Our committee of judges — Daglow, Price, Miller, Brenda Romero, David Hoppe, Bill Grosso, and myself — noted that Smedley’s openness and efforts to draw attention to mental health issues is especially important during the time of the coronavirus, when many people are under stress and working in self-isolation.
Inaugural Up and Comer Award: Eve Crevoshay
Crevoshay gets our first-ever Up and Comer Award, which recognizes those who are making an impact early in their careers. The winner is someone we believe has the potential to inspire the rest of the industry with future achievements. Crevoshay has done groundbreaking work in bringing attention to mental health issues among game developers.
She has worked in nonprofits for 15 years, and it was through her husband, David, that she became more aware of the game business.
Hines is the most-senior board member at Take This, said in his presentation, he was proud to present the award.
Russ Pitts, Susan Arendt, and Mark Kline started Take This in 2012 after the suicide of an industry colleague. They started with AFK rooms for the PAX gaming festival. They expanded to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the Game Developers Conference. Over the years, Take This has expanded its mission and is now operating on a budget in the hundreds of thousands per year.
“We really began to change the conversation and removing the stigma around mental health issues inside of our industry,” Hines said. “[Eve] brought something we feel really strongly about at Take This, a belief that mental health issues are important and impact all of us in this industry in some way. You certainly don’t need to look any further with what’s going right now to see evidence of that all around the world right now in quarantine conditions.”
He said it’s important to adjust to this new reality, which can exacerbate where depression and anxiety, and Crevoshay has published a paper on how to manage a team under these conditions and support employees. He said she has spread the message that it is “OK not to be OK, and more importantly, to let people know that they aren’t alone in dealing with these issues.”
Hines said he agreed her work is groundbreaking and that “she deserves to be recognized for her continuous role not just for Take This, or for mental health, and the people in our industry, but for all of those things combined. She has been outstanding, and I can’t wait to see what she new ground she breaks going forward.”
Her background includes education, social services, and the arts, and her passion is the next generation of developers. Crevoshay is a member of the advisory boards for GDC (in the advocacy track) and Chandler’s TIGS.ca. She’s also a certified yoga teacher, avid gardener and cook, and gamer.
Crevoshay thanked everyone for the honor. She grew up as a “child of hippies in Vermont without television or a computer until high school, and so I came to games relatively late in my life through my husband. … It wasn’t a typical path to games, but [it was] a fun one.”
She relishes the challenge of running the nonprofit.
“I take this award as an endorsement of the importance of mental health as an issue,” Crevoshay said. “This really feels to me like an endorsement of the work of Take This and an indication that we are embracing mental health as a topic of relevance, especially now in the pandemic.”
She said mental health has a major impact on our lives, and she said we have never had such an embrace of the idea that video games can promote social good as we have now.
“And this is the opportunity, to provide our community with the support and tools necessary to maintain wellness, develop resiliency, and experience well-being while also serving the larger public with experience that enrich their lives, connect them to each other, and amplify the playfulness and delight of interactive entertainment,” Crevoshay said. “Ultimately, games that are made with humanity showcase the best of ourselves and reward players with rich and varied experiences.
“Take This addresses a range of issues including online toxicity and harassment, mental health literacy, and training for gaming studios, diversity and inclusion initiatives, mental health representation and mental health impact in games, and most importantly the general message that it is OK to not be OK. Mental health challenges are both common and pretty normal. And talking about them helps us all understand we are more alike than different, more connected than separate, and more than concerned about our shared community than not.”
In a 2019 report for Take This, Crevoshay talked about issues such as crunch. It’s related to burnout, and you can identify it by emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and feelings of hopelessness. The average number of employers for game developers in a five-year period is 2.2. Job instability is related to increased stress, work anxiety, and depression.
Take This has said that to reduce burnout in the industry, management should minimize determinants, maximize protective factories, and begin to change industry cultural norms around work environment and work hours.
You’ll see more of what both Smedley and Crevoshay have said on the topic in our panel on “Mental Wellness for Game Professionals” today.
At the close of our ceremony, we switched to an exclusive showing of an excerpt from Insert Coin, a documentary film by Josh Tsui of Ten Point Oh. Tsui talked about the film, which focuses on the history of Midway Games and the making of games such as the original Mortal Kombat. Tsui and Blake Harris spoke today in “Recapturing the History of Games.” We watched the Insert Coin excerpt via Zoom, Hearo.Live, and Oculus Venues.
Please join us in congratulating Smedley, Crevoshay, and Tsui in their achievements.