The Children’s Society Gaming Challenge
Over the past few years sales for games consoles has greatly increased, with some of that growth due to the Covid pandemic. In 2021, the Global “Games Market” had was worth a reported $180BN in revenue, making the industry bigger than Hollywood and the music industry combined! Gaming is now a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds, whether that be playing Candy Crush on a phone, using a PC to have a battle royale on Fortnite, playing a narrative driven single player game like God of War on a PlayStation or putting on a VR headset and playing Beat Saber, the options are varied and for all styles of gaming. However, this massive industry isn’t without a dark side.
Perhaps the most sinister side of gaming relates to the online grooming element. Online grooming is when someone starts a relationship with a (young) person often to abuse them. It can be sexual or can be used to exploit them and forced them into crime, such as distributing drugs. With more young people online, criminals can build trust in virtually environments, similar to how they would in person which can include offering gifts or promises of friendship.
Parents may feel their child is safe playing online, but do they know who their children are playing with? Unmoderated voice and text chat is a large part of gameplay in some games. Platforms such as Xbox and PlayStation have parental controls but if these are not used, children can be at risk. Even if they are in place, experienced groomers will encourage the child they are targeting onto unmoderated and less visible platforms or private chats allowing them to groom and exploit them. The NYSCP website has collected useful links and resources for parents available from:
Games can also be criticised for being too violent or a waste of time, but they can also teach valuable skills such as teamwork and problem-solving or help people know they are not alone. Some games have been designed to raise awareness of issues such as mental health and help people understand these conditions. In 2017, Ninja Theory released Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which was developed with help of neuroscientists, mental health professionals, and other specialists examining issues such as repressed memories and guilt brought about by trauma. Smaller “indie” titles such as Untitled Darkness deals with depression and how it can leave you feeling powerless with no escape, while Fractured Minds examines numerous issues such as isolation, anxiety and paranoia. In fact, Fractured Minds was created by Emily Mitchell who won the BAFTA Young Game Designers Awards for 15-18 in 2017. (Find out more by visiting Fractured Minds – An Interactive Story by Emily Mitchell – YouTube).
To support the positive side of gaming, Haydn Rees Jones, Policy and Development Officer for the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership is undertaking “The Children’s Society’s Gaming Challenge: 24 hours in July” to help raise money for young people at risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect. Money raised will assist the Children’s Society in helping children and young people to gain the confidence they need to move on, the skills to find a job they love, the tools to build friendships and integrate into society, the self-worth to stop self-harming and to start believing in themselves.
To find out about The Children Society Gaming Challenge: 24 hours in July visit:
As part of the challenge Haydn will be streaming gaming on YouTube so people can follow along with the challenge. He is planning to stream a mixture of games to his YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/popculturegamers) including some which address issues of mental health and other issues. To find out more and for announcements of when games will be streamed visit:
You can also follow him on Twitter for updates at: