This weekend is the Play & Talk invitation. From Friday 8th October to Sunday 10th October there are materials and opportunities to find gaming-related advice on positive mental health.
Alongside the work done by the industry and partners, it's an opportunity for parents and guardians to discover new ways to engage with their children around video games. Even as a video game journalist this is something I need reminding about. Practical ways to find new (and old) games to play with my children are always welcome.
We've recently been enjoying Rainbow Billy's engagement with personality and mental health in a Paper Mario style game. Also, Bonfire Peaks is a puzzle game that asks deeper questions and has got the family talking. More light hearted games have been enjoyed as well. Most recently Catlateral Damage, where you play a cat causing chaos in an apartment. It always gets us laughing together.
In particular, I was interested to hear about the campaign partnering with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) Better Health Every Mind Matters initiative. There's the opportunity to complete a free NHS-assured Mind Plan, answering five simple questions to receive a personalised action plan of tips and advice to support their wellbeing. This is something I'm looking forward to doing myself, and my children have also expressed an interest in completing it.
Clare Perkins,Deputy Director of Personalised Prevention, OHID said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Ukie’s Play & Talk weekend, to help players take positive steps to look after their mental health. There are little things we can all do to improve our wellbeing and it’s important to find out what works for you. The Every Mind Matters campaign has lots of tips and advice to help get you started, such as the free Mind Plan quiz with personalised ideas to help boost your mood and feel more in control.”
Elsewhere the industry is taking the chance to engage on the issue. “We hosted our first Play & Talk weekend in June 2020 to bring players together during lockdown,” said Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie. “With Covid having taken a considerable mental toll on all of us, we want to come together again as an industry to encourage players and streamers to talk and support each other.”
Ian O’Reilly, Head of Community & Events Fundraising at Mind, said: “Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the gaming community has united to raise over £500,000 for Mind. This money helps us to be there for as many people who need us as possible by enabling us to continue to provide services like Mind Infoline, which offers confidential information and support, our legal line, and our online peer support community for adults, Side by Side. We are really grateful to this incredible community for their ongoing energy and passion in gaming for better mental health, and we look forward to what’s in store over Play & Talk Weekend.”
Other activity includes:
- An Apex Legends tournament from Gaming Merchant and Simply Ashton, with the support of the team from Electronic Arts in the UK.
- A panel at EGX dedicated to games and mental health, featuring Ellen Rose from Outside Xtra and Rosie Taylor from Safe in our World.
- A Friday evening stream from Futurlab highlighting Powerwash Simulator to demonstrate the calmer side of play.
- Mental health messaging being included in games by Codemasters to support the Every Mind Matters campaign.
Whether you get involved with these events, or just use this weekend as a chance to draw breath, reset and find some new ways (and new virtual places) in which to connect and talk, it's a timely reminder to look after ourselves and those we love.
Head to www.ukie.org.uk/playandtalk for more information on how to participate.