Press Start: for positive social gaming

Article image - Press Start: for positive social gaming Press Start participants balance their virtual and real world lives.

Glen Eira City Council’s Press Start program is a first-of-its-kind, innovative youth gaming program developed by the Victorian Council in partnership with local young gamers.

The program takes a new harm minimisation approach to tackling unhealthy gaming behaviours and aims to empower young people to take control of their gaming and reconnect with their community.

Council Youth Worker, Jason Rodwell, says Press Start allows young people to transform video gaming from a negative and draining part of their lives, into a fun and empowering way to build back their self-confidence and reconnect with their community.

“It was formed as a result of an abundance of referrals from families seeking support for their adolescents whose gaming habits interfered and impaired the daily functioning of tasks and responsibilities such as eating, sleeping and attending school.”

To explore possible solutions, Glen Eira’s Youth Services created a working group of local young gamers to identify unhealthy gaming habits and develop a program that would refocus participants on some of the positive aspects of video gaming while providing them with an opportunity to reconnect and form new social networks.

As a result Press Start program was designed to change the participant’s mindset from a ‘need to play’ and ‘desire to win’ attitude to a sense of achievement through team work, supporting others and playing for fun.

The program incorporates healthy gaming habits such as time management, accountability and behavioural guidelines with multiplayer games that promote co-operative game-play and social bonding experiences.

“Over the last two years Press Start has had a broad range of 52 participants who have varied from very low to extremely high levels of addictive gaming behaviour.

“Many of these participants have been able to integrate these healthy gaming habits and Press Start philosophies and reported significant reductions in addictive behaviours such as loss of sleep, school refusal, family conflict and social isolation,” Mr Rodwell said.