For many streamers, authenticity is not just a preference; It is a must. Many viewers want influencers with whom they can relate on a personal level. This connection can mean the difference between a single view and a dedicated channel subscription. While you can forge a link between a transmitter and its audience, however, that balance can also tilt in the other direction, opening both sides to a dangerously intimate relationship that charges a price.
That's where Take This wants to enter. The name of the nonprofit organization is a nod to an iconic phrase from The Legend of Zelda, and was founded in 2013 to educate members of the gaming industry and their community about best practices in mental health. Now, he will address the personalities of Twitch and YouTube with his new "ambassadors" program. The program, which will be launched in time for PAX West later this summer, aims to teach influential people the best way to help viewers who may have problems with their own mental health. (Take This co-founder Russ Pitts was previously employed on the site of The Verge Polygon).
"We're not turning streamers into therapists or anything," says executive director Kate Edwards. It is an important distinction for anyone who can see these influencers act as a mental health professional. "We are trying to train them so they know how to handle the issue."
By directly contacting the streamers, explains Edwards, Take This seeks to train these influential personalities "in a more formal way". The program will offer ambassadors a rubric created by a clinical psychologist with guidelines on how to talk with viewers about the subject. The objective, in essence, is to teach the ambassadors how to talk about the subject in an appropriate way, without provoking people or leading them to self-diagnoses. "I suppose you could say it like that, it's just helping to guide how you talk about [mental health] and [with] what level of delicacy," she says.
"We really only talk about [mental health] if a famous celebrity commits suicide."
A 20-year veteran of the games, Edwards previously served as executive director of the International Game Developers Association. Regarding the issue of awareness, cites a study conducted in 2016 by the IGDA, in which developers were asked to self-report whether or not they treated mental health problems on a regular basis; 10 percent of respondents said they did.
But unlike physical ailments, says Edwards, mental health hardly receives the same level of sympathy or attention. "If you entered your job on Monday with a broken leg … everyone cheats on you:" Oh, what happened? Are you okay? Can I bring you something? ", She says. "But if you go to work and say:" I'm depressed and I do not feel like working today, "people do not know what to say, they're like," Oh, well, maybe if you work hard, you will forget about that & # 39; " Conversations about mental health, he says, tend to go up and down with trending topics. "We're really just talking about [mental health] if a famous celebrity commits suicide or something like that, it's all that churn, and then [the conversation] goes away."
The Take This Ambassador program will not only focus on audiences that want to talk about mental health; It will also invest in the welfare of the cables themselves. Many of the streamers they spoke with want to get critical comments about their work, says Edwards, but part of that means ingesting abusive comments along with useful notes. "Going through the comments is like walking through a minefield," she says. "If you are constantly assaulted online, and you start obsessing with that kind of comment, or if you do not have a good way to cope, then you are at risk of losing your empathy … You become stoic because you have to be … like a mechanism of survival ".
The path of online influencer to stardom remains a largely unexplored territory, but as with any growing industry, education and guidelines will be essential as space becomes more professional and solidified. Edwards points out that professions related to live work, such as radio or news, are possible avenues of reference. "Virtually everyone that is [an influencer] is a pioneer to some degree," says Edwards. "Certainly, some have been doing it for a couple of years more than others, but it's such a new form of expression."