1. What inspired your interest in examining mental health needs among game developers?
When I began working with the games community initially it was very consumer focused. I attended industry events to try to evaluate how to best reach a gaming audience, and in doing so networked with a lot of developers. Through our conversations, I became aware that mental health issues were an unspoken burden that many devs seemed to be bearing, and that indeed the structure of the industry itself might actually be contributing to or feeding that in some way.
2. What are some mental health challenges either unique to game developers as compared to other cohorts of people?
No matter where you are or what size the studio, there seem to be pervasive issues in game dev. They're difficult to challenge or address, because they're often acknowledged as "normal"; things such as crunch culture, increasingly untenable competition, and a lack of external support. Because it's a relatively young industry, there's a lack of knowledge about the risks of letting these things go unchecked, and a great lack of understanding from the wider community about what game dev really is, leaving those individuals further isolated.
3. What more do you think the developer community can do to make the industry a healthier workplace for individuals?
Talk about this! Evaluate studio culture, protocols and structure to see whether there's anything that could be contributing to burnout and other mental health issues amongst employees. Request consultation from outside sources (like CheckPoint!) to assist implementing mental health policies. Most importantly, acknowledge this really is a thing that needs addressing, and that all studios' productivity and outputs would benefit from actually doing so.
4. How can games themselves be engines for improvements in health? How can developers harness that power?
There's strong evidence to suggest that games have numerous benefits for mental health and wellbeing, including improving mood, emotional regulation, reducing stress, increasing resilience, and contributing to social wellbeing. There's even studies linking specific games - both bespoke and off-the-shelf commercial games can be effective at improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. We're not fully sure the exact mechanisms underpinning this but there are some good hypotheses that revolve around a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness, as well as immersion and flow state.
More info: https://checkpointorg.com/games-research/
5. What are some good resources for developers with questions about mental health?
CheckPoint contains a wealth of information that is developer focussed and personalised to their needs. There's everything from generalised information to specific mental health model (the aptly named AAA model) which teaches and reinforces a cycle of being aware of one's inner mental state, and acting to improve it, dynamically throughout the day. It's designed to be effective even in heavy crunch times.