Stella and Daffodil in Spiritfarer, a game featured in the Mental Health Foundation's gaming research

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Gaming Helps, Says Mental Health Foundation, But Companies Must Do More

February 28, 2022

By: Joseph Allen

 
 

New research from the UK's Mental Health Foundation charity has identified five key areas in which developers, publishers, and other gaming companies need to do more in order to help gamers' mental health. These areas include dealing with toxicity, raising awareness, and more.

What are the five key areas in which companies can help gamers' mental health?

The links between gaming and mental health are well-established; companies like The Bodhana Group are demonstrating how gaming of all kinds can boost gamers' mental health. Now, however, new research from the Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity devoted to all things mental health, has identified five areas in which gaming companies should be doing more in order to help gamers view their hobby positively and get mental health benefits from gaming. These five areas are as follows.

 

  • Tackling harmful behaviors and toxic gaming communities
  • Taking on discrimination by ensuring that both games and the studios that make them espouse widespread and diverse representation
  • Embedding mental health content directly into games
  • Raising awareness of mental health within the gaming community at large
  • Helping players game "more intentionally" with design features
Night In The Woods, a game that highlights mental health issues as per the Mental Health Foundation's recommendation
Games like Night in the Woods are highlighting mental health issues, which the Mental Health Foundation says is instrumental to improving the discourse around mental health in gaming.

These recommendations come as part of major research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, which surveyed 24 British gamers between the ages of 18 to 60. The study asked the players to track gameplay and mental wellbeing in a gaming log over the course of three weeks. The results were gathered in an impressively comprehensive report by the Mental Health Foundation, which is rather long, but it does make for fascinating reading if you're interested in gaming and mental health (as we all should be). Funding for the Mental Health Foundation's report came from the Jingle Jam, a Yogscast charity initiative offering bundles of games, with proceeds going to a number of charities including some dedicated to gaming and mental health. The report comes alongside a video, which not only shows the results of the Foundation's research, but also tells you how you can start your own gaming log if you're so inclined. You can check that video out here.

The Foundation's research contains some interesting conclusions. Gamers identified that games were useful for escaping worries, for example, but many said that specifically completing small tasks felt "mentally satisfying" and eased anxiety further. However, somewhat depressingly, the gamers in the study still felt the "perception of being judged" by society in general made them reluctant to talk about their hobby with non-gamers. As expected, while multiplayer gaming created connections, it also exposed players to "harmful online behavior", which has deep-seated implications for mental wellbeing. The full report makes for sobering food for thought, so make sure to check it out.

 
 

What is the gaming industry doing to help mental health?

At the moment, there are several initiatives underway to help gamers with their mental health. A number of charities are providing resources for gamers to help them navigate the hobby with a focus on mental health, and it's becoming more of a talking point in the industry as a whole, especially when it comes to issues such as crunch (which some studios are now making a point of actively avoiding). In an industry where companies like Paradox, Activision Blizzard, and Ubisoft are being hit by constant toxic workplace allegations, mental health discussions are more important than ever, and they're becoming part of the conversation around employee wellbeing. Major creatives like Castlevania's Adi Shankar are also opening up more about mental health, which will hopefully help people to feel that they can share their own experiences as well.

Trevor Belmont in Netflix's Castlevania adaptation
Creatives like Castlevania's Adi Shankar are sharing more information about their mental health.

If you want to know more about gaming and mental health, we'd strongly recommend you check out the Safe In Our World website, which has lots of resources to guide you through this issue. You can also check out charities such as CheckPoint and Take This, both excellent organizations that are also aiming to raise the level of discourse around mental health in gaming. We're firm believers in the positive power of gaming for mental health here at TechRaptor, but there's lots more to be done, so let's hope this Mental Health Foundation research causes more gaming companies to sit up and take notice.

 
 

TechRaptor has partnered with Safe in Our World, a charity focused on mental health awareness in gaming. We joined their LevelUp program in order to offer more resources and support to all of our team members. Visit our blog to learn more, or donate to their cause.