Eve Crevoshay is the Executive Director at Take This, a mental health research, advocacy, and training nonprofit serving the game community. She’s a 20-year veteran in the nonprofit sector with experience in education, social services, and the arts. Eve sits on the advisory boards for the Fair Play Alliance, the Game Developers Conference (GDC), and The International Game Summit on Mental Health. In 2022, she received the inaugural GamesBeat Up and Comer award, and in 2022, Eve was awarded the Games for Change Festival Vanguard Award.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Eve Crevoshay explains the mission of Take This
- Video game industry trends in regards to mental health
- AI’s impact on the human effect in gaming
- Eve expounds on the implications of the Bungie lawsuit
- Developing toxic-free video games
- Industry-related resources for professionals with mental health
- The benefits of having a quiet space in the workplace
- Building a work culture of inclusivity and positive mental health
In this episode…
A July 2023 Statista reports that the total amount of video games sold in the US was $4.19 billion. Video games play an intricate part in people’s lives and help with stress relief, relaxation, and mental stimulation. Unfortunately, bullying trends in the industry affect players and game developers. So, is it possible to design mindful products that protect mental health?
According to Eve Crevoshay, managing director of an organization focused on mental health in the gaming industry, technology has finally caught up with the issue of toxicity in video games and the gaming community. With this knowledge, companies' interest in safety is now a top priority. However, the creation of a toxic-free culture begins with leadership. Management can implement solutions such as setting working hours and boundaries in work contracts, designating quiet spaces, and offering resources and information on mental health. Eve also advocates for self-care in the gaming community, including adequate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and finding your safe space.
Join Lizzie Mintus in this episode of the Here’s Waldo Podcast as she interviews Eve Crevoshay, Executive Director of Take This, to discuss mental health in the gaming industry. Eve addresses the Bungie lawsuit, how gaming companies can design toxic-free video games, and building a work culture of inclusivity and positive mental health.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Here’s Waldo Recruiting
- Lizzie Mintus on LinkedIn
- Eve Crevoshay on LinkedIn
- Take This
- Tim Cullings on LinkedIn
- Global Game Jam
- Fair Play Alliance
- Game Developers Conference (GDC)
- The International Game Summit on Mental Health
Sponsor for this episode...
This episode is brought to you by Here’s Waldo Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in the video game industry that prioritizes quality over quantity and values transparency, communication, and diversity. We partner with companies, creatives, and programmers to understand the why behind their needs and provide a white-glove experience that ensures a win-win outcome.
The industry evolves. The market changes. But at Here’s Waldo Recruiting, our commitment to happy candidates and clients does not.
We understand that searching for the best and brightest talent can be overwhelming, so let our customer-first staff of professionals do the leg work for you by heading over to hereswaldorecruiting.com.
Welcome to the Here's Waldo podcast, where we sit down with top visionaries and creatives in the video game industry. Together, we'll unravel their journeys and learn more about the path they're forging ahead. Now, let's get started with the show.
Lizzie Mintus: I'm Lizzie Mintus, founder and CEO of Here's Waldo Recruiting, a boutique video game recruitment firm. This is the Here's Waldo podcast. In every episode, we dive deep into conversations with creatives, founders, and executives about what it takes to make a successful video game. You can expect to hear valuable lessons from their journey, and get a glimpse into the future of the industry.
This episode is brought to you by Here’s Waldo Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm for the video game industry. We value quality over quantity, transparency, communication, and diversity. We partner with companies, creatives, and programmers to understand the why behind their needs. We provide a white glove experience that ensures a win -win outcome.
Before introducing today's guest, I want to give a big thank you to Tim Cullings for introducing us. Tim is the executive director of the Global Game Jam and Seattle Indies. Check out more at globalgamejam.org. Today we have Eve Crevoshay with us. Eve joined Take This as executive director in 2018.
She is a 20-year veteran of the nonprofit sector and her background spends spans education, social services, and the arts. Eve is a member of the Advisory Board for GDC and the Fair Play Alliance and is the recipient of the inaugural Games Beat Up and Comer Award for 2020 and the 2022 Games for a Change Festival Vanguard Award.
Let's get started. Thanks for joining me here today. Glad Tim could connect us. First of all, can you tell us a little bit more about Take This in general, the organization, and your part in it?
Eve Crevoshay: Sure thing. Yeah, I'm really glad to be here, and I am likewise very glad that Tim was able to connect us. Take This is a mental health research, advocacy, and training nonprofit organization that serves the game industry and the game community.
We address all of the issues that contribute to or detract from mental well-being in games, in and around games, and look a lot at the root causes and structural issues that challenge mental well-being as well as being an advocate for therapy, accurate information about mental health challenges and mental illness.
We've been around for 10 years, as I said, as you introduced me, I've been here for half of that time and in that time, we've really grown from doing a really wonderful program, which we still do, and we'll be doing very soon at PAX West, which is called the AFK room program. And that is a quiet, supportive space at game conventions designed to help people rest and recoup and find their calm. Amongst the really intense experience of a game convention. And that's a really important program for us in terms of providing actual relief to folks who are experiencing a challenging and intense experience, but also, allowing us to start a conversation about mental health, because it's an opening of like, Hey, yeah, this is everybody has this experience and it there's ways to address it and we call it the most boring place on the convention floor on purpose. So it's a low stimulation place. And we've gone from that to really trying to work across the industry. We work with streamers. We have a streaming ambassador program. We have a bunch of resources for streamers and content creators around burnout prevention and managing suicide, suicidal ideation on stream, managing parasocial relationships. A lot of that stuff. We do workshops and training, consulting inside the industry on everything from studio culture and management styles and tools and conflict resolution, talking about bad news, psychological safety, burnout prevention, etc., to actual consultation on games, game mechanics, and game content around mental health and mental health portrayal, and mechanics that may be problematic for people, who experience mental health challenges.
And then we do just a ton of advocacy around mental health literacy and around some of the underlying issues. And then we do a bunch of research. And right now, our research is focused on extremist behavior in games. So extremist behavior in online spaces and the reason we're looking at that stuff, which doesn't immediately sound like it's related to mental health is because, the entire time we've been doing this work, people, when they talk about the challenges they experience, both people who make games and people who play games, they talk about toxicity, harassment, and online behavior as being one of the most challenging parts of being part of this game community.
And we take that really seriously. And we know that there's a lot of elements to that. And one of the elements to that is understanding how it plays out and what it means. And being able to reflect that back to the game-making community so that they have the tools that they need to really design better tools, better games, and better community environments to inoculate against that kind of behavior and to shift the norms and behaviors of the community in a more positive direction.
And that's what's really exciting. And then to also think about what are the best practices that we can identify and raise up across the industry. So that's what we do. We have our hands in a lot of different pots. We are actually a pretty small organization with about seven folks on our staff with a few other consultants who drop in as needed. So we try to do a lot with a very small and efficient team. It's a really cool team and it's a really exciting area of work and we're really pleased to be here.
Lizzie Mintus: I didn't realize you helped streamers, you help people that play games and people make games. So the entire ecosystem.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, because the entire ecosystem is really interconnected and so we see that the culture of a studio and the people that feel welcome in it impact the content and quality and design and approach of a game, which impacts the experience of playing and the experience of streaming. The culture is really of a piece and the ways that people interact in the norms and whether it is acceptable are shaped at every level of that interaction.
And so it's really important for us to be able to identify and speak to levers in all parts of that.
Lizzie Mintus: It makes sense how it's interconnected, but you wouldn't always think that my studio culture is going to impact how the game is made, which is going to impact how so many people end up feeling who are playing the game? What do you see as the industry trends right now, since it all correlates in games and how does that have implications are there around mental health and society?
Eve Crevoshay: There's a lot. When we talk about trends and games, we're talking about a huge industry, which is really quite diverse so there's a lot of different ways to answer that, but I will say that one of the things that we are really experiencing and seeing from our perspective is a really burgeoning and exciting and heartening recognition that trust and safety, community management, community design, and player interaction are really central to the experience of playing games, especially as they are really now social online experiences, multiplayer. And there's a real strong movement in games to take that seriously and to build out the tech and the design expertise and the kind of human knowledge base that's needed to bring all resources to bear. So we see a trust and safety AI, we see all kinds of cool community management, community design conversations. We see game design conversations happening. And that's really heartening. We have seen at a macro level, a lot of consolidation in the industry over the last few years, right? Really massive wave of acquisition rolling up and that's a tough environment in a lot of environments because it means that publishing is happening inside companies as opposed to more as opposed to studios, indie studios really having the space to access publishing opportunities. The funding environment has gotten tighter and I always say that indie studios and indie design is worth so much innovation and excitement. The beauty of the industry comes out first. It's a tougher time for that right now.
Those are cyclical trends and I think we'll see another round, of opening up over time. The industry continues to grow, it's not going to, it's not going anywhere. I have a lot of hope for that over time. And then the really big trend is, what are we going to do about AI and how does that impact everything? As you said, in your introduction, I sit on the GDC advisory board and we're really keen to see that AI conversation really develop. At the conference of 2024, and I think we're going to, we're going to be able to have that conversation in a lot of different ways. It's an important 1. There are the technical affordances and considerations. There's the human capital and labor conversation. What does this mean for people who do things and make things in games? And how do we really respect the human capital element of the people involved? And then there's also a set of questions around IP. Who owns this and who has the rights to make money off of it, etc.
Obviously, as a mental health organization, our concern is always: what is the human impact of this and how do we take care of people and recognize that people make and play games. But also recognize that there's complex problems. Games are really big and complex and hard to wrangle. And so what are the ways in which AI can really be additive to that experience in interesting ways? I see this, especially in interest and safety and moderation. Those are the big ones.
Lizzie Mintus: It'll be really interesting to see what happens with AI, but you're right. It's making a lot of people uneasy. That it will replace certain.
Eve Crevoshay: Oh, yeah. And that's not unique to games at all. It's happening across. There's a fever pitch to a conversation by AI across society. It's a major inflection point. I have a 12-year-old that my husband's been trying to get her to play with AI, because he's like listen, the Internet was our generation, I'm 45. So the Internet was our generations' inflection point. And it really transformed. It's wild how different the world is and how much it took us on this wild ride over the last 20, 30 years. I guess it's been about 25, 28 years for me in my consciousness. AI is my daughter's generation's internet. We don't even know what it's gonna be.
Lizzie Mintus: She's not using it to write her essays or anything like that?
Eve Crevoshay: She's using it. She's a writer and she's using it actually to brainstorm ideas and she uses it as a research and question answer. Yeah, it's wild.
Lizzie Mintus: And we'll see what happens with the strike and all.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, the strikes are going to be monumental and impacting where this goes.
Lizzie Mintus: I wanted to bring up the recent monumental Bungie lawsuit where they want to lawsuit against people that were harassing employees. I feel like that's going to change the industry a lot. I just wanted to get your thoughts on how companies can follow in bungee'sBungie's footsteps and what kind of situations because it's not a unique situation, but it's a unique resolution to the situation.
Eve Crevoshay: It is. Yeah. In fact, I did talk about this at GDC last year about how so this culture I've been talking about that creates a space where harassment is possible and normalized is a culture that included for a long time. This idea and I think a fear on the part of most game companies that the player is always right. And the player and this like the tyranny of the player. And we saw, we've seen that recently within the last three years. There's been a couple of high profile things that happened like there were some firings at ArenaNet a few years ago. Jessica Price- she talked back to a player. Basically, she was fired and so was her colleague and that happened not that long ago. And that happened at Bungie is really profoundly different. I think it's evidence of this dawning realization that there's a line that can't be crossed. Yeah. And that it's okay to tell players that they're doing something wrong and inappropriate.
We got some data through partnership with Nielsen, the consumer survey organization, and they provide us with some survey data from players who said that they actually make choices about where they spend money based often on how toxic that game is. And younger players in particular are more likely to not spend money on a game or not engage at all in a game if it is more toxic.
Which is the first time we've had real good data that says, no, players are walking away from games because they're toxic. it'sIt's really powerful data. This just came out like last month. It's a new piece of research. That gives us fuel to the fire of what Bungie is saying, if we clean up our games, we actually have a larger potential audience here, and so it's in our interest to do that. And one thing that I think. That spurred Bungie to be able to do that is because, you know, they took up, they took a step back a few years ago. This is maybe 4 years ago. Now he was pre pandemic and they, they said, hey, you know, we keep saying that we're making games that we love, but our audience is not just the people in the studio. The audience, our audience, is more diverse. Yes. So we need to recognize that we are making games for our audience to love. Who is that actually? And how do we respect those players and the full diversity of those players? And that's a really powerful and accurate statement. And it's really encouraging that Bungie did that.
And I think that's where it led them down that road of, okay, we need to then protect and welcome all of our players. And I see that trend, not just at Bungie, but they're a really powerful example. This is a great opportunity to welcome other people into games and think critically about how we design.
Now, that said, one of the challenges that we're faced with right now, and something that our research has shown, is that this kind of laissez-faire and also this tyranny of the player, this laissez-faire attitude to moderation, and has created, has normalized a culture of hate, harassment, and toxicity in games and extremism.
Players have learned that and they've taught each other that. And that means, that's a hardship to turn around. It doesn't just turn on a dime, magically. And so there's a lot of work to be done to shift player expectations, to shift player behavior, to shift norms, and to re-educate everyone about what's okay and what's not. There's no magic bullet. There's a lot of tools that need to come to, to need to be brought to the table to make that shift over time.
Lizzie Mintus: So what do you think makes a game so toxic? Do you think that guns or games where you shoot people are games that end up being more toxic? Or do you think that it's something about the player mechanics, something about the community, what makes a toxic game or in the inverse, how can you ensure that the game that you're making is not toxic?
Eve Crevoshay: So it's that's part of the challenge is that it's a complicated answer. We do know from a couple of decades of research that violent games do not cause violence in players. That research is in fact settled. There are certain types of game content and types of game tropes that foster certain perspectives and can facilitate certain ideologies. In a talk some of my colleagues gave last year at GDC, they were talking about this research that we've been doing about the game, the co-optation of certain game assets and game tropes by extremists, right?
And there's a wide range of how that's done and what that looks like. I don't want to call out specific games here, but there's been a lot of examples of game assets and ideology being co-opted.
I will call this out. So a few years ago, there was a Ubisoft game and it had some really racist tropes in it, politicized tropes, and the designer was like, no, no, no, our games aren't political. They are in fact political, like games and the choices you make about who's portrayed as good or bad and where things are set and what kind of scenarios, those are political choices.
We have to be aware of those and responsible for those as game designers. That said, primarily what we've seen is that, even in first-person shooters, even in violent games, if the community is monitored, designed, and moderated in a way that encourages friendly competition and fun, but not bad behavior and harassing behavior, then you get a better community. And you can do that in a variety of contexts. The challenge is that we've gotten so used to not doing that. And so used to just being, well, the players are toxic that it, that's really hard. And I will say that for a long time, we've had voice chat in games and we haven't had, for example, real-time voice moderation or real-time text moderation.
And we're getting to the point where those tools exist and that is functional. It did take some time for the tech to catch up to the problem. Because we can't do all of this. As you can see there's lots of different elements to this in terms of games are politicized. They're complex. Systems and economies in games have an impact on the way that players relate to each other, whether it's more or less antagonistic, all kinds of tools and ways of thinking about this.
The Fair Play Alliance has been doing some really interesting work around a playbook for digital thriving. They're working on it right now, and that's really exciting because that's thinking about the design element, but then there's also this pure moderation tech question that we're starting to be able to answer.
Lizzie Mintus: AI could be potentially very helpful.
Eve Crevoshay: Super helpful in that way. Yeah, 100%.
Lizzie Mintus: Will the Fairplay Alliance playbook be distributed to anybody that desires it?
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, it's still in development. They presented some of the concepts at GDC last year. I think it's slated for release in 2024 sometime. Talk to them, not me, about the specifics, but I've seen some of the, a lot of the early work, and I'm very excited about it. And there are other resources that Polaris Game Design Retreat is also doing some of this work. All of this stuff is designed to be open source and freely available to the community.
Lizzie Mintus: Okay, so that's if you're a studio that's looking to improve your game, your experience and everything. What if you work for a company and you're having mental health issues or somebody in your company that you're close to is having a mental health issue.What resources do you recommend to people?
Eve Crevoshay: TakeThis.org, we have a very easy to find mental health resources page. It includes some basic resources like emotional support hotlines, crisis hotlines, etc. worldwide. And also information about how to find a therapist, what it means to get therapy, how to advocate for yourself in therapy. We also have some places with advice on how to support others who may be experiencing mental health crises. What I will say is that from everything we know about mental health and mental well-being and mental illness, the most important protective factor, the most important contributor to resilience and well-being is your ability to have, find, and be in supportive community with others. Find your people. One of the things about games is that we have online community, and we have really fantastic online community. And you can often find your people that way. That functions similarly, not exactly the same as, but in similar ways to the in-person community, but finding people and getting support and identifying where that comes from is really important and then the basics of self care. The boring basics of getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, or moving your body, getting fresh air, unless you live in Seattle right now and it's smoky, but that's another story. All of those things are important. Doing things that are fun, engaging in play. Play is really important for all of us, whether we're two or we're, a hundred.
Lizzie Mintus: The same rules apply. I'm sure. Kids and adults, games and not games.
Eve Crevoshay: Yep. Yeah, that's my counseling. Now, for people who are in the industry, I have some very specific advice. As an industry, we come to games often with a lot of passion, and that's wonderful and beautiful. But passion can be weaponized, both by ourselves on ourselves and by others towards us. And we often think about passion in terms of how much we work, and that reflecting a dedication and in fact, that's not healthy. It's not sustainable, and it's not appropriate because at some point passion becomes an excuse for others to extract too much work from you. You're not getting compensated for it and your health is going to suffer. And your success as an employee is going to suffer. Our brains do not function well past a certain number of hours of work a week, 35 to 40. After that, our performance declines.
There's a lot of evidence to support that. And you're not the exception. And it's hard to recognize when your performance starts to decline at that point because you're already starting to get overtired and your mental acuity is going down. And there are long term stress effects on your body and your mind from overwork. So passion does not give you permission or an excuse to work too much ever. And no job that requires it expects that kind of commitment in the name of passion or anything else, over the long term. I recognize that crunch and short term situations happen sometimes, but an events happen, etc., etc. But long term cultural crunch that harm will harm your health over the long term and no job is worth that.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah. From a hiring perspective. It's funny. I was having this conversation today talking to somebody who's making $140 and wants a job for $20,000 more. And that's probably over the threshold of being comfortable to live, but the factor in consideration that I was trying to highlight was how much more you might be working for this amount of money. And does that really translate into hours for you.
Eve Crevoshay: And the truth is that probably it doesn't.
Lizzie Mintus: Probably not, I was going to say flat out that it doesn't.
Eve Crevoshay: It doesn't. Yeah. Here's the thing. There are certain things that problems that money solves. And we have to be clear right about that. At some point that you've gone past that threshold for sure. What sounds like a good idea when you're 25 and maybe single or don't have kids is not going to feel the same later on in your life when you're older and you have a family. If you have decided to have a family, all of those things are going to change drastically and the choices and habits you built at 25 or 22 or even 27 are not necessarily choices and habits that are going to sustain you long term.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, absolutely. It's an adjustment. And for me, it's always important to understand where somebody is in that. If you live by yourself with your cat and you love to make games and you want to go all in. It's a very different.
Eve Crevoshay: It is. But still, I want to caution like. It's still not a good idea if you live by yourself, whether you're a cat and you're 22, and you just graduated, you're still not going to give good performance at hour 45 or hour 60. And you still need to not do that. If you want to work on a side project, if you want to step away, but you need to have things that take you away from the work that you do. For pay, or you're not going to, you're not going to be okay long term.
Lizzie Mintus: Absolutely. Yeah, I would agree. I had another friend that I was helping him get a job on the side. He'll probably listen to this later, but sending me messages from a recruiter, but it was a questionable recruiter if they were real or if they weren't real. And there's so many issues with finding a job and knowing if it's a scam or not, or just having a hard time through the interview process. Right now, a lot of people are laid off. And from my perspective, a job search is a time of stress for most people and maybe something most people aren't fully aware of how to best utilize. Like how to get referrals and talk to other people and get a job. A lot of people apply, apply, and apply and get rejections and that's really hard too. Do you do any work around job seeking or interviewing?
Eve Crevoshay: No, We usually refer people out to other organizations and recruiters who are doing this work on a regular basis because we have in the past provided spaces for groups of people who've been laid off all at once to process. We run listening sessions sometimes and spaces for processing because that is an element of this. The job market and that job search process is really hard. It can be really intimidating. And I will say that, there are lots of resources. I would say that, at some point the financial considerations are the most important ones, but initially what you want is to remember what you're good at and remember that you have value in this process. Everybody does. And bring that to the table and stick up for yourself.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, people just out of us present themselves.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, and you're a recruiter, there's lots of recruiters and placement agencies. And there's these amazing job boards that are like, hosted as volunteer efforts. There's a bunch of those and there's things like the the game and the gig, the game industry gathering and other gathering spaces online that are designed to help people network and find each other across the industry. And those are really wonderful places to start.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah. Tell me about the highlight success story of Take This or where you think the organization has had the most dramatic impact since you've started. I know you touch so many different aspects.
Eve Crevoshay: I think that our ability to combine a conversation about studio culture, and mental well-being and make a case that the two are entwined and that they impact retention and success and sustainability, has really helped to shift conversation in the industry. And we've been doing that in 2018, we published a white paper on the state of mental health and games, and we've been building on that since with research, with workshops, with tools. We're primarily an advocacy organization. Our ability to shift the conversation and shift the starting point for what the norms are. That's really what's exciting.
It was really an affirmation and a lot of recognition when we were funded by the Department of Homeland Security to do this research on extremism because it was like, oh, yeah, we're a legitimate space here. We got funding alongside Middlebury Institute. That was pretty cool. But that's very much not the only thing we do. We've had the opportunity to give workshops at Dice. We've had the opportunity to give talks at GDC, and those are really important spaces where we, where our, where I feel like our impact is really being felt.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, I love that you have a quiet space during conferences. In recruiting agency, my job is talking to people, and I even feel overwhelmed at these conversations. It's so many people. If you were an introvert, how you would you be doing. ?
Eve Crevoshay: I have to go hibernate at night sometimes, that at GDC because I'm like, I can't take it anymore. I can't do it.
Lizzie Mintus: I met up with a woman who's wonderful, and she told me this is my social adventure for the year. I'm not going to go home for the rest of the year.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, we actually have a policy after events, because our staff doesn't get the AFK room because we run it. I think this is good policy in general. We have a policy that you take off time immediately after a major event that you've been at. So people get 2 to 4 days, depending on the length of the conference off. Sometimes we take it immediately after, sometimes we take it like a week later, but we are just like overworked. Conferences are major outlays of energy, even for extroverts. We need that time to restore ourselves before we can really jump back ineffectively.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, I would agree. And again, I think I'm on the extreme side. Are there any other companies that you feel like we talked about Bungie, but are really setting a great example for studio culture and inclusivity and just positive mental health for their employees.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, what I'll say is that we've worked with some really cool studios like Iron Galaxy and Hyper Hippo that are really taking employee wellness really seriously. Iron Galaxy, they do a lot of co-development and so they bake into their contracts the working hours of their employees, the boundaries around and that stuff is brilliant because the devil's in the details around sustainability and culture. There are some really interesting models of small studios that are doing cooperative development, taking employee ownership and benefit to a new level.
There are big studios that are really trying to wrestle through all kinds of DEI issues. I've talked to folks that at Ubisoft a lot. I've talked to folks that at Riot a lot. We work with both companies. And they have really problematic histories, right? They've been through some major exposes. What's interesting to see is the process, that messy process of them working towards something that's much more sustainable and positive and the real work that goes into that. The real work of developing spaces where employees can come together, opening up conversations, etc., and shifting culture slowly over time. Those are unfinished projects, but they are projects that are ongoing and in the right direction. The thing about work environments and studios doing the right thing is that this process is never finished. It's like an iterative process just like games.
The iteration of good culture is the doing of good culture. It's literally in the policies, the practices, the interactions, the calling in, the vulnerability and transparency of leadership. That is always an ongoing process.
As a leader, I know this intimately. I know it from my own perspective. I have to be vulnerable, transparent and clear on an everyday basis or the culture isn't sustained. It is the leaders that are doing that work themselves. I've seen it at Naughty Dog. I've talked to folks at a variety of places and it's the managers, the middle managers who are learning and growing and trying hard to support their employees without getting defensive or scared.
And that's just work. It's work that happens personally. People have personal transformational work to do to get there. It's work that's reinforced at an organizational and leadership level every day. It is hard, but it's possible. It's totally possible.
Lizzie Mintus: Everything good is a lot of work.
Eve Crevoshay: Exactly.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, that's how it works. If you're just starting, it's a huge undertaking, but if a company wants to begin, what are some common first steps? Is it just understanding the problem?
Eve Crevoshay: Like, as if they're just starting to try to think about their culture?
Lizzie Mintus: Maybe it's gotten to a bad place and they want to turn it around. What are some baby steps that you could take? I'm sure there are a million.
Eve Crevoshay: There are a million and 10. So when we start working with studios that are trying to confront cultural challenges, the first thing we do is look at leadership and say, are you truly bought in? And do you have the tools that you need to do this work? And then we start talking to people because people need to talk. People need to share their experience. They need to express their pain or their hurt or their problems or their fears. And we need to understand what that is and how it works and that level of sharing and transparency and the willingness of leadership to hear it is the absolute necessary first step.
Once we've done that, then we can say, then we're going to work on X, Y, and Z, because each studio is unique. And each set of challenges is unique. Both from a cultural perspective, where are they situated from a legal perspective from a structural, and because of the types of games they make, and the types of projects and the size that they are like, there's so many unique factors. But that process of being ready to listen and creating space for the expression of that harm is the necessary first step. That's where you start. Yeah. And we facilitate that a lot.
Lizzie Mintus: So your company will come in and partner, and it's you and you don't outsource it. It's your organization.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, so I'm not a clinical psychologist because I do nonprofit work and that's my background. My team is all clinicians, social workers, psychologists, therapists, and that expertise in facilitation and holding space is what is so profound. That we can bring to the table. And we have people of a variety of identities and lived experiences, and that's also really important to bring to the table. So we often ensure that the people who show who are facilitating sessions, share the identity of the people in the session. That's who does it. And they're really good at it. My team is amazing.
Lizzie Mintus: I love that. And you've been five years, which these days says a lot.
Eve Crevoshay: It's a long time. I know I have so much fun doing this work. I have to say, when I was a little baby college graduate. I want to change the world and I had no idea what that meant or how to do it. I had to figure that out and I didn't know where I would end up. I got a master's degree in communication studies, which is like cultural studies and rhetoric. I was like, I don't know what I'm doing. It took me a while to get to a place where I had the work experience and the pieces together. And I came to this job and I was like, we'll see how this works. And all of a sudden I was like, wait, I can do transformative cultural work here in an industry. How random, but what an amazing opportunity. And I feel so privileged to be able to do this work.
Lizzie Mintus: I love that you love it. And that means, yeah. I help people find each other and that's the best too, but it's a different.
Eve Crevoshay: Oh, it's that's equally as rewarding.
Lizzie Mintus: What is so rewarding? It's chutes and ladders. There's so many things that can go wrong, right? There's so many reasons that it goes sideways, but when it works and people are screaming with joy, like they're squealing to you on the phone. This is my dream job. That's the best.
Eve Crevoshay: That is amazing. That's so cool.
Lizzie Mintus: There's a lot of wonkiness along the way.
Eve Crevoshay: Oh yeah. We have all kinds of wonkiness in our work too. People who are scared and conversations that don't go right and organizations that don't have the tools they need, structural issues that just push back... that is part of the work. It's hard work, but that's okay.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, you just have to get onto the next for sure. We talked about it evolving, but how can people stay ahead of the curve in terms of mental health? Because things are moving so fast.
Eve Crevoshay: So fast. So I will answer this first on a personal level, and then I'll answer it at a structural level. So on a personal level, the way that you stay ahead of your own mental health is super boring and prosaic. And it literally is self care, good boundaries. There's a tool that, I was introduced in my own therapy process called self-compassion and it comes from Buddhist philosophy, but it's been studied as a psychological tool in psychology. Pretty substantially, it's really cool. And self-compassion is the idea that we function better... as human beings, our brains do better when we are kind to them, when we are kind to ourselves, when we build ourselves up and not put ourselves down. And when we take time to build mindfulness or self reflection and perspective taking basically into our lives, into our process. Keeping ourselves well, keeping ourselves healthy and then also giving ourselves time for mindfulness and reflection so that we can recognize the signs in ourself where we might be not okay, where we might be escalating towards an outburst or a breakdown or just a real moment of conflict. But we don't have that space unless we set good boundaries. So we have really solid boundaries around when we're working, when we're not, how much energy we put out into the world and how much we get back and having clarity about what those boundaries are. One of the most important ones when we're talking about work is when you stop working and ensuring that when you stop working, you're actually done. I just took a 3 week vacation. I did not work. Not everybody's going to get 3 weeks off in the middle of the summer. I recognize that. We have a generous leave policy that I crafted. If you're off, you need to be off because otherwise you're not getting the benefit of being away from your desk and being away from your work and so boundaries, self compassion, self care. Those are the things.
At a structural level, mental well, being means being in community, having a job that is in a work environment. That's affirming. And that can be hard, and it can be especially hard for people of marginalized identities, and people who are minorities in their companies and studios. And one of the ways to push back against that is to find networks, affinity groups, and organizations that will provide you with community in games, but not in necessarily in your company, because you're going to need that you're going to really need that. Because it can be a very lonely process.
And also recognizing that if you're in a work environment that is super exploitative and super toxic that you need to leave if you can. And finding ways to push back against this. People have done this, tried to improve working conditions collectively. There's the dirty five letter word of union, but those collective actions are one of the ways in which people have tried to create better spaces for themselves. A lot of people have left toxic work environments and gone on and said, I learned a bunch of lessons. I'm going to go create something better on my own. I'm going to create a new studio. I'm going to really think about work. There's a lot of people who do that and they learn a lot of lessons that are, they apply really well in their new work environment. And that's cool and exciting to see. I get really jazzed when I see people being like, you know what, I think I can do this in a more healthy way or in a better way. And I love it.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, there's so many studios that are emerging and X, it's always X, Riot, X, Bungie, X, you know, Call of Duty, but a lot of them are focused around- hey, we're going to do things a little bit differently than we did at this big studio, and here's what we learned from working at a big place, and here's how. We're going to iterate.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah. And it's really cool to see. I have watched this firsthand cause my husband runs a studio that's now part of Netflix, but they've really focused for a long time on sustainability and well-being and good boundaries. So I like to see it.
Lizzie Mintus: In the game's world really.
Eve Crevoshay: Yes. Truly.
Lizzie Mintus: What advice would you give to somebody that wants to be an ally in games and the mental health conversation? You talked about forwarding people to communities. That seems huge.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah. Yeah. So allyship. So don't try to be a savior or a hero-— one because most people don't need that. They need support and affirmation and validation. And two because, if you're going to be the hero and save everybody, you're not going to save yourself. It's not going to be good for you.
You can't fix people, but you can affirm what they're experiencing is valid and real and you can help them navigate how to find the right resources. Especially if you are a person with privilege or power, you can demonstrate that with your attention and your validation that these kinds of things are normal, okay, and not to be shamed. And that's really important, if somebody in my team has a mental health challenge or experience, the first thing that I do is say, what do you need to be okay? And how can I help you? And then I communicate those boundaries and needs to the rest of the team. And that is just me being really clear that this something is needed.
This is a normal thing, just like any other accommodation, like somebody needs to go on maternity leave, or somebody needs FMLA, right? This is a normal thing. We are going to treat it like everything else, and we're gonna get this person what they need. That's really straightforward, nothing to feel weird about. Really remember that mental health is just like physical health. We don't understand it as well, but it is as important and as real and as common as any kind of physical challenges.
Lizzie Mintus: Reminds me I had a candidate a while ago and they shared that they were neurodivergent and needed some special accommodations during their interview and I was so impressed and just shared the feedback that I love to know ahead of time and it's so helpful. Obviously, if you're comfortable sharing, but then it brings everything out in the open and everybody can and will definitely accommodate you, but if they don't know, then...
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, the truth is that most of the time they will accommodate you and that there's a lot of awareness, especially about neurodivergency in games. However, sometimes you won't be accommodated and that is a good sign, especially in a job search process that maybe that's not the place for you.
Lizzie Mintus: Absolutely.
Eve Crevoshay: There are ways to figure this out really initially. But also if you need accommodations or if you are experiencing a challenge, sometimes it can be hard to know what you need. If you're listening to this and you're a manager, a leader, one of the things that you can do is really learn and practice how to facilitate people identifying what they need if they're in crisis or if they're not okay, or if they're experiencing a struggle, is to have a series of conversations or a series of questions that you can ask that help people articulate and play out what is it that they need. What are the struggles they're having and what do those look like? Because we don't always know in the moment exactly what we need.
Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, that's really true. If you are neurodivergent, it might be even more challenging.
Eve Crevoshay: Yeah, and I'm not neurodivergent and I don't always know what I need.
Lizzie Mintus: That's true. You just need to talk it through Yeah. Why? I feel like the supply is for many different.
Eve Crevoshay: It does.
Lizzie Mintus: Thank you. I've learned so much talking to you. I have one last question. And before I ask it, I want to point people to your website at takethis.org. Let's pretend we're at an award ceremony, and I know you've won a few awards lately. So congrats. But you're being awarded for a lifetime achievement for everything you've done up until this. Who do you think-— who are the colleagues, friends, mentors, peers, who have made the biggest impact on your personal or professional career.
Eve Crevoshay: Oh, this is particularly meaningful to me right now. So my team is extraordinary. I encourage you to go to TakeThis.org and look up our team because that crew has taught me so much and is so committed to this work. And to the making sure that we do it in the right way. I learned from them every day. And so Take This has over the last few years worked very closely with Feminist Frequency, which is run by Anita Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency is closing its doors. They've announced recently that they're shutting down. Anita is taking a much needed break from this work and addressing her own burnout. From being the target of harassment and toxicity in games for well over 10 years. So Anita and her colleague Jay at Feminist Frequency have been extraordinary teachers of mine and partners. And so I thank them for the growth that they've given to me and for the opportunity to learn, and try to work in this space in a really authentic and productive way.
And then I would think so many other people who have championed our work in big and small ways across the industry who have taken the risk to invite us into their studios and work with them and to try to learn from us because we change the way things are by doing and we change the way things are by asking the hard questions and taking leaps of faith.
And so everyone who has taken a leap of faith in this work with us is really extraordinary. And then, of course, nonprofits can't do this work without financial support. We've had some really important funders along the way. The most recent and most significant is Riot Games. They've been really important to us to our ability to do this work in the way that we've wanted to. Also gotten important support from Xbox and from Ubisoft. And, those gifts are things that really do move the needle and enable us to affect more change over time. So I'm really grateful to them as well.
And my family. You can't do this kind of work that's passionate, that takes the emotional energy that it does without a supportive partner. So my husband, David. To know that he's got my back in this work and in this industry, because he's also in the industry is really important. So those are the people I would thank.
Lizzie Mintus: I love it. Yeah. We've been talking to Eve Crevochet, who's the executive director of Take This. Eve, where can people go to learn more about you?
Eve Crevoshay: So go to takethis.org. That's the best place. I have absented myself from the site formerly known as Twitter. So I'm mostly on LinkedIn these days.
I'm exploring blue sky, but only with a toe dip. I'm mostly on LinkedIn and you can find us on the website. And on our website, we have a bunch of our old talks and press archived. So that's another good way to hear from me and hear from the rest of the team and their wise voices as well.
Lizzie Mintus: Thank you so much. Thank you. It was a pleasure.
Thanks so much for listening to the show this week. To catch all the latest from His Waldo, you can follow us on LinkedIn. Be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes. We'll see you next time.
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