IGDA Take This Talk: The Emotional Effects of Layoffs

Edited by Anthony Ritchey and Tim Cullings 
With Contributions by
Dr. Raffael Boccamazzo

During a recent career night, coordinated by the Seattle chapter of IGDA and hosted at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in collaboration with many local Seattle game studios to help out career professionals impacted by the recent industry layoffs, Clinical Director, Dr. Raffael Boccamazzo, or “Dr. B” as he’s better known from the nonprofit organization Take This, presented a question and answer-style chat about the emotional effects related to recent industry layoffs.

Take This has been setting up public-facing booths at many local organizations and social events, informing the public of their slogan, “It’s dangerous to go alone”, emphasizing the importance of mental health awareness in the gaming industry. Their focus is on the emotional health of members within these groups, stressing the importance of how mental health is a major component in the game industry. It’s no surprise that with layoffs continuing to impact the gaming industry Dr. B. stepped up to the plate for this Q&A.

Dr. B has been facilitating Take This, in both the background and foreground of many gaming conventions, such as PAX and E3, among several others — — raising awareness and offering support wherever the team goes. Their pursuit to combat mental health stigma and raising awareness has been met with overwhelming support from all gaming communities and businesses they’re associated with since 2012.

Photo Credit: Anthony Ritchey

He began the session with the truth: “layoffs suck”.

“I was really struggling with what to talk with you all about because I’d love to come in and be all ‘Pollyanna’ and say let’s play ‘the glad game’, but layoffs suck, so let’s just get that out on the table; layoffs suck. There is nothing good on a human level about layoffs.”

But the worst thing you can do after a layoff? Denying your emotions.

“There’s a line from Paradise Lost I love: “Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light,” which is a really poetic way of saying: “bite down and deal with it”, the only way out is through it, so denying the emotions that you’re feeling is a terrible thing. Whatever you’re feeling, that is the right emotion to be feeling.”

Dr. B then opened up the floor to questions from the audience, ranging from asking about why we hold so much of our identity to our jobs to how we can maintain a positive attitude after a layoff while looking for work elsewhere, and much more. Dr. B provided great advice throughout the conversation, and two pieces of advice stood out the most:

  • Try to find hobbies that are outside of your normal line of work. When the work you do for a living is something you’re passionate about, it can be difficult to disengage when things aren’t going well. Having hobbies in different fields can broaden your perspectives as well.
  • Lean on your friends, especially those in the same industry as you. Your peers are more likely to understand the ups and downs of applying and interviewing for jobs, getting rejected, and moving forward to the next one. It’s always good to get multiple perspectives to help ease your anxieties.

The correlation between mental health and the gaming industry traces decades back. By raising public awareness, offering aid, and teaching others to face these challenges head-on he and the rest of the hardworking individuals at the Take This nonprofit have taken the first critical steps in promoting mental health issues.

If we can all continue to be cognizant of our peers and ourselves, our emotions, and a little advice from Dr. B, we can overcome layoffs, their emotional effects, and be able to move forward.

Take This Mental Health Resources include:

  • Crisis Lines
  • Therapist Directories
  • Online Therapy Resources
  • Self-Care Tools
  • Streaming Resources
  • Online Harassment Support
  • Apps and Other Tools

Takethis.org is nonprofit organization targeting mental health awareness and providing support for those in the gaming industry, offering free tools and consultations to local businesses.

You can find more information at: http://www.takethis.org/