In 2021, Take This was able to take on so many new projects and opportunities, and even to expand our staff! We’d like to highlight some of what we’re most proud of, and make sure you haven’t missed what we’ve been up to. It’s likely we’ve done a talk, published a resource, or connected to a new person that is relevant to you.
New Content, Talks & Events
- We’re very excited to announce the release of Designing Games to Challenge the Stigma Around Mental Health – a new white paper from Take This. Written by Take This intern and York University PhD student Matthew Whitby and our research director Dr. Rachel Kowert, this is a practical tool for game designers to help them build games that actively challenge stigma around mental health – or, at least, not contribute more to stigma.
- As we have for the last two years, Take This partnered with TIGS for its annual summit on mental health in games. We had a number of really exciting talks (you can see all of Day 1 here and Day 2 here), with some great highlights:
- What accountability and healing can look like when dealing with gender-based harm in games, from our Feminist Frequency partner Jae Lin
- Why “crazy” villains is lazy writing, with Tim Schafer and an invisible Dr. B
- Cassie Walker discussing how “we all mess up,” when thinking about gender-based harm in games
- Rachel Kowert talking about a “digital diet” vs screen time
- We were privileged to moderate the groundbreaking, live Twitch showing of Night, Mother, and to be a part of the post-show panel discussion of this heavy, but very important, piece of work.
- At GDC (The Game Developers Conference) 2021, we gave three talks:
- How the Industry Can Change the “Games Are Bad” Narrative (Dr. Rachel Kowert)
- Not Everything is On Fire All The Time: Making Healthy Workplace Culture a Reality (moderated by Eve Crevoshay)
- UX Summit: Do No Harm: Ethical Design for Emotionally Heavy Games (talk given independently by Dr. Kelli Dunlap). Dr. Dunlap gave the same talk at the 2021 Games for Change Festival, and we also conducted three AMA-style Q&A sessions (see Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3)
- At 2021 PAX East Online, Dr. Dunlap and our streaming ambassador Mxiety discussed their Research on the Mental Health of Streamers During Covid-19 PAX
- Eve Crevoshay moderated a panel at GamesBeat in November, Building a Diversity-Oriented Studio From the Ground Up
- Dr. Kowert participated in a panel on online safety with the ESA
Resources & Research
- We’ve been working hard on new content for our website and YouTube channel. While we’re waiting on the very final edits to our first streamer mental health training video – part of series you’ll see more of this year – it’s 98% complete and we’re very proud to partner with the AFSP on its development.
- We also launched the Game Developers Social Media Experience Survey, which is the first survey of its kind looking at the actual online experiences of game makers. We’ll have some data on this available later this year.
- Finally, I’d like to call you attention to some new articles on our website:
- Early in the year, we welcomed our new class of streaming ambassadors. This fantastic group of mental health advocates are helping grow the number of positive mental health communities and spaces in streaming, and to increase the amount of accurate, ethical mental health information across the ecosystem.
- 2021 brought us the opportunity to hire some new team members! Please welcome our new cohort of workshop consultants, who are helping us meet the demand for industry training and consulting: https://www.takethis.org/about/our-team/.
- We also expanded the Board of Directors in 2021.
- Finally, we launched a new Community Review Board. I’m particularly proud of this, because we are working hard to make sure that Take This becomes actively inclusionary and anti-racist, and that we match our actions to our statements. The Community Review Board is composed of people from underrepresented identities to periodically review content. The Board is composed of members of our community (volunteers, ambassadors, and members of our Discord community) with expertise and lived experience as mental health, diversity, and inclusion advocates.
We’re really honored that both the organization and our team members have been recognized for our work this year. Dr. Kowert was inducted into the Game Awards Future Class 2021, and we received the WIG Global Awards Advocacy Award (jump to 07:22 for our award). Also we were recognized in the community category of the Golden TTRPGIF three times in the last year, including for:
- Champions of Psychology, two years running
- A Parasocial relationships in streaming panel from January 2021 which featured Dr. Kowert, several of our Ambassadors (Omega Jones and Kelli the Opera Geek), our board member (Tanya DePass), and Dr. B as moderator.
But… none of this is really all that exciting if we aren’t talking about actual games. We were really psyched to consult on the launch of Psychonauts 2 and help them develop an appropriate content warning. And we were quite honored to be invited to participate in the annual Games for Change Student Challenge Partnership with a mental health theme related to the pandemic. We created a theme, assembled some resources for educators, students, and parents, and also judged the entries. The finalist games showed empathy, mental health knowledge, and so much creativity!
Thank you for being part of our community. We hope that we can continue to provide you with the community, the resources, and the knowledge you need to maintain your own mental wellbeing.