Centrepoint is taking a step into livestreaming video games as part of a team-up with Life is Strange 2 makers Square Enix to boost awareness of youth homelessness.
Life is Strange 2 is an episodic game that follows the story of Sean and Daniel who are forced to trek across America as homeless fugitives after a tragic incident throws their life upside down. The last of the series’ five episodes is due be released next week on December 3.
Although the video game is set in the USA, Centrepoint’s head of helpline Paul Brocklehurst reckons that the game demonstrates the realities of youth homelessness to a gaming audience who may not regularly be confronted with the issue.
That’s why the publisher of the game, Square Enix, will be promoting Centrepoint’s We Will Be Heard campaign on their Life Is Strange social media channels next month.
Representatives from the charity will also join in a livestream playing through the game, allowing an expert opinion and explanation of the wider themes and context on show.
“When Square Enix approached us, and introduced us to Life is Strange 2, we were incredibly impressed by the game’s portrayal of homelessness among young people,” said Brocklehurst. “Sean and Daniel find themselves made homeless at the beginning of the game. And though throughout the story they find places to stay, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a home. Being homeless means not having a safe place to call home.
“We hope that if you’ve played this game, and been affected by the situations Sean and Daniel find themselves in, you can reach out to us by calling our helpline.
“I believe the game will encourage people to look into how young people are living these scenarios in reality, and that there are things that can be done to support them.”
Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.
Earlier this month, Centrepoint revealed that more than 22,000 young people were at risk of homelessness this Christmas.
Those stats will form the bedrock of their campaigning over the festive season alongside their street art campaign.
The charity have teamed up with four street artists and agency CreativeDrive, to design and paint large pieces of graffiti in six sites across London. Graffiti artists Zabou, Jeba, Tizer and Bullet on a String have each brought their own unique creative styles to the campaign by creating silhouette-centric designs of young people that Centrepoint have helped throughout the year.
“Centrepoint isn’t that well-known still among young people so we really want to drive that awareness,” Brocklehurst told The Big Issue.
— Centrepoint (@centrepointuk) November 23, 2019
“Also it’s about tapping into that real sense of young people feeling like they want to engage with issues and they are feeling more political as we saw with the climate change strikes.
“For me, the real hook about the game, in terms of educating people, is that it not only talk about the physical needs like where to stay and where to get something to eat but also the emotional impact as well. You can see the 16-year-old lead character get very anxious and get frustrated, he doesn’t know who to trust – this is the sort of thing we get from young people calling our service.”
Life is Strange 2’s developers Dontnod have not been shy in tackling social issues in their games. The first Life is Strange tackled abuse, suicide and sexuality before the second game changed tack with different characters to deal with homelessness, immigration and racism. They developers also hit the headlines recently for announcing what will be the first major video game to have a transgender person as a main playable character – Tell Me Why will release next year.
Jon Brooke, co-head of studio at Square Enix External Studios said “We know that Life is Strange fans are passionate about the themes they encounter in the game, and so by partnering with great organisations like Centrepoint, we hope to provide a way for them to get involved with helping share the message that there are places young people can turn in times of hardship.”
Centrepoint can be reached on their helpline at 0808 800 0661 or online via the Centrepoint website