This has been quite the year, and its challenges have highlighted the importance of mental health – talking about it, understanding it, treating it, and advocating for resources. Take This has worked hard to respond to our community’s needs, pivoting to online delivery and focused on providing crisis response as well as robust new tools for developers, gamers, and streamers alike. We’re very proud of our work. Here are some highlights.
With everything moving online, we made the decision to put our community design expertise to work, and launched our Community Discord. Many of you are members of this uncommonly wholesome community already. If you aren’t, we encourage you to check it out!
We’ve also continued to expand our Streaming Ambassador Program with a new 2020 class. These are rockstar mental health ambassadors whose own communities are also great places to build friendships, learn about mental health, and have some fun.
Training & Workshops:
2020 marked the expansion of our Workshops and Trainings for game studios and publishers, with new offerings on the science behind video games. In 2021 we’re really excited to be adding some new parent workshops – watch for those in February!
In March and April, just as we were coming to terms with our new pandemic life, we published a COVID Article Series that covers some of the challenges and fears that are most common to quarantine and COVID. We also started a new Mental Health Minute Series – videos designed to give quick tips on dealing with some of the most pressing challenges of this year.
Finally, we were very pleased to discover a great new resource, the Find a Helpline widget, which seriously increased the usefulness of our evergreen Mental Health Resources page.
This was a very busy year for online meetings (Zoom fatigue? It’s a real thing!).
In April, I was very honored to be recognized with the “Up and Comer Award” at the annual Gamesbeat Conference, alongside another noted mental health advocate, John Smedley.
We were very pleased to partner with the IGDA to plan and host the Game Developers Crisis Conference in May (sponsored by Microsoft), which featured a ton of technical and non-technical talks on how game studios could best weather the shift to working from home and supporting their communities during the pandemic.
In May we also worked with Twitch and a range of other partners to put together a week of streams during Mental Health Month, which featured the announcement of our 2nd Dr. Mark Award for Mental Health representation in games and a few lovely Profiles in Hope here and here.
Then we built and ran our first ever AFKOnline. Whew! In the summer, when we realized that COVID wasn’t going away any time soon, we worked with PAX to develop an online model of our well-used and much-appreciated AFK Room program that is a fixture of all the US PAX events, made possible in part by Codename Entertainment. This included building out the Discord infrastructure (private chat rooms, bots & commands, and various themed channels), training moderators to the unique and high standards of the AFK Room, and training volunteers who usually provide their services in person to use Discord and conduct their support online. In building the program and recruiting volunteers, we had the help of four great partner organizations: StackUP, Checkpoint, Gaming the Mind, and Safe in Our World. AFKOnline ran on Discord throughout PAXO and served over 350 people.
There were so many talks and panels and AMAs and interviews that we did in the meantime, but the feather in our cap was TIGS, which we co-present each October. TIGS 2020 featured two days of content – Day 1 focused on personal stories from game industry veterans and Day 2 considered game and community design as well as some of the wonderful nuances of making games for mental health.
As I mentioned above, we’ve got some exciting parent workshops coming up in February and we’ll be launching a streamer mental health training and support series (funded by Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege team) early in the year.
We’re also getting our very own Twitch page up and running with Monday streams from 3:30 – 5:30 Pacific Time starting in the second half of January! Watch for our game playthroughs on the 1st and 3rd weeks of each month, hosted by Dr. Kelli Dunlap with Dr. B, and developer and community panels on the 2nd and 4th weeks, respectively. Week 5 will be bonus mental health AMAs with Take This staff.