest can make a huge impact on your physical and emotional health. Try to create a sleeping pattern you can stick to, to ensure you have a calm enviroment to wind down in.

“I’ve tried mixing in game communities more, with more social games. Not drinking as much caffeine and sugar has also had good effects on my anxiety.”

Jake, Charity Assistant

Recommended games during the lockdown: 

Playne

ABZÛ

A Short Hike

Persona 5

Meadow

Kind Words

Animal Crossing

Journey

No Man’s Sky

Skills utilised:
Covid 19

Safe In Our World Teams up with Football Manager!

We’re proud to partner with the incredible team at Sports Interactive Games and Football Manager, to place Safe In Our World messaging in stadiums throughout the game. Following our recent launch of the Safe In Our World COVID-19 Hub, offering a range of support and tools for players to cope during these difficult times, we’re delighted to be able to extend our message to players within the league. We might not be able to help you avoid relegation, but we can help you find the right support. If you do feel like you’re lost, visit our Hub now or find contact details Here.

 

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

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