The work of nonprofit organizations is about changing the world – making it better – and that impetus usually comes from something personal – something that really hits close to home.
In the case of Take This, it was the suicide of game journalist Matt Hughes on October 30, 2012, which rocked his professional community, just as it rocked his friends and family.
As our founding clinical director, Dr. Mark Kline, noted, the founders realized that this was the moment to really focus on changing the narrative about gamers, gaming, and mental health. Take This, he notes, “was founded by concerned professionals who knew firsthand about the impact of mental disorder on the gaming community and was specifically inspired by the devastating suicide of game journalist Matt Hughes.”
And so Dr. Mark began speaking to packed crowds at PAX East and the Escapist Expo, introducing the idea of mental health to a receptive audience. Since the response was overwhelmingly positive, Take Thisstarted doing more panels – and developed our AFK Room program – the bedrock of our mission and work. The AFK Room quickly expanded to operate across the US and internationally. It’s still often what people think of when they think of Take This.
Over time, we realized that we could think bigger than responding reactively to the needs of the community. So, in an effort to address the source of mental health challenges in games, we started collaborating with studios and leadership organizations in games which lead to the development of our training and consulting program for studios, and the launch of training and consulting program for studios, and the launch of our streaming ambassador program to spread accurate and ethical mental health information.
When COVID hit, it became clear that mental health needs weren’t so much a secret but an open need. Demand for our workshop program and speaking availability at conferences exploded. The expanded workshop program allowed us to expand our team to include more professionals, including research psychologists and other experts in the field. We also began to form partnerships that build our ability to address systemic issues in games, and take advantage of the expertise of great collaborators – especially the Raising Good Gamers co-founders Games for Change and the Connected Learning Labs at UC-Irvine and Feminist Frequency.
Now, 10 years after our founding, we’re taking the lessons we’ve learned in addressing mental health matters systemically, and with our new capacity and expertise, recommitted to providing updated, high-quality, free, educational, mental health resources to the community.
As we grow and mature as an organization, Take This is committed to continuing to do what it does best, only better: produce the highest quality, most ethical and informed free mental health resources on relevant topics in the most accessible ways. We will expand our work with key partners, continue to lead the game industry towards better practices in studios, in games, and in communities – and add substantively to research that helps us make games safer, more humane, and more rewarding. We will diversify our team, expand our capacity, and explore new ways of reaching people who love games with relevant tools and resources.