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Ad Council's Video Game Partnership with Guild Wars 2 Increases Player Engagement on Mental Health Awareness

Our Seize the Awkward campaign recently launched a partnership with Guild Wars 2 for their Friend/Ships celebration, and we’ve been seeing great engagement from players so far! Guild Wars 2 publisher NCSOFT created a t-shirt that players can have their in-game characters wear, to raise awareness of how friends can help and support one another through hard times. They also produced a moving video in which Guild Wars 2 community members share how their friends have helped them.

Guild Wars 2 | Seize the Awkward | Ad Council

The power of vulnerability, friendship, and gaming communities

It is the most popular outfit in the game right now, and we’re not surprised! The video and the shirt speak to the power of vulnerability and friendship, and that our essential Seize the Awkward message translated well to Guild Wars 2’s community of players.

This positive reception illustrates the passion gaming communities have to make the world a better place – and that’s why we love partnering with game publishers on issues that matter to them and their audiences through our Game for Good initiative. In this case, we know the Guild Wars 2 community is full of supportive and inclusive adults, and we saw a compelling fit between their Friend/Ships celebration and our campaign’s objective to get friends talking to each other about their mental health (both in-game and offline).

Creating an in-game t-shirt has proven to be a great visual catalyst for sparking those discussions – since players love to share screenshots of their characters and guild members wearing the shirt to show their support. Over 400 players have shared stories about a time they’ve helped a friend in need, or how a friend has helped them. Players who do so could also win Guild Wars 2’s Friends Forever in Tyria contest, where the game designers will create a non-player character inspired by the grand prize winner (see official rules for details).

Stallarius (in Lion’s Arch)

Bringing the activation IRL (in real life)

We and our colleagues at Guild Wars 2 felt strongly that our partnership should emphasize the connection between both in-game and IRL (in real life) relationships. In addition to featuring the voices of Guild Wars 2 IRL community members in our video, our Friend/Ships celebration will conclude at the gaming convention PAX East in Boston. The Guild Wars 2 booth will invite attendees to write a shout out to a friend who’s helped them through a tough time in exchange for a unique pin. I’ll also be joining Guild Wars 2 staff and community members Rubi Bayer and Rook (aka birdofchess) and mental health issue experts Dr. Christine Moutier, the Chief Medical Officer from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Dr. B, the Clinical Director from Take This, on a panel we titled “Build Your Guild: Make and Support Friends in Gaming.” Together, we’re looking forward to discussing:

  • The general landscape of mental health, relating to both suicide prevention and the gaming world.
  • Guild Wars 2’s supportive community and ways streamers and game developers can support healthy communities and help players build strong friendships in-game.
  • The importance of both hope and friendship in supporting people with mental illness or who are going through challenging times.

Ultimately, we would like to help players reflect on how their gaming experiences impact their lived experience and encourage them to use their lived experiences to make their gaming experiences better for everyone. For those who are unable to attend the panel, we do plan on sharing a recording after the fact. The Friend/Ships celebration and Seize the Awkward t-shirt item will be available through March 2nd. Share your story on social using #SeizetheAwkward & #GW2FriendShips, claim your t-shirt at the Black Lion Trading Post in Guild Wars 2, and say hello if you’re joining us at PAX East!


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