Three years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Luca Dalcò, 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 started 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.
Although issues concerning mental health are beginning to be talked about more openly, the job of raising public awareness is far from complete. Our aim over the next year is to bring much needed funding to partners such as TakeThis, as well as other charities operating at local, national and international levels. The gaming community is such a caring collective, and we welcome its assistance in helping us bring these much needed support services to those that need it most
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.
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About The Town of Light
The game, based on extensive research and inspired by real facts, is a first-person psychological story driven adventure game set in the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum. Based in Tuscany, Italy, the asylum was shut down in the late 1970's by a law from the Italian government which instructed all asylums to close completely and give back patients their civil rights.