Welcome, friends, to our roundup of the best game and mental health stories you may have missed. This week, our stories center on harassment, crunch, and burnout — three topics on a lot of minds as we start this year.
Everyone has a different idea about what harassment is, study says
“There’s also a curious division between acknowledging something as harassment and believing that action should be taken by social media platforms. In the case of sexual harassment, for example, 43 percent of respondents considered the unkind messages harassment — yet only 20 percent thought the social media platform should intervene. In a scenario where a woman’s picture is edited to include sexual imagery, 84 percent called it harassment, but only 71 percent thought platforms should step in.”
As The Verge finds here, we all have our own ideas of what constitutes harassment and how social networks like Twitter should deal with it. Unfortunately, those ideas rarely line up, and this leaves companies to define the issue for themselves, to unsatisfactory results.
Hinterland rirector talks abuse, leaving Long Dark subreddit
“‘The sub became extremely abusive/toxic to me and my community team…’ van Lierop said. ‘I don’t feel the need to participate in communities that think abusing developers is ok. We don’t tolerate it in Steam or our official forums, but we don’t moderate Reddit…I think it’s important for developers to be willing to draw a line at it, because it’s become so ‘normal’ online and it’s turning people away.’
For many players, one hallmark of a good developer is willingness to interact with a game’s community on sites like Reddit — but as the developers of The Long Dark (and the devs of No Man’s Sky, and many others) can attest, that isn’t always a worthwhile proposition. Cliqist looks at that balancing act.
One Batman writer is bringing trauma therapy to the entire DC Universe
“‘The DCU has a bunch of superheroes and all they do is fight, every time, and that must have a psychological effect on them, right?’ [Tom King] continued. ‘You can’t live a life of violence and not feel that violence deep in your heart … So, [Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman have] set up something called Sanctuary, which is a place that you can go, modeled on veterans’ crisis centers — which is an interesting name for them — and talk about this trauma and admit that this had an effect on you.'”
A new DC Comics storyline promises to deal with the mental health impact of the violent lives superheroes lead, and hopefully won’t end up part of a villainous plot in some upcoming major event. Polygon has the details, which are currently somewhat sparse.
Developer detox: How to cultivate a positive company culture
“‘If you want to make good, fun games that people will enjoy, then you need to ensure the environment that the people are being creative in supports this,’ Gram Games’ culture developer Erin O’Brien tells us. ‘If you ensure that people are happy, comfortable, feel that they can be themselves and that they are creatively fulfilled, they’re going to give their all to maintain that environment, and thus, the company as a whole.'”
GamesIndustry.biz talks to studio heads about how to make an environment employees will be happy (and healthy) to work in.
Ritual of the Moon: Time and Reparative Game Design
“Much has been made recently about ‘crunch’ and the dangers of cramming development into bursts of unhealthy and inaccessible work habits. It has been written about in Kotaku, The New York Times, and many other places. The solution sounds so easy: just don’t crunch. Take your time. Live your life outside of making practices. But what are sustainable practices of making? Those which follow the ebbs and flows of sometimes the erratic and out-of-grasp force of creativity? Ones that don’t drag out a project or get caught up in perfectionist detailing? I have been thinking about time and reconsidering my own approach to my process because I’ve been working on a game that is about time. And it has taken way too much of it.”
At First Person Scholar, Kara Stone looks at game development, studio management and crunch through the lens of queer theory and with a focus on mental health. It’s a challenging read and a thought-provoking one.
And with that, we’re off! Most of Team Take This is resting up after two back-to-back conventions, and we hope you’re able to get some good, healthy rest too. We’ll be back on Monday with more great stories. Until then, take care of yourselves — and each other.