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Spotlight on mental health in games industry


Former student sat down holding book next to video game arcade machine

Looking after the mental health of people who work in the video games industry has come under the spotlight in a book by a former University of Bradford student.

Harun Ali’s book, The Pocket Mentor for Video Game Testing, gives advice for people who are looking to get into the video games industry and those who already work in it. Harun works as an associate producer for No Brakes Games and was previously a video game tester. 

In the book’s chapter, Looking After Yourself (Mental Health and Your Rights), Harun looks at the effects that the demands of the business have on its employees including burnout, heavy workload and imposter syndrome. 

He suggests turnaround of the industry’s employees is high, with people working an average of between three to five years before they may decide to leave due to stress-related reasons. 

A book surrounded by video games console joypads and video game boxes

In the book’s mental health chapter, Harun writes: “Many people want to work in the video game industry and want to prove themselves. 

“When people think of games, they usually think of the company behind it. People don’t necessarily think about the human faces behind video game development.”

Harun, who graduated in 2015 with a BA (Hons) Graphics for Games from the University of Bradford, also puts the gaming industry into perspective, to ease some of the mental health pressure on those working within it. 

Pace yourself 

He suggests ways to reduce the effects of burnout which include spreading a person’s workload, taking time out for breaks from work or times away to recharge with friends and family.

Harun also advises that people in the industry pace themselves and do not work excessive hours. A break from activity on social media is also suggested in the book to boost a person’s mental health. 

Harun writes: “Try to pace yourself. It’s easy to go over the top or to do excessive hours. Always take care of yourself first, if you feel stressed or have too much workload. Remember that you’re working on a game, you’re not saving lives.”

The chapter also discusses imposter syndrome, where someone doubts that they have the ability to successfully do a job. It also offers advice on how gaming employees can fend off imposter syndrome. These include keeping messages of praise for your work that you have previously received, to help maintain a positive mindset. 

Harun added: “Even if there are mistakes and some failures, reframe them into learning opportunities.

“If you feel that your mental health is declining, try to find help, don’t bottle things away or avoid dealing with your issues, as it can be very unhealthy.”

The book’s chapter also features the views of Sky Tunley-Stainton and Rosie Taylor, who work for Safe in Our World, a mental health organisation aimed at the games industry. They say there are high expectations put on people who work in the gaming industry.

The chapter has details on gaming industry-specific mental health organisations including Safe in Our World and Check Point. 

Mental health support 

Meanwhile, the University of Bradford has a number of services available to its students on mental health and wellbeing. 

Students can download the UoB Well app, which is designed by students for students to help with their mental health and wellbeing. It includes a self-help section and advice on where students can receive professional help with their mental health. 

A Calm Room is also available at the University of Bradford during term time to provide sounds and images in a low-lit space to help relax those people who use it. 

Other mental health help services available for students include access to Student Space, a service run by Student Minds. 

This service offers advice and information on mental health and wellbeing, friendships and social life, grief and loss. Counselling services are also available for students at the university.

The Pocket Mentor for Video Game Testing by Harun Ali, priced £29.99, by Routledge, is available now from