‘Although we’re ok, telling each other about our gaming experiences, we’re not really comfortable talking about ourselves, things we think will make us seem different’
That’s how journalist Susan Ardent introduces the idea behind Take This, a non profit started by herself and fellow writer Russ Pitts. Founded in 2013, the charity seeks to inform the gaming community about mental health issues, provide education, and reduce stigma.
Ardent’s words resonate strongly. We can have such intensely emotional experiences with games, and yet so much of our dialogue around them tends to boil down to mechanics and features. Even when discussing the more traditionally emotive aspects of the art form – the spaces they transport us to, the memories they conjure up, the way we relate to their stories – we tend to remove ourselves from the equation. I’ll tell a friend they should check a game out for its emergent gameplay, non linearity, or quirky pixel art, but rarely because it taught me about myself, or made me see something from a different perspective.
Powering up the fight against stigma
This is something Wired Productions seemed to keep in mind when they released The Town of Light last summer. ‘(it) isn’t interested in horror trivialities’ said Ars Technica, praising the game for the way it ‘handles its delicate mental health subject matter with surprising maturity’. In a sea of horror games that treat mental illness as the vehicle for a cheap jump scare, games like The Town of Light and the recent Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are a breath of fresh air.
Not content to just approach the subject matter in their game, Wired Productions recently donated a massive $10k of proceeds to Take This. They aren’t stopping there though:
“the work has only just begun. We’re excited to work with Take This to put the fund to great use, and in the coming months, we’ll be announcing more initiatives. We’re steadfast in our belief that Mental health is an issue that the gaming community, as a whole, needs and wants to tackle. We’re driven in delivering real support, wherever we can.” – Leo Zullo, Managing Director, Wired Productions.
You can find out more about Wired Productions and support Take This on their sites. Plus now we get to walk around with the fuzzy feeling there’s still parts of the industry committed to being fucking awesome people.
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