Mental Health Foundation Calls On Games Industry To Do More

Addressing mental health has become a goal for many developers and publishers in the video game industry. Not only are devs talking about these issues with audiences via their games, but an increasing number of employees have spoken up against crunch and the harassment they've faced in the industry. However, UK based non-profit, Mental Health Foundation, is asking developers to do more for their players.

As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the foundation conducted a research where it studied the gaming habits of 24 players and also asked them to keep a log of their game time and mental health. Based on its findings, the foundation published a list of five action points that developers could target:

  1. Tackle harmful behaviours and toxic communities
  2. Tackle discrimination by ensuring that there is meaningful, inclusion and representation in the design of games and in the industry
  3. Embed mental health content in games
  4. Raise awareness of mental wellbeing in the gaming community more broadly
  5. Help players game more intentionally via design features

While the latter four points would be relatively simpler to take action on – and many developers already have – the first point is something almost every online game struggles with. Curbing toxic communities, abusive chats, and online bullying needs constant vigilance and moderation. While most online games have procedures put in place to ban users for toxic behaviour, they keep finding new ways to get around them.

"Observing our own habits is the first important step ahead of being able to make any positive changes," said Catherine Seymour, head of research for the Mental Health Foundation. "The industry could support more self-awareness and 'intentional' gaming via in-game design (features or content) and/or communications via other channels."

"The games industry has a huge role in reaching people who need to protect their mental health. The industry has enormous potential to act as a source for good in helping to promote mental wellbeing," said the foundation in a statement to developers. "What's more, our study shows that players are expecting the games industry to take action on this. Players are asking you to do more: not because you have to, but because you have the opportunity and power to make a positive difference to their lives."

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