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       A Toast to Totem's success!    Awarded CTBA2016 Creative Communications & Digital Business of the Year  Topping off a really great year for Totem in which we demonstrated significant business growth and worked on delivering some amazing custom and off-the-shelf products, we were delighted to win at the Coventry Telegraph Business Awards 2016.        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         If there were unofficial awards on the night for loudest and most enthusiastic cheers when their name was announced, then it would have been Team Totem.  As Mark (our Lead Artist) pointed out on the night, the competition within the category was stiff so to come out on top feels like an even greater achievement.         

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


        The victorious Team Totem with their award      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     Unfortunately, the rest of the team wasn't able to celebrate with us but the award is definitely deserved by everyone in Team Totem. They've given so much to the company - especially during the last few months when we've been especially busy in meeting some challenging deadlines on a couple of groundbreaking projects.  So here's to Team Totem!     Of course we instagrammed the food!  We are the digital business of the year, after all.          

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     
   
     “ While Totem Learning is a global supplier of innovative online training solutions, it is very nice to be recognised with this prestigious local award and truly deserved by the dedicated and skillful team based in Coventry.    We look forward to further sustained growth and to raising the profile of our favourite city worldwide.  ” 
   
   — Richard Smith, CEO  
 
     Congratulations to all the other finalists and winners!     Watching the showcase videos, it's clear that we're only one of the companies doing great things across Coventry & Warwickshire: it's great to be part of such a thriving business community.   Here's to seeing you again in 2017!      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


          Want to talk to us about creating your own award-winning game or elearning?  Get in touch today !          


   
    
       
        
           
             
               
             
           
        
         
          
              Totem Learning Ltd  
          
           RT @ michelledh : So ... who..... btw  its not a tv realty show this is real 
@ Jeremy_hunt  or @ BorisJohnson  

 #ToryLeadershipContest …  https://t.co/p52ijsTvZo  
            Jun 26, 2019, 9:34 PM  
         
       
    
       
        
           
             
               
             
           
        
         
          
              Totem Learning Ltd  
          
           RT @ helenroutledge : It’s been an absolute joy and a pleasure to work on this game with such amazing partners! 

Well done to all involv…  https://t.co/S2ngRZjCla  
            May 25, 2019, 9:04 PM  
         
       
    
       
        
           
             
               
             
           
        
         
          
              Totem Learning Ltd  
          
           We love the impact our VR delivers!  https://t.co/HtsppBM4Fm  
            May 7, 2019, 8:28 PM  
         
       
    
       
        
           
             
               
             
           
        
         
          
              Totem Learning Ltd  
          
           RT @ helenroutledge : I’m loving all the stories from Shecan365!

It was a privilege to be able to tell my story as part of this great ca…  https://t.co/ZwzgGsN6fP  
            Apr 28, 2019, 8:58 PM  
         
       
    
   



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A TOAST TO TOTEM'S SUCCESS!

Exciting times for TeamTotem this week - we're officially the Creative Communications & Digital Business of the Year!

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       Mind games: Totem's top 10 serious games for mental health and well-being    In  2000 , the Mental Health Foundation started ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.  The first issue focused on was ‘Stigma’. Since then there’s been Exercise, Sleep, Anxiety and many more. This year the focus is on  Mindfulness ; a mind – body approach to wellbeing.  Did you know one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness every year, yet despite its prevalence in society there's still a stigma attached to it. The games featured aim to help understand mental illness better. There are also games featured for individual wellbeing and how to look after it.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Depression Quest     This isn't a representation of all people who suffer from depression. Devised to grow awareness of depression and empathy for sufferers.  Depression Quest  has a received a mixed reception. The game is played as a story; the player reads text then chooses a given action. Future choices become blocked off depending on previous choices made.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Photographs feature at the top of the text. As the depression worsens static creeps into the photos. This grabbed my attention. A recent study observed that sufferers from depression experience  fuzzy thinking . The static seems to reflect that. I’ve heard there are four endings, I'm confident I can predict at least one of them. One play through proved emotionally taxing enough for me though.  Worth noting: there’s a warning to those who suffer from depression or anxiety NOT to play the game. Serious stuff!       Elude    Similar in focus to ‘Depression Quest’ with gameplay closer to Doodle Jump.  Elude  aims to show users the highs and lows a sufferer of depression experiences. The protagonist is a teenage/young adult male, statistically the highest risk demographics for suicide. The goal is to climb the trees and soar into the sky. Falling can result in a hole too big to climb out of. A simple metaphor for a complicated illness.  There is a summary of your journey that's a befitting addition to the game. How many times did you experience ‘happiness’?     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Nevermind    Incorporating new technology  Nevermind  is the first on the list to use biofeedback. The gameplay reacts to the player's stress levels. In a stressful situation players must calm their emotions to continue moving forward. Like all great Serious Games, the lesson learned can applied to real life scenarios, resulting in reduced stress and promoting emotional wellbeing.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       This adventure horror isn't for the faint hearted. A captivating gameplay mixing harsh realities and magical fairytales. Anyone who enjoyed Alice Madness Returns is sure to appreciate the graphics and story of Nevermind!        Super Be     TTER    This is a social online game. It's designed to build up core strengths – mental, physical, emotional and social wellbeing.  Players set their ‘Epic Win’, their ultimate goal which becomes the focus. Smaller activities are also set and once completed equate to ‘power ups’ to use against ‘bad guys’ – emotional stressing events. It’s an interesting game proven to boost a player’s wellbeing and personal growth. I’m a new user to  Super Better  but so far I have found it encouraging and engaging.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Lumosity    Developed by neuroscientists, a huge team is involved in monitoring the effectiveness of  Lumosity . The aim is to “improve core brain abilities—and empower users to live better, brighter lives”.  The mini-games are fun and challenging. I’m playing on a limited access version but I’ve already increased my attention levels. This can be played online or on your phone.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Lumosity, Fish Game  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


         MindLight    This immersive game uses therapeutic techniques to teach children to manage their emotions. The goal is to turn on all the lights in the mansion, overcoming fears and saving Granny. The player wears a neurofeedback device which monitors specific brain waves - relaxation and focused attention. Nominated on  Games For Change  for the Most Significant Impact award this is one to watch. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this game.   Mindlight 's graphics are gorgeously cute too!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Skip a Beat     Using your iPhone or iPod touch, this game monitors and incorporates your heart rate. There are four modes to choose from - Zen, Balance, Spicy and Master! The goal is to teach how coffee, a stressful day at work, even posture effects heart rate. This gives the player an insight into their own mind, body and general wellbeing.  This  is an upcoming area in the games industry, expect to see a lot more health games and apps like this soon!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Happify       Not a game in itself but there are minigames!  Happify  trains your brain to be healthier. Depending on personality and goals the route differs. Players can focus on all different kinds of tasks. Small positives or re-connecting with an old friend, the aim is to grow self-esteem and wellbeing. There is a Beta App or you can ‘play’ online, the choice is yours.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Flowy     This game is specifically for people with anxiety but I think anyone can benefit from playing it if they are stressed and need to relax. Tailored to the players own breathing patterns, the player must concentrate their breathing into regular smaller breaths while collecting items to complete levels.  Flowy  is still in the experimental stages but the developers have done their research. This game is going to help a lot of people!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Mindsnacks    A language learning game! Learning a second language has been proven to increase brain size. The benefits of a second language are plentiful! Obviously there is the added bonus of not ordering a lemon when you actually meant a Citroen at the car hire in a Paris airport. But learning a second language has shown to increase memory abilities, cognitive skills and individuals are generally better mentally flexible.  Mindsnacks  are a great way to start learning a second language. Whatever language you choose there are minigames which teach you vocabulary in an exciting and competitive way – challenging your brain and keeping it active!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Now is the perfect time to start learning that second language. Next week's blog will be focused on the best games out there for learning a new language, all in time for your holidays!  There are a couple of games that are worth mentioning but didn’t make the list due to either not being released yet or no longer playable.       Guided Meditation VR    Not so much a game, but it uses gaming technology and deserves a mention. This is a virtual reality application which is due for launch alongside the consumer Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It enables the user to be transported to a beautiful relaxing environment. Because the virtual reality headset has 360 degree visuals it is completely immersive – the user can escape to meditate in their chosen environment, even in their lunch break at work! At the moment voting is open so you can vote on locations, meditation options and more, or make suggestions of your own.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Soar – currently in development by  E-Learning Studio  s , the player is a bird in a world of grey. The object is to bring back colour to the world. The game will work with a heart monitoring device and aims to relieve stress through immersive escapism and breathing exercises.  Neuroracer – I just stumbled onto this game. It’s basically a driving game where the player has to mulit-task, working on the players cognitive, memory and multi-tasking skills. Research was undertaken with a group of individuals of all ages and there were some really positive results. The full study can be read on  Gazzaley .  I have trawled the site for recent news but short of a rumour on a mobile version being released, I haven’t been able to find anything.  Mental Illness is a real issue. A bit cliché, but if you don’t have your health, what have you got? These games deal with a variety of areas of mental health. Whether it's for creating awareness and empathy for sufferers or stimulating the brain, helping work towards a better, happier version of yourself. Appreciate life and be Mindful!  Don't forget to let us know your thoughts using the #TL10 on twitter. 

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MIND GAMES: TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

In 2000, the Mental Health Foundation started ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.  The first issue focused on was ‘Stigma’. Since then there’s been Exercise, Sleep, Anxiety and many more. This year the focus is on Mindfulness; a mind – body approach to wellbeing.

Did you know one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness every year.

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       Girl Power!    International Women’s Day is here again! What a great opportunity to write a post and allow the members of the team to contribute and share their stories!  According to the IWD website  ‘International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.    Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. So make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make every day International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.’   Each story below has been written by one of our team members. They represent our experiences and stories from the industry we are so passionate about. We hope you enjoy reading them.     Raising expectations and smashing the glass ceiling!     Helen Routledge: Lead Instructional Designer and Head of Production   I couldn't agree more with this sentiment. I am and always have been an advocate for women in games and the sciences and I hope that the more we let young girls now about the options that are available for them to more progress we will see.  My personal passion to help others really started to grow when I was in my early 20s’ I was out working with a school in Dundee to design some mini games for an educational product. I was testing a game that encouraged the students to reflect on their life goals and I was working that day with a group of 4, 15 year old girls. The game asked them to think about their ideal job/goal in life. The girls discussed this in great excitement but when it came to telling me what they wanted to do, their answers absolutely astounded me. There were two career choices open to them 1) Prostitution or 2) Single Mother. Now I thought these girls were joking when I first heard this, but the more I listened the more serious I realised they were being. The girl who wanted to be a single mother had actually worked out a balance sheet for the number of kids she thought she needed to support the life style she wanted. Now regardless of how fanciful that might be, she had actually thought in detail about it and performed some serious plans.  I really should point out that at the time Dundee was the Single Mother capital of Europe and it was a serious cultural problem for the city. That may have changed now, but at the time, many students I worked with were from 4th generation unemployed or single parent families who knew how to exploit the system. This isn't a blog about benefits at all, that’s not the focus. The issue is these 15 year olds; despite having all the skills to work out a balance sheet didn't see any future for themselves after school.  I found this profoundly sad and started to wonder why and how this could happen?     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
                    
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Growing up I was surrounded by strong female role models! My mother for one, who told me I can be anything I want to me, I just need to work hard and apply myself. Wonder Women, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Zena Warrior Princess, even The Spice Girls, the list can go on and on. I did start to examine the female role models available at the time in the media and I didn't come up with very much. It seemed we had lost our strong females in the public eye.  So from that day on I decided to help as many young women as I can move beyond their often limited view of their potential and open their eyes to the possibilities that are out there.  I started an initiative where we took a group of 4 young girls from a local school on work experience every year and I mentored them to design a game. One group showed so much potential they were invited to present at the Women in Games Conference! Each girl left that week feeling better about themselves, more empowered and positive about their future career options than they did when they started.  Initiatives like this are desperately needed to give young girls the confidence that they can achieve anything they set out to achieve. For me, it's all about passion, knowing you can achieve more.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Many years on from that day in that Dundee High School I still marvel at how few women there are at the industry conferences I attend. I'm pretty sick of turning up and not seeing a single woman on the bill, or being the only women speaker myself. Personally I'm incredibly motivated to push myself as hard as I can and achieve as much as I can. I never think about the glass ceiling. To me it doesn't exist, I will just continue to prove my worth through my work and fight against anyone who tries to put me down.  However I know the road isn't a short one and I experience personal challenges such being asked to use my girlyness to help with client chemistry, or being patted on the head, patronised and talked over. But these are the challenges we need to overcome and through my work I know I can change this and I'm determined to continue encouraging more women into games!    Girl Power in a male dominated industry     Anna Bailey: Instructional Designer   Last week myself and 2 colleagues attended the latest games lab event in Birmingham. It was a great evening where we met lots of new and interesting people. After the event we were outside awaiting the arrival of the taxi when one of my colleagues mentioned just how few women there were at the event, I commented back that I just didn't notice any more. That got me to thinking, what does that say about me and the industry that I am in?  From the beginning of my venture into the games industry, as a female, I have always been a minority. On my games design course I was 1 of only 4 girls on a course made up of 60 people. When working as an intern in a small company I was the only woman in the company, whenever I have attended any events such as Eurogamer and Gamescom it has been full of guys. If I’m honest I don’t think I notice as much anymore as it doesn't bother me being in a room full of guys, I feel like it’s  a room full of people and I don’t find it even a bit intimidating. But should I just take this as the norm and the  industry standard or should we be doing something about it?  I decided to put a call out on twitter, to gauge people’s opinions and feelings on women in the games industry, I wanted to start a discussion. I got some interesting points, which started some interesting discussion on the subject. The first point was the need for more females in the industry, do we actually need more women or it is just fine the way it is?      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        To me this discussion raised a valid point, should the industry directly reflect the audience, in some cases does this depend on the type of game you are developing. Another point which I think is very true, is it that there still seems to be a huge misconception that it’s the majority males that play games when in fact it’s pretty much 50/50 now. I think its good to point out that men also face similar problems in other industries such as primary school teaching and psychology.  Another point that I wanted to try and tackle is the idea of setting targets to increase the number of women in the games industry.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     I think that these are valid points, I for one, would not like to be employed soley because I am a woman. But another point is that  studies  have shown that people employ people who are like them. So do we need to step in to break this cycle allowoing people to consider other, female candidates.  The final point someone made is that although women are misrepresented in games, so are males as pointed out here.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There seems to be a complete distortion of how both sexes are portrayed in the majority of games. From the big hulking guys in Gears of war to the ridiculously clad Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V. This ultimately comes down to feeling well represented, if this was a minority of the characters in games then I think it would be less of an issue. But as it is the majority of games that have these unrealistic characters I feel as though this has to change.  I have to say that even just taking a brief look into this subject that I have already gained so much information and fresh insight. I personally feel that games are progressing forward and I hope to see lots of women being made aware that production of video games is a great career with so much to offer and for them to know that it is as open to them as any other industry out there.    Don’t let other people put you down or belittle you   I haven’t been the industry that long and I have already been subject to some sexism. One of the ones that really stick in my mind was an occasion when we were having drinks with some people off my game design course. I had recently returned to university after studying for 2 years and completing a year in the games industry. We were having drink when one of the guys asked me across the table if I actually liked games. I was completely taken back by the comment, he then went onto say that I ‘didn't look like the typical person’ who would play games or be on the course. My immediate reaction was to exclaim that of course I play games! I then didn't really say much more on the subject due to my astonishment at the comment. Looking back now I wish I had called him out in front of everyone or at least tried to  question his thinking. I think part of my point is, don’t let anyone put you down or make you think that you are any less worthy. To me it doesn't matter if you've played all the games under the sun or just a few select games, what matter is that you have an opinion.    It’s important to stay true to what you believe in   One important point to remember is to stay true to what you believe in. Keep your passion and use that to drive you forward. It’s also important to be uncompromising in what you believe in, if you feel as though something you are doing is compromising your values, then speak up. If you are unhappy with how you are being treated, then say something. Don’t deviate due to money or being pushed down a certain path else you will soon find that you will lose your passion or become unhappy in your job.   It’s important to have a female role-model   For me it’s been a huge help to have positive role models in my life. I have always had strong female people to look up to. In my personal life I have always looked up to my Mum who is a single mum and is the most amazing person. Growing up I always had positive female role models within the media in the age of girl power. I also watched a lot of Buffy the Vampire slayer and just loved that Buffy was stylish, clever and funny. I am really fortunate now that I even have a role model within my work place. Our own Helen Routledge has taught me a fair bit about how to handle yourself in the world of work and has given me quite a bit to think about after some of our little chats. In quite a few ways she is pretty inspiring to me. The point is here, that it doesn't matter who your role model is just pick one and strive to be as clever, confident or knowledgeable as they are.     The benefits of a balanced work place and an interesting experiment in Second Life      Richard Smith: Managing Director    I've always believed in creating an equal work place and believe equality produces a better culture and ultimately better products for our clients. If you doubt this check out our Sci-fi themed “diversity and equality” project.  60% of the team at Totem are women; this hasn't happened as part of a plan to surround myself with female employees rather it’s happened as a result of hiring the best people for the job. The team dynamics work really well and we have some very interesting discussions in the office with all the different perspectives the team members bring.  Obviously as a man I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in the real world but through the development of virtual worlds this has changed! So, and those of you who know me know I like to try things out, I decided to set up an account and enter Second Life as a female character to see what would happen. So I set up a female name and a female avatar and away I went. It was quite an eye opening experience, one that was very different to the experience with my male avatar. I found other people would approach me more easily and start chatting, which was nice, but also I was chatted up almost immediately and most worryingly I was patronised quite a bit.  What was interesting is that I am still me, the same person, I didn't alter my behaviour or personality yet everyone in the Second Life reacted differently to me.    International women’s day and equal opportunities for gamers!     Nicky Rhodes: 3D Graphics Artist and all round good egg    I would like to introduce you to my view on playing games and the lack of decent main female  characters. Things have been changing in this industry for a while and for the better, just take a look at Tomb raider Reboot but for me who has finished Tomb raider a while ago now I want something new to play.   However I have asked myself what other game characters do I enjoy playing?  I like characters that are a bit quirky but also kick ass I like playing Ratchet and Clank, Alice in wonderland,  I like playing dirt and driving games but I presume the character you drive is male by how the rest of the characters interact with you.  I really would like to be a female character driving a Monster truck and there are so many potential games out there for both women and men if they were given the option to select a character. It’s not hard to change the voice, the mesh and the texture of the character.  As a games artist I would love to create a female kick ass character like Tank girl, I would love a tank girl game all gritty and 90’s Punk.  Like Rockstar and GTA, braking boundaries for men and being able to be allowed to do what the hell they want, be it Shooting people or yoga.   I would love to work on a game with a strong female character and for it to be multi-player to enable women to let their hair down and socialise on-line like guys do, because yes your right women like to do that too and to be able to go mental and I think Tank girl would be a good way to start.  At the end of the day aren't games meant to be a form of escape from reality and a useful form of learning things about yourself and other things?   International Equals day   The thing that annoys me about international woman’s day is the title; this in its self is segregation.  Generally speaking when men see the word international women’s day they visualise a WI meeting and that women are fighting for our rights again and why this article should concern them as it's a woman thing.  We are past the woman’s power to vote stage and have been for a long while.  Every so often its good to glimpse back into the past and see how mature things have got or getting.  I would prefer to call it international 'equals day’; this would suggest this article is aimed for anyone to read.   “No matter what anyone thinks or tells you, if you want to do a job then just do it. I work in a company that is mainly made up of men but have been welcomed and am not treated differently. If you are good at what you do it shouldn't matter who you are.”  Keziah Bailey, Lead digital Artist Double Negative.

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GIRL POWER!

International Women’s Day is here again! What a great opportunity to write a post and allow the members of the team to contribute and share their stories!

According to the IWD website ‘International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. So make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make every day International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.’

Each story below has been written by one of our team members. They represent our experiences and stories from the industry we are so passionate about. We hope you enjoy reading them. 

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