Sunday, 17 February 2013

"Beyond the Final Boss" and Bullying

Schoolkids who are talented at their studies can sometimes find themselves at the receiving end of bullying - and this can have a lastign effect on their lives.

Someone who has decided to do something to reach out to youngsters suffering bullying is Shahid Kamal Ahmad, a London based computer games designer, who has got together with industry colleagues Mike Bithell and Byron Atkinson-Jones to detail examples of people in the computer games industry who have overcome bullying in their school days to find success, friends and a wide social circle in adulthood.

Shahid and friends put the stories on a website called "Beyond the Final Boss". There are some very touching stories on the site, and it no doubt has relevance for many yougsters who are facing bullying.

It would be easy to try and distill some common themes from the accounts of the people who gave their testimony on the site, but that would be to ignore the fact that evertyones experience is different. You really need to read it for yourself..

The site has received coverage elsewhere in gaming circles, most notably Kill Screen , The Penny Arcade Report and (rather awesomely) NBC news.

One aspect of this project that is worth noting is the speed with which the site was put together. As the Penny Arcade Report describes:
"Once Shahid joined the conversation, events didn’t so much snowball as they were fired from a rail gun. “It was very quick, Shahid doesn’t like to wait around,” Atkinson-Jones said. “He, like me, is a grab it and run with it kind of person so in all took less than a couple of hours before it was up on the blog for everybody to read. All it took was a relatively quick email where I poured out the story.”"

But perhaps the last word should go to Sam Hulick, now a widely respected composer in the video game industry, who was bullied as a youngster and comments that:
"In so many cases, the unique qualities that make you a target when you’re young are the very same traits that are appreciated as an adult: thinking differently than others, dancing to the beat of your own drum. Focus on what’s positive. Focus on your hobbies and interests, and think about how great the future will be. You are not worthless, you are not undeserving of respect, and there ARE people out there in the world who will love you and appreciate you. "

Some other resources
BFTF was also touched by this homily from an anti-bullying Facebook page
A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Pass it on or better yet, if you're a parent or a teacher, do it with your child/children.

And Childline also has some relevant resources.

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