FutureFive NZ - Kickstarter project seeks to promote mental health through gaming heroes

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Kickstarter project seeks to promote mental health through gaming heroes

A dedicated team is looking to create a breakthrough webseries that uses the power of video games to help those with mental illnesses.

The non-profit organisation CheckPoint has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the AU$55,000 needed for the series, which will be a 16-episode webseries called CHECKPOINT - the first project of its kind.

The high-quality series will include evidence-based advice from mental health professionals and experience from everyday heroes in the gaming industry, including developers, content creators and journalists.

The company hopes the project could change — and save — people’s lives. Globally, one in four experience mental illness, with two thirds never seeking help.

Josh Scherr is the writer for the award-winning Uncharted series for Naughty Dog. He says that he discovered Checkpoint through a game-developer’s conference this year and their presentation resonated with his experiences as a game developer and gamer living with a panic disorder.

"It's something I wish I'd seen back in 2001, when I was going through the worst of it. Feelings of shame, fear, and helplessness are all too common among those suffering from mental health issues,” he says.

“Often, it makes taking that first step towards seeking help incredibly difficult. Easy to access resources, such as this video series, are often invaluable in helping people get past that initial hurdle, and as such, can be life-changing (if not outright life-saving).”

Dr Jennifer Hazel, CheckPoint’s founder and executive director, says the project has three aims.

It will “Raise awareness for mental health issues, reduce stigma, and improve the wellbeing of people all over the world. And we're going to use games and game culture to do it,” she says.

The series will have two parts: The first will take a broad look at mental health, focusing on awareness and ways to get help. The second part will show how video games can be used to promote positive well-being.

CheckPoint has been heavily involved in taking mental health issues to gaming communities. In 2016, Dr Hazel presented at IndieCade Game U. This year she spoke at the Game Developers Conference.

"The gaming community has embraced our work with open arms. They have helped us get to where we are and we hope that what we provide makes it all worth it,” Dr Hazel says.

“Gaming brings people together, there's evidence to prove games can treat anxiety, depression, improve mood, and so much more. We truly believe that we can improve the lives of people all over the world by using the wonderful power of video games - and that this is the community which will help us do it,” she concludes.

The Kickstarter campaign will end on June 3 and will be part of Twitch’s Monster Marathon Fundraising Stream.

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