Splash Damage is supporting the Stay in the Game Relief Fund

This May we’re raising money and awareness for the ‘Stay in the Game Relief Fund,’ an industry-wide effort to support the work of four crucial nonprofit organisations for the gaming community. You can aid us in our efforts by following that link.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our industry in untold ways; from developers to players, to studios and beyond. Lockdown measures, self-isolation, unemployment, furloughing, etc are taking their toll on all of us, and these organisations are here to help.

  • Take This envisions a game community that welcomes and supports people experiencing mental health challenges. 
  • Global Game Jam celebrates the positive cultural value of games by hosting the world’s largest annual game creation event.
  • IGDA-Foundation focuses on diversity and champions aspiring, international game developers in marginalized communities. 
  • The Games and Online Harassment Hotline provides text message-based emotional support to folks in and around the games industry.

You’ve likely heard of some of these organisations already, perhaps even interacted with some. Broadly speaking, they are here to decrease stigma and support the mental health of our community, create supportive environments, and ensure that our industry is as safe and inclusive as possible.

For anyone who’s followed us the past couple of years, you’ll know how important those values are to us.

MENTAL HEALTH AT SPLASH

We’re not alone in recognising the importance of this. In UKIE’s Diversity Census published earlier this year, we saw the shocking statistic that 31% of the UK games industry suffers from anxiety and/or depression, a marked increase on the national average of 17%.

The mental health of our staff is paramount, especially during this extremely challenging time. We’d been working incredibly hard before we transitioned to working from home to normalise conversations around mental health; we’ve hosted speakers, set up slack channels, hosted a Wellbeing Week, trained Mental Health First Aiders, and more.

Transitioning to working from home has been challenging for us all though, and while the above efforts are good, we knew we’d have to adapt to meet the needs of our staff in these new circumstances.

“Training our line managers on mental health issues has been an important step in ensuring that these things are spotted early,” said Kate, Head of HR. “It cannot be left until an employee is at breaking point. It was absolutely critical when we first did this that managers were quick to talk to their employees on a one-to-one basis about what was going on, to be open and honest, and have that dialogue.”

That training has been crucial in this transition; line managers are encouraged to regularly check-in on the mental health of their reports, but we’ve also formalised that check-in, adding specific mental health questions to our regular employee conversations.

Regularly checking in with one another is just one way we’ve tried to make working from home on this scale feel “normal” (at least as normal as it can). Maintaining the regular cadence of communication staff are used to has been important, but we’ve made sure that we have a daily email from the Exec team; an informal check-in, it might have some company news or highlight initiatives from a particular team or department. At the very least it helps to maintain a feeling of togetherness.

That extends to our internal newsletter as well. That initiative started to make sure we all felt connected as people, not just colleagues. Our latest issue highlighted some of our staff who were willing to talk about how they’re managing their own mental health, offering up tips and advice to people who might feel like they’re struggling.

WHY THIS CAUSE IS IMPORTANT

Ultimately, though, offering tips, maintaining company communication, and having regular syncs can only go so far in supporting staff. That’s why initiatives like the four this fund supports are crucial. We need to make sure that our staff can get professional, specialised support, and that’s why we’re supporting the Stay in the Game Relief Fund.

Despite all of our efforts to make staff feel accustomed to discussions around mental health, and our efforts to make remote working feel as “normal” as possible, we have to acknowledge that these are unprecedented times. We’ll continue to listen to our staff to understand what they need as the days and weeks pass and making sure we do everything we can to meet those needs.