A reflection on Mental Health Awareness Month, updates on Yom Kippur plans, and a week-long charity event with Asians Represent and Rivals of Waterdeep.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
I was fifteen the first time I really got into gaming. I signed up for a LARP, a year younger than the age requirement; I faked my age by a year and signed the paperwork anyway. It was the first time I had done anything remotely like roleplay before. I did some theatre stuff in middle school and now high school; I was terrible at sports but I understood there was combat involved and I loved the idea of swinging a sword anyway. I never played D&D or any other tabletop before — I felt intimidated by the math and by people who knew how to play way better than me — but something about slapping on face paint or elf ears and running around what was essentially someone’s backyard in Vermont felt like a great equalizer.
That was fifteen years ago. I was an awkward kid who wasn’t comfortable in their own skin, who questioned their gender, and their sexuality. My mom had just been diagnosed with cancer and I had almost no friends. But gaming empowered me to do something incredible: be someone else and connect with people who, like me, were different and nerdy and wholly themselves. It allowed me to tap into my most powerful tool — my imagination — and let me figure out who I wanted to be as a human being. I learned how to be a leader; I learned how to fail well. I got practice in handling some extremely hard situations. Eventually I was even forced to learn the math that drove me from tabletop games for so long. I still hate math, but I will leap at any chance to roleplay around a table with my friends.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I owe a huge portion of being able to cope with my mental health because of all the tools, experiences, and people who exist within gaming. I — like many people in our community — deal with some mental health issues, ones which I try to talk about often in order to normalize them. I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD. When I started dealing with these things, I never spoke of them and I barely left my house and my group of friends. Gaming gave me an avenue to share space and time with other people as a mutual hobby; it made me more comfortable and honest with myself and introduced me to a whole network of people who have supported me through the hardest parts of my life.
We never know what someone is experiencing when they sit down at a table with us and pick up a game. It’s our chance to give each other the space we need to feel safe, to feel welcomed, and to grow. There are lots of resources for folks who are interested in how board games, RPGs, and LARPs, but often the most powerful gift we can give is simply welcoming someone into our space unconditionally, safely, and letting them find their support.
Have some positive experiences with gaming and mental health you want to share? Tag us on Twitter so we can read about it and share your journey.
Yom Kippur Update
At the request of many of our community members who are interested in attending Gen Con while observing Yom Kippur, we’ve been talking with attendees, local synagogues, and members of the Jewish community who are involved in convention planning in Indianapolis. We wanted to give an update out for those of you who are impacted, but expressed an interest in attending about what our current plans are. These are the following items we are working on based on the feedback and requests that we’ve received from our attendees and local members of the Jewish community:
- A ticketed catered kosher meal event pre- and post-fast close to the convention center (there will be a cost associated).
- Free shuttle service to and from reform synagogue services for Kol Nidrei services on Wednesday and Yom Kippur services on Thursday.
- Participating in reform synagogue services free of charge.
- A prayer/reflection space away from, but nearby, the convention center.
- A teleservice space away from, but nearby, the convention center.
We anticipate any of these activities that move forward will be listed as part of the Gen Con events catalog and you can add them to your list as you would other events. We hope to have all of these options available, but we won’t know for certain or have all the details for several weeks. When we do have those details, we will make them available as soon as we’re able.
Asians Represent x Rivals of Waterdeep Charity Event
Next week, starting with the Brothers Murph on Monday, May 24, Gen Con is hosting a week-long charity event. The climax of our fundraising will be with a crossover event by Asians Represent and Rivals of Waterdeep where Daniel Kwan will be GMing a kung-fu adventure from The Book of Inner Alchemy featured in Wizards of the Coast’s latest release Candlekeep Mysteries.
In addition to Daniel, the game’s cast includes Tanya DePass, Steven Hunyh, Agatha Chang, and Shareef Jackson. You can donate all week during any of Gen Con TV’s show —The Brothers Murph at 6 pm PT/ 9 pm ET, This Game Gets Dicey at 11 am PT / 1 pm ET, and TableTakes at 2 pm PT / 5 pm ET. After TableTakes at 4:30 pm PT / 7:30 pm ET, Daniel will be guiding his players in the search for the missing pages of a mysterious book that puts them head-on against the Monks of the Immortal Lotus.
All proceeds from the week-long event will be split between two charities: the Chicago Bail Project, which supports individuals in Cook County Illinois in affording bail costs, and Welcome to Chinatown, a grassroots organization that helps support and amplify the voices of Chinatown businesses in New York City.
Stay tuned to our social media to learn more about these charities, about the games our hosts are playing, and watch the Asians Represent x Rivals of Waterdeep event on Friday, May 24! If you can’t participate and you still want to donate, you can do so here.
*icon credit: @omoulo