“Gaming for Prevention” smashes stigmas

A student wears beer googles, last Tuesday at "Gaming for Prevention." The goggle simulate drunkeness

The Tech Counseling Center partnered with the TTU Smash Bros. Club and eSports Club for an alcohol awareness and suicide prevention event.

The Gaming for Prevention event highlighted combating stigma surrounding mental illness, information on substance abuse and gaming setups to promote a growing community of gamers on campus. The counseling center and eSports Club gave away prizes in separate raffles while members of the Smash Bros. Club held a Smash 4 tournament.

Prizes given out by the counseling center included VR-viewers and pop-sockets for smartphones. The eSports Club raffled away prizes provided by Tespa and Uconnect—esports network organizations.

“The purpose is to give information and support for different disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse in a friendly, fun environment where they don’t feel discouraged for talking about it,” Travis Dixon, president of the Smash Bros. Club, said. “The counseling center wanted to find another way to connect to the students and bring light to these issues.”

Dixon said the counseling center reached out to the Smash Bros. Club last semester to begin planning the event. He reached out to Regan Givens, president of the TTU eSports Club earlier this month to get them involved.

“Video games are definitely a way to help people with mental illness deal with their illness. I’ve always believed that gaming can help—it’s an escape,” Givens said.

Others involved with Gaming for Prevention had similar thoughts.

“You need an outlet—games just have a way of just bringing people together,” Ling-ling Phongsa, graduate assistant for the counseling center, said. “I’ve been around games since I was a child. I knew my Pokémon types before my ABCs.”

“It’s been my experience that gaming can be a positive activity for stress reduction. It helps bring connections for students and the gaming community is a supporting network,” Dr. Christina Mick, counseling center assistant director, said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, Dr. Mick said.

In addition to suicide prevention, the counseling center set up information for collegiate alcohol awareness week, including a tri-fold poster board detailing alcohol consumption amounts and activities involving beer goggles such as picking up knocked-over plastic bowling pins and driving an RC car.

“(We’re) trying to show the campus community that there are activities that can be done on and off campus that are drug and alcohol free,” Dr. Mick said.

Gamestop provided some Wii U setups for the Smash 4 tournament and gave away merchandise.

“Whenever someone reaches out, we’re usually more than happy to send some stuff and out and people,” Chris Denmark, a Gamestop employee, said.