17th June 2020: This weekend, 20th–21st June, the UK games industry is calling on the British public to gather online to play and talk together in a united effort to tackle loneliness in the UK.
The PLAY & Talk weekend is taking place during National Loneliness Awareness Week and is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) #Let’sTalkLoneliness campaign, which aims to tackle the stigma of loneliness.
Across the Play & Talk weekend people of all ages, whether or not they consider themselves video game players, are encouraged to find just one hour to play together online, re-connect with loved ones or friends and have a conversation with the aim of reducing loneliness.
A recent survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found people aged 16 to 24 are more than twice as likely (50.8%) to have experienced loneliness during the ongoing lockdown combating the global COVID-19 pandemic.
"Video games have given many of us a form of escapism in lockdown and brought many people together as they connect online,” commented Creative Industries Minister Caroline Dinenage MP. “So this weekend, as part of our Let's Talk Loneliness campaign, I encourage people to pick your game of choice, play with family and friends but also take time to talk about how you are feeling and faring.
“We have to take a variety of approaches to tackle loneliness and I am delighted that the video games sector is on board supporting our important work in this area."
Play & Talk is being supported by more than 50 video game businesses including EA, 2K, Ubisoft, Sega and Wargaming. It is also being supported by influencers, including The Yogscast Network, to share directly with their communities.
“We’ve seen people around the world turn to video games to socialise and have fun with friends and family during the pandemic,” said Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie). “It’s when we’re in these friendly and relaxed environments that we feel most at ease opening up, and right now there’s no better or safer way for people to do that than in video games.”
To support the initiative, askaboutgames has put together some practical tips on how to take part in the Play & Talk weekend, as well as some suggestions for family-friendly games people can play together online. While there, parents and carers can also read more about the Get Smart About P.L.A.Y campaign, offering advice about family controls on video game consoles.
The Play & Talk Weekend follows the Games for Carers initiative, which saw the UK video game industry make thousands of video games available for free to NHS workers to say thank you for their heroic efforts during the pandemic.
In April Ukie also announced a partnership with CALM to highlight the positive effects video games have had during lockdown.
The full list of partners for the Play and Talk weekend are: 2K Games, Aardman, Aardvark Swift, Access Creative, Akolyte, Alzheimer's Research UK, Amazon, Amiqus, Antstream, askaboutgames, Auroch Digital, BAME in Games, Betajester, The BGI and National Video Game Museum (NVM), Bossa Studios, Cambridge FX, Coatsink, Codemasters, Codewizards, Creative Assembly, Creeper Host, Curve Digital, Dovetail Games, EA, Eaton Smith, Edge, EpicLan, Etch, Excalibur Games, Extended Thinking, Genba, GG Insurance, Goldsmiths University, Indigo Pearl, Jagex, LDN UTD, Mediatonic, Mimram Media, Ndreams, Nintendo, Playtra, Pqube, Riot Games, Ripstone, Sega, Southampton University, Spilt Milk, Square Enix, S-Tech, Sugar, Team 17, Trailmix Games, Tripp Associates, Ubisoft, University of Brighton, Upgraded, ustwo, Warchild, Wargaming, Waste Creative and Women In Games.
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Ukie is the trade body for the UK's games and interactive entertainment industry, representing over 480 games businesses and organisations across the country.
A not-for-profit, it represents businesses of all sizes creating and publishing games across all platforms as well as a wide range of partner members providing valuable services to the video games industry.
Ukie also runs or contributes to a number of additional initiatives aimed at supporting the sector including Digital Schoolhouse, responsible play site askaboutgames.com and Games London (created in partnership with Film London).