Helping Get Through COVID and Mental Health Struggles One Geek at A Time
Lehigh Valley, PA: When Kat Mahoney, Owner & Visionary Director of TheGeekGrid Studios formed the company, her goal was to bring awareness to Gamification, the art of learning through play. As a mom of three, two of which are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, and a Computer Science Video Game Major, Mrs. Mahoney was no stranger to how games could enhance learning in a way that standardized education could not touch.
“When my kids watched me beta test games and market games to the community, they held more interest in learning than any other form. For my own kids, reading books and sitting there listening to lectures were not the best way of learning and their engagement was sparce.” Mahoney said. “Coordination and critical thinking became heightened when they could learn through play and they began asking questions related to the subjects. They became engaged, motivated, and inspired through play, and that is the start of what every educator wants to see.”
Mrs. Mahoney used gamification to help her kids thrive through the educational system both academically and emotionally. “Social phobia, anxiety, depression, and lack of communication were all emotional struggles my kids, as well as myself, had to cope with. We learned through professional counseling and trial and error, what worked and what didn’t.” Mahoney said. “But since being in this industry of geek entertainment, I was able to capture the positive effects on a more personal level. This allowed me to bring lessons and emotional recovery to the community when needed most, especially during COVID when people were alone, depressed, anxious, and watched streams and played video games more.” Mrs. Mahoney was able to connect to the communities online through streaming, video games, cosplay, and live interactive workshops while building on education and mental health.
“Most people who are already in the cosplay, video games, fantasy, and anime community, are there because they struggle with some sort of emotional, social, or academic turmoil.” Mahoney expressed. “Now enhance that threefold during COVID, and you have one hell of a problem, but when done right, the community really does bring a sense of comradery to the surface. For instance, Cosplay, which is a greater form of costuming or even theatrical acting, allows those who have social phobias to come out of their shells. To express themselves and communicate in ways that they could not before. They become happy with who they are. I find that geekiness and let people be happy.”
Mrs. Mahoney’s gamification experience and methods of outreach have gained the trust and recognition as an Advisor on the Google Health & Technology Board, Arkansas Governor’s Mental Health Conference, National Military Spouse of the Year, and now she will be a Speaker at the Mental Health America Conference in Washington DC June 12th, 2021.
Mrs. Mahoney also uses these methods to build awareness at her STEAM & Video Game Festival to be held August 21st & 22nd at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. You can register for tickets and find out more information from www.pasteamfest.com or visit www.thegeekgrid.com for more of Mahoney’s events and workshops. To register for the MHA Conference, visit https://www.mhanational.org/
Information provided to TVL by:
Founder of the PA STEAM & Video Game Festival