It can be hard for people in the video game industry to acknowledge that mental health issues exist at all levels. Stigma hits hard, and when you’re a professional in the industry it’s natural to worry that opening up might have an impact on your career prospects. When you’re an employer or studio head, that acknowledgement might also mean recognizing that studio environments aren’t always healthy.
As a result, it can seem like mental health is exclusively a hobbyist problem, a gamer problem — not a developer, streamer, creator or journalist problem. Changing that perception is a major part of fighting stigma in the industry and helping to make it a healthier place. At PAX East, our clinical director, Raffael Boccamazzo (or as you may know him, Doctor B) had a chance to show the breadth of the problem while talking with industry professionals about just how pervasive mental health issues can be.
In a panel hosted by XSplit, Doctor B was joined by Richard Cook, filmmaker and developer at Gamestar Arts; Brent Sodman, developer at Dodge Roll Games, and panel moderator and XSplit brand ambassador Chris Slight to discuss mental health in indie development.
If you missed the panel when it was streamed during the show, be sure to check it out now. Sodman, Cook and Slight all come from different industry perspectives, and they all have a lot to say about the challenges of working in games while dealing with mental health issues and the sorts of problematic patterns of thinking and behavior that freelance work can produce. If you’ve had your own struggles with freelance or indie development, some of this may ring particularly true — and you may find Doctor B’s input encouraging.
And hey — if you find yourself struggling with mental health issues or have patterns of behavior and thinking that are holding you back, consider talking to a professional. As Doctor B explains during the panel, you might just be surprised to find how much better and easier your work can be when you give yourself the resources and care needed to thrive.