Weekly INT Boost – Navigating Storms

It’s just about time to start the weekend, and with PAX Aus and some huge releases (any Super Mario Odyssey fans in the crowd?), it’s sure to be a busy one. Why not take a little break with some of the best recent articles on mental health and gaming?

The games industry responds to #MeToo

“As I remind people all the time in my lectures, the “industry” is not some distant, rumbling machine that we can conveniently blame for all our problems. The industry is US – we are the heart that beats within this creative endeavor. By acting now, we can save countless individuals from physical, mental, and emotional pain, suffering, and distress.”

GamesIndustry.biz spoke with several veteran game developers about sexual harassment in the industry, including our very own board member, Kate Edwards.

Blizzard’s failure to curb toxicity undermines Overwatch’s inclusive message

“Toxicity is a nebulous term, but today it’s a container for all the ways that other players can make a multiplayer game a miserable experience. It’s hardly an issue unique to Overwatch, but the difference in this case is that from the start Blizzard has consistently presented the game as the inclusive shooter. The game’s diverse cast of characters, though certainly not perfect, seems to have succeeded in netting a wider audience than most FPSes—twice as many women play it than the genre average, for example. Yet it’s these marginalized players who are most hurt by Blizzard’s failure to stem the flow of bad behavior within its game.”

What does it mean for a company to make a multiplayer shooter far more inclusive than most, then abandon its players to rampant hostility? PC Gamer explores the issue.

Values and consequences in serious games

“When looking at consequences in serious games, or games for change, I have begun to see why so many serious games fail. Whereas the consequences for immoral behavior is usually subtle in AAA or COTS games, consequences in serious games are swift and unmerciful. Most players don’t find the games “fun,” and I think it’s because the consequences are too unrealistic (unrealistic for the expectations of the game, that is; it could be very realistic in terms of the consequences you face in everyday life). Serious games don’t play with a variety of consequences, because they’re too focused on condemning this behavior or encouraging that action.”

Serious games are all too often defined by their joylessness, and that makes getting their messages across a challenge. Not Your Mama’s Gamer looks at one area where serious games could take inspiration from more mainstream titles, ideally without losing their messages in the process.

VR brings dramatic change to mental health care

“‘Bravemind,’ initially funded by the Department of Defense in 2005, can accurately recreate an inciting incident in a war zone, like Iraq, to activate ‘extinction learning’ which can deactivate a deep-seated ‘flight or fight response,’ relieving fear and anxiety. ‘This is a hard treatment for a hard problem in a safe setting,’ Rizzo told me. Together with talk therapy, the treatment can measurably relieve the PTSD symptoms. The Army has found “Bravemind” can also help treat other traumas like sexual assault.”

We’ve covered most of the therapies Forbes talks about in this article individually, but it’s a great synopsis of the research going into VR therapy right now.

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.

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