R U OK? Day is about reaching out to others for support with mental health struggles, but a recent report on gaming in Australia suggests that one of the country’s fastest growing communities is being forgotten.
R U OK? Day is on Thursday September 14, and this year’s theme is “I’m here to hear,” focusing on finding the right environment for supporting people.
Many events are being held in support of the day, such as UOW’s event, but with the focus on physical environment, it leaves people in digital spaces detached from the campaign.
The last time gaming was integrated into the R U OK? Campaign was in 2019, and in the four years since, the Australian gaming landscape has grown massively, as shown by the 2023 Australia Plays report published by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) in August.
“Over the past two years, we’ve seen the biggest increase in the number of Australians playing video games; from 67% (17 million) in 2021 to 81% (21 million) in 2023,” the report said.
The report also revealed that players are turning to gaming for support, with 70 per cent of users playing games to improve their mental health.
“People have their methods to enjoy their days and improve their mental health, whether it’s to relax, have fun, or to perfect a skill,” video game player Harrison Ollis said.
“For some it’s music, sport or maybe simply socialising or competing. I reckon no matter how someone wishes to improve their mental health, a game can provide that.”
Mr Ollis also said that online spaces can bring out different sides of people, and make for a less pressured environment.
“Online there isn’t any pressure to look a certain way, or the concern of others around in public. It provides a more relaxing environment, and I feel it makes it a lot easier to connect without the added social stressors,” he said.
The Australia Plays report supports this, with 59% of gamers saying they enjoy socialising within games, and that that is how they forge connections.
“Through video games I met my two best mates and it’s a group of friends I wouldn’t have otherwise,” an anecdote from the report said.