Thank you so much for your interest in supporting the AFK Room program. Unfortunately, our Indiegogo fundraising campaign to an unexpected end. We’re looking into the problem and hope to reopen the campaign, but in the meantime you can still help us bring the AFK Room to conventions around the world this year.
You can donate directly through a number of trusted services. If you’re interested in the perks we announced for the Indiegogo campaign or you’d like to support a future campaign, follow us on Twitter for future updates.
About the AFK Room program
More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a calming space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out.
Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues. Still others check in to support us and our mission. And the rare few come because they need help RIGHT NOW.
Why we need your help
Crowds, schedules, the immediacy of once-a-year events and other stressors common at conventions and expos can be triggers for many emotional issues, especially anxiety and depression. People dealing with mental health issues (and even many who aren’t) rely on the Take This AFK Rooms for taking a break and escaping the bustle of a crowded con. If Take This can’t reach its funding goal to provide these AFK Rooms, most of the attendees, exhibitors, and staff who rely on these rooms will left to fend for themselves.
More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a calming space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues. Still others check in to support us and our mission. We are happy to meet you all.
Since Spring 2014, Take This has hosted AFK Rooms at every North American PAX event, with around 500 visitors per day. Starting in 2015, the AFK Room has been available at every PAX worldwide, and we’ve brought it to many other events as well.
Over 2,000 people just in 2016 visited AFK Rooms at conventions worldwide. And many attendees tell us they are more likely to attend a con if it has an AFK Room.
Here is what some of our visitors have to say about their experiences in the AFK Rooms (all feedback is anonymous and unsolicited):
“I love it… I wish I knew about it earlier.”
“AFK room is a godsend.”
“It was such a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of PAX. The staff were extremely friendly and very easy to talk to.”
“For me, I go into conventions knowing I’ll get anxious with the amount of people and flow of things. It’s great that this place is available. My boyfriend almost had an anxiety attack from it all but we were able to regain our calm rather quickly in this space. ”
“As someone dealing with Sensory Integration Disorder/Sensory Processing Disorder, just knowing there is a quiet and accepting place in the convention center gives me much more freedom and comfort in how far I can push myself in what would otherwise be a pretty hostile (but fun and important to me) environment. Thank you so much.”
Where the money goes
Take This is a small organization, and we run a tight ship. That having been said, running a traveling mental health educational and awareness-raising clinic year-round, across the globe is an expensive proposition.
If we raise $200,000 this year, we’ll be able to establish an AFK Room at the 7 major conventions we attend every year, plus bringing on up to five additional conventions within the next year.
Some of the major conventions where we manage an AFK Room are able to reimburse Take This for our costs (airfare, hotels, feeding people, licensed mental health workers, printing, coloring books, and other materials), but most of them aren’t able to do so. And many of the smaller, less well-endowed conventions actually require more of our time and resources. So expanding the AFK Program to new conventions gets real expensive real fast.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what it takes to run a Take This AFK Room:
- Assessment: Before even starting to establish an AFK Room, Take This sends an Assessment Team to visit the convention and meet its organizers. There are many factors which might make a convention incompatible with the Take This mission, and this assessment period is vital to ensuring that our volunteers and visitors will get the care and protection they need. The Take This team then conducts a thorough analysis of a given convention, how an AFK Room will benefit the convention’s attendees, and how the Take This team can work with that convention’s staff to make the show more welcoming to attendees with mental health issues.
- Recruitment: This step is the hardest. For every city where Take This hosts an AFK Room, we must establish a brand new network of like-minded clinicians and begin recruiting and training for staffing the AFK Room. Our AFK Room is fully staffed with mental health care workers, many of them licensed to practice in their particular state. Take This will often recruit a clinical coordinator, someone who is a veteran care worker in their area who can help recruit like-minded clinicians. We then thoroughly vet each care worker to ensure they are compatible with our mission and our gamer community, then conduct a series of training sessions to prepare them for staffing the AFK Room. Many of our first-time clinicians have never been to a gaming convention, and we must prepare them not only for the tasks they will be required to perform for us, but in some cases the disorientating cultural shock of immersing themselves in a convention for the first time.
- Consulting: One of the lesser-known aspects of the AFK Program is our work with convention staffs in training them how to provide basic attention to attendees, exhibitors, and fellow staff members dealing with mental health issues. This training was at one time optional, but has since become mandatory (at our convention partners’ requests) at every convention where Take This manages an AFK Room. This training session provides not only basic mental health awareness, but simple and effective techniques and tools for helping everyone have a better experience at a convention.
- Set-up: The weeks prior to a convention, the Take This team gathers its training materials, AFK Room amenities (like coloring books, stress squeezers, facial tissue, etc.), volunteer t-shirts, radios, gaff tape, sharpies, and more, loads up “the Big Box” and ships out to the city where we are working. The Take This team is located all over the country — and so are our materials. Transport (for both people and things) is one of our biggest costs. We must then establish a livable space for our team and volunteers for the week of an event.
Our “hard costs” for running an AFK Room (airplane tickets, hotel rooms, clinician compensation, equipment, etc.) average at around $10,000 per show, and in some cases even more. To compensate and feed our Take This staff members during the week spent working and living away from their families adds roughly $5,000 per show.
Which means that to accommodate just the seven events already on our recurring AFK schedule costs Take This over $100,000 per year. And most of those costs are not reimbursed by our partner conventions.
With your support, we’ll be able to continue serving our seven existing partner shows, and expand the program by up to five new shows in a year. If you donate, you’ll help Take This save lives.