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Gaming company Riot Games recently announced a partnership with mental health group Take This with a focus on creating safe mental spaces for players, particularly BIPOC players.
Announced on Sept. 1, the new project will include panel discussions in video format about the mental health of Black, Indigenous and people of color gamers. The topics that’ll be discussed include not only their mental health but also what the experience of BIPOC gamers in the healthcare system is like.
Led by a mental health clinician, the discussions will feature game makers and creators in conversation with the gamers; following each session, each session will be uploaded on the Take This YouTube page.
Along with the panels, a mental health curriculum will also be created for all gamers. Developed by Take This, the curriculum will be free of charge. With the first part on burnout already having been held on the first of this month, the lessons will address self-care, advocating for mental health and developing boundaries between players. Intersectionality between playing and creating as well as suicidal contemplations will also be discussed.
“I am so proud of Riot Games for their continued work in making gaming better for everyone-including creators,” said professional gamer Aureylian on Twitter in reaction to the news. “The partnership with Take This will provide creators with the resources for mental health and find healthier ways to do what they love.”
Mental health struggles amongst gamers, particularly BIPOC gamers, have been well documented in recent years as gaming expands to the world of augmented reality.
In a 2021 study by the University of California, researchers looked at the mental toll racism in the gaming world took specifically on just BIPOC players. Looking at the data of 765 BIPOC gamers, they found that more time gaming subjected the participants to increased online racism, leading to higher psychological distress. Along with reports of increased stress, the participants also reported less satisfaction with life and social support.
The increased rates of mental distress as an indirect effect of racism were particularly high and the most consistent amongst Black gamers; overall, the researchers found that this was because they spent the most time gaming when compared to the Asian and Latino participants involved in the study and were, therefore, subjected to more aggressions.
Other mental health effects of gaming that can potentially afflict gamers of different ethnicities and racial groups include anxiety, psychosocial issues and internet gaming disorder, according to a recent 2020 report by Harvard Medical School.