Gaming

Ukie partners with charity CALM to ‘highlight the mental health benefits of bringing people together’ during COVID-19 pandemic



UK games industry trade organisation Ukie has partnered with suicide prevention charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), “to highlight the mental health benefits of bringing people together during intense lockdown with the help of games”.

“The world is on pause” campaign aims to encourage people forced to stay at home under lockdown or isolation rules to “use the powerful social nature of games to bring family, friends, and communities together while maintaining healthy play habits” as “more people than ever” are connecting via video games.

To aid the campaign, a number of supportive resources have also been released, including practical advice on how to use online games, tips on how to play together at home with families, and recommendations from CALM for games that can be played online or offline effectively.

“Gaming can be an incredible force for good, especially during these unprecedented times of quarantine and isolation,” said Ben Hawley, marketing and communications director, CALM said: “While social distancing keeps people apart, the need to connect and socialise remains which is why we’re delighted to team up with Ukie to launch this initiative. More and more people are turning to online gaming as a place for solace, which is why it’s important to encourage healthy gaming habits to ensure we stay on top of our mental wellbeing.”

“It’s essential that people stay at home to save lives,” added Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie. “But we want to do our bit to ensure that social distancing doesn’t transform into isolation. Working with CALM has helped us find an effective way to prevent that and we hope this resource can keep people talking with one another.”

Ukie recently partnered with Ask About Games to create the Family Video Game database, a new resource “on everything about games including the family controls that help parents and carers manage the amount of time games can be played at home”. It also recently revealed Ukiepedia, a “shared industry resource collating facts, stats, and other useful information about the UK and global games industry”. 

The coronavirus is affecting games all over the world and in a myriad of ways. In response to the pandemic, E3 2020 has been cancelled, as has GDC and EGX Rezzed  – although it subsequently ran as a digital event – and Develop:Brighton 2020 has been postponed to November. Both Mojang and Electronic Arts have cancelled scheduled live events

Gamescom, however, still opens to proceed as planned. BAFTA revised the format of its recent Games Awards in light of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), too.

Bungie, EA, Nintendo and now Rockstar have all implemented homeworking to minimise staff exposure to the virus whilst Pokémon Go developer Niantic has made changes to the game to enable players to continue participating even whilst in self-isolation. The increase in people working from home and/or self-isolating, however, has put a strain on online services like Xbox Live and Nintendo Switch Online

A number of publishers have teamed up to create GDC Relief Fund to assist indie devs who may have lost money on paying in advance for the now-cancelled GDC. Sony says it will do “all we can” to support the individuals on the frontlines of battling COVID-19.

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