Wired Production’s Leo Zullo on supporting mental health awareness

Three years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Luca Dalc, the founder of LKA, a small indie developer from Italy. He presented a demo of The Town of Light. It blew me away and ticked so many personal and professional boxes: an Italian developer with a great game – a huge Italian heritage tick – based on a real asylum whose building still exists in Volterra, Tuscany – a huge PR tick – and a game that brings attention to mental health (something I am personally interested in) and highlights the atrocities of past treatments – tick, tick, tick.

Thankfully, Wired had the privilege of publishing it on console recently, and it became the catalyst for starting a year-long campaign to raise awareness of mental health. We decided to give away proceeds from our sales of The Town of Light, and raise money through fundraising activities to support great charities like TakeThis and others in an attempt to ‘make some noise’.

The first promotion starts on Wednesday August 16th for three weeks. 25 per cent of all net receipts from digital sales on all formats will be put into a fund to be distributed to the charities.

So why pipe up now and start this? It’s funny how fate moves, as without publishing The Town of Light and getting really deeply involved in the subject matter, we probably wouldn’t have gone this far.

"Video games are a good medium to reach people suffering."

Leo Zullo, Wired Productions

But once you start delving, you realise this is a big issue. When you look at your own life and circle, you realise the extent of the situation. There have been lots of people around me suffering, usually in silence. Friends have been sectioned, attempted and even committed suicide. I’ve borne witness to people having psychotic episodes, dealing with severe depression and anxiety attacks. This is just my circle, everyday people who are having to deal with mental illness in silence. The biggest personal irony is that, had the Italian Government not closed down Volterra 30 years ago, I would be going there to visit one of its patients today.

Video games are a good medium to reach people suffering. If you really look at the video gaming community, it is filled with troubled kids, not engaging but finding solace and escapism in a game or virtual world. We can try to reach out to them.

I’ve asked this question a lot recently in my personal life. Why are we here on this planet if it isn’t to look after our friends and family and help people around us?”

Let’s all take a moment to look around us and see if there is someone that needs a boost, some help, or even just a chat. Talking does help a large majority of people. It also helps get you the treatment you may require at the right time, before it is too late. Help is out there… You are not alone.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, and the government’s Disabilities Champion for the games sector, has also supported the campaign, saying: The games industry has always been a hugely welcome place that is home to people with all kinds of abilities. One in ten people working in the games sector reportedly experience some kind of mental health issue.

"To see the industry backing a campaign to raise awareness about various forms that this may take is a hugely welcome move. Equally, interactive entertainment and games are a fantastic medium to explore difficult issues. It’s fantastic that Wired Productions is promoting games as a creative vehicle to explore these issues.”

Leo Zullo has been in the video games industry for over 20 years. In 2008, he co-founded Wired Productions and has been independent ever since

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