This month marks the fifth anniversary of the founding of Take This.
Recently, I spoke with Jerry Holkins about the founding of Child’s Play. He told me a long and hilarious story of how he and Mike Krahulik came up with a terrible idea about sending old games to hospitals. Terrible (and obvious, in hindsight) because of germs. And how the two then decided to solicit donations of new items via Amazon. The ensuing avalanche of singly-wrapped and shipped items made enemies of Mike’s mail carrier and apartment complex, and, in Jerry’s words “created a terrible job” for the poor souls tasked with opening those boxes.
Then Jerry told me something extraordinary: The story of Child’s Play has now superseded that origin story. It’s no longer an organization founded by two guys with a grudge against the negative perception of gamers and some questionable ideas about logistics. The org grew, took on a life of its own, and is now about more than him.
On this occasion I can now say I understand what he meant by that. When Susan, Dr. Mark, and I founded Take This in 2012, we had no idea what we were getting into. Our idea was simply that sharing stories about mental health issues might encourage people to get help. That we might save a life or help share some hope.
In the five years since its founding, Take This has shared hundreds of stories, recruited hundreds of clinical care workers, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for mental health awareness, worked directly with studios to increase their mental healthiness, and pioneered a program that brings trained “Psychomancers” to conventions where people dealing with mental illness are most at risk. Take This has saved lives. And it’s become a symbol in itself for mental health awareness, healing, and hope.
Over the years, my involvement with Take This has waxed and waned. At one time the org literally only existed in my head. And then it existed on paper, on the internet and also my head. We have slowly accreted qualified help to flesh out roles, build up programs, solidify the org, and more. The caliber of talent applied to this task is nothing short of astounding. I can now say that Take This is a collection of some of the most brilliant and powerful humans I have ever known, and that, most of the time, I have no idea what they are up to, but have full faith and confidence that it will change the world.
As I write this, the Take This team is preparing our next generation of fundraiser; developing our partnership with convention organizations around the world; planning an AFK Room for our fifth PAX convention; preparing another room for an additional, brand-new (to us) convention on the East Coast; working to secure partnerships with the largest technology companies in the world; creating mental health-related content in partnership with media entities and our hundreds of mental health advisors; organizing mental health training expeditions to video game and technology companies; and working with our industry partners to continue to make being a part of the video game community safe and comfortable for people with mental health issues.
The story of Take This is no longer about who made it and who inspired it. It has grown beyond that origin tale, and it continues to grow. And as I write this, I acknowledge that my own role will diminish in stride. I will always be a part of Take This, but I am so proud and humbled to know it is now a part of so many others’ lives, and brings hope to so many who need it.