Seize the Awkward Partners with Award-Winning Guild Wars 2 Game to Start Conversations About Mental Health During Friend/Ships Month
NEW YORK, NY, January 30, 2020 – In honor of Friend/Ships Month (February), the Ad Council’s national Seize the Awkward suicide prevention campaign, in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and The Jed Foundation (JED), is launching an exclusive video game partnership with Guild Wars 2, the widely popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The gaming partnership is the Ad Council’s first-ever integration within a game. During the entirety of February, Guild Wars 2’s 11 million players will receive a free Seize the Awkward t-shirt for their in-game character via the game’s gem store to raise awareness about how friends can help and support one another through hard times. The month-long effort is part of the Ad Council’s ongoing Game for Good initiative, which harnesses the power of leading gaming companies and top gaming influencers to drive awareness and impact on critical social issues.
Developed by ArenaNet and published by NCSOFT in 2012, Guild Wars 2 has a reputation for its inclusive and supportive online community. Each February, the game celebrates its very own Friend/Ships Month in conjunction with International Friendship Month, to recognize the impactful bonds built between players in-game. As part of the annual holidays, this year members of the Guild Wars 2 community are invited to share their personal stories of helping one another via the hashtags #SeizetheAwkward and #GW2Friendships. Players who share their stories using #GW2FriendShips are also eligible to have their own Guild Wars 2 character put into the game as an NPC (non-player character), forever immortalized in Tyria. For more information on this contest, facilitated by Guild Wars 2, please visit the official Guild Wars 2 blog:
NCSOFT has also created a moving video showcasing real stories of Guild Wars 2 players who have met and supported friends with their mental health through the game. The popular live streaming service Twitch will also donate video and banner ad space promoting the partnership in February. To close out the month,representatives from NCSOFT, AFSP, Ad Council, Take This and the wider live streaming community will head to the PAX East gaming conference in Boston, MA to speak on a panel about making and supporting friends via online gaming.
“We couldn’t be more excited to introduce a new audience to Seize the Awkward through a captivating, in-game feature where we believe users will be receptive to our message,” said Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer at the Ad Council. “Whether online or face-to-face, the important thing is to trust your gut and reach out to a friend who might be struggling. This effort will continue to encourage young adults to start these critical and potentially life-saving conversations.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults and for every youth suicide it is estimated that 100-200 others attempt suicide. Young adulthood is a critical time when many people experience mental health issues as well as significant stress from life transitions such as gaining more independence and responsibility when moving from home and beginning college or a career. Furthermore, winter is a season associated with mental health issues like seasonal affective disorder (SAD), making the Seize the Awkward message of checking in with a friend especially timely and relevant in February.
"Guild Wars 2’s players are renowned for their welcoming and supportive attitude and embracing the message of Seize the Awkward is a great opportunity to emphasize how necessary that type of support can be during hard times," said Dr. Songyee Yoon, CEO of NCSOFT West. "Creating a strong community and an inviting place to play is a core pillar to all our games, and we’re very honored to partner with the Ad Council to highlight the way meaningful connections can be made through video games."
Over the course of its seven-year lifetime, Guild Wars 2 has revolutionized the MMORPG genre. Named Time’s 2012 game of the year, it became the fastest-selling MMORPG in 2013 (selling three million copies in nine months) and offers a completely subscription-free business model that bucked the trends of its major competitors. Guild Wars 2 has remained subscription-free since launch, a major tenant in its reputation as an accessible, inclusive community to gamers everywhere.
Since its launch in January 2018, Seize the Awkward has garnered 32.4 million video views and over 695,000 sessions on SeizeTheAwkward.org, where visitors can explore resources and tools to help them start a conversation with a peer around mental health.To learn more about the campaign, visit SeizeTheAwkward.org and @SeizeTheAwkward on Instagram. To get immediate, free support 24/7, call 1-800-273-8255 or text “SEIZE” to 741741.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that's smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Jed Foundation (JED)
JED is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults. We're partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. We're equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We're encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health. Learn more at jedfoundation.org.
The Ad Council
The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation’s most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels. Its innovative social good campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and view the creative on YouTube.
Launched in 2016, the Ad Council’s Game for Good is an ongoing collaboration with leading gaming companies and top gaming influencers. The unprecedented effort harnesses the power of games and the gaming community to drive awareness, engagement and impact on the critical social issues addressed by Ad Council campaigns. Prior activations and partners include Penny Arcade, Twitch, Polaris/Maker Studios, Rooster Teeth, YouTube, 3BLACKDOT, PlayQ, Zynga and Games for Change.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer role-playing game that combines fast-paced combat and large-scale dynamic events, all set within the rich and detailed fantasy world of Tyria. Players are invited to join others from around the globe online in an epic struggle against the magic-devouring Elder Dragons. Rated one of the top MMOs annually by critics, continually recognized for its “art brought to life” approach to game design, and renowned for its strong community, the game continues to evolve with free episodic stories called Living World, which offer new features, explorable areas, and game play activities. The latest chapter in this ongoing story is currently unfolding throughout 2020 in The Icebrood Saga.The Guild Wars franchise will celebrate its 15th year in April and is developed by ArenaNet in Bellevue, WA, and published by NCSOFT. More at guildwars2.com.
The Ad Council
CDC; ACHA NCHA