Weekly INT Boost – Trying Times

Welcome to our weekly recap of the best mental health and gaming articles you may have missed. This week, we have real life RPGs, more on the toxic environment game devs face, and more.


A dog has turned my life into an RPG

“In Torchlight, a dog – or a cat – takes your overflow loot back to town and negotiates a fee. In Torchlight 2, the dog can even make rudimentary purchases while they’re there. But this is not the kind of RPG behaviours that my dog has brought into my life. Cricket has changed two things that, it turns out, do a lot for my experience of the outside world. When I go into town with her, I now discover that I am not allowed in most shops or restaurants. Most business in Brighton are now set decoration – like most businesses are in an RPG. And I also discover, as Cricket and I sit outside Waterstones while my wife and daughter go inside, that people want to come up and talk to me. You know, like in RPGs.”

Research shows us that dogs are often great for our mental health. This fun article from Eurogamer hits on one of the reasons why: dogs drag us–sometimes unwillingly–into a whole world of random encounters.


Empathy games tread thin line between ‘edutainment’ and virtual voyeurism

“As creators – especially those of us who deal with things like trauma, disability, mental illness or the experience of being a member of a marginalized community – we want to express these things,” says Karl Hohn, a member of the New York-based art and indie game collective Babycastles. “But you start running the risk of emotional tourism when your work is understood as, ‘listen to this song, play this game, go see this play, watch the film and you’ll understand.’ ”

Christian Science Monitor looks at empathy games, which are so often misapplied or misunderstood.


Gaming’s toxicity problem can’t be solved with DMCAs or Valve charts

“It’s hard for a developer not to feel under siege in this climate, especially a dev outside of the relative (and I do mean relative) safety of a big AAA studio. The backlash (there’s always a backlash, isn’t there?) to recent revelations about hidden game design tricks embedded in many popular titles makes that point plainly. As Charles Randall, a developer, recently pointed out on his Twitter, he and his colleagues can’t be as transparent about the job they love, nor the games they’re working on, because ‘gamer culture is so toxic that being candid in public is dangerous.’

Writing for Glixel, Katherine Cross illustrates why even simple criticism is becoming intolerable for some game developers, who are constantly under attack.


A therapist’s guide to staying productive when you’re depressed or heartbroken

“Think of your mental health like a computer operating system. When all is well, you’re operating like a brand-new Mac that has one program open: Completing a task within your scope is a breeze. When you’re depressed or grieving, however, the pinwheel of anxiety’s spinning constantly. You’re basically “force-quitting” life.”

When you’re dealing with major depression, making it to work every day can be a serious challenge. When you work from home and make your own hours, it can be less noticeable when things start to slide. This article from Quartz has some helpful suggestions for any freelancers, home workers and entrepreneurs who are also coping with depression.


And with that, we’re off. We’ll be back next week with more great stories. Until then, take care of yourselves — and each other.