eLearning Studios

Neil Allcroft, senior tax manager at HB&O, with Nitin Thakrar, managing director at eLearning Studios.

Tech to help tackle anxiety and stress

Coventry-based eLearning Studios has launched a new virtual reality game aimed at helping people tackle anxiety and stress.

eLearning Studios, based on Far Gosford Street, has created a game called Soar: Tree Of Life that aims to improve people’s focus, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Within the game, smartphone and tablet users play the role of a bird that is aiming to restore colour to seven forgotten islands by travelling from tree to tree.

The game is currently available to play on iOS, Android and Apple TV devices, with the virtual reality version set to launch by August.

Since launching in mid-June, the game has attracted four-star ratings for its ‘relaxing music’ and ‘stunning graphics’.

The game was created by eLearning Studios in partnership with Channel 4’s All 4 Games over a two-year period, and also used the expertise of Coventry University stress management experts Dr Gail Steptoe-Warren and Nigel Wilson.

Coventry and Leamington-based accountants and financial advisers Harrison Beale & Owen (HB&O) assisted with the project by submitting successful claims for Video Games Tax Relief providing payable tax credits in excess of £60,000.

Nitin Thakrar, managing director at eLearning Studios, said: “This game is ideal for the non-traditional gamer who is in need of some quick relaxation after a hard day at work – unlike most games, there’s no points or competition.

“This is a game that is driven by scientific research. During the game build, we worked with occupational therapists and psychologists from Coventry University to understand how and why people get stressed and how people can relax.

“They looked at three key areas – stress management, cognition and mindfulness – all of which the game helps with.

“The main reason people get stressed is because they’ve got too much on their plate – and this game encourages people to false-consciously take one thing at a time by travelling from tree to tree.

“The game is still in its early stages of development but so far we’ve had some fantastic reviews of the game, particularly around how relaxed people feel – and eventually I’d love us to pass the one million download mark.

“The build of the game has been a long and complex one, and without HB&O making us aware of the tax relief we wouldn’t have been able to have completed the project to the high standards that we have done.”

Occupational psychologist Dr Steptoe-Warren added: “The game has an almost immediate relaxing effect. It improves focus and reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure and heart rate naturally and even works as a sleep aid for people affected with Insomnia.”

Neil Allcroft, senior tax manager at HB&O, has assisted eLearning Studios with the Video Games Tax Relief claim and is hoping it will inspire other businesses to access similar help in their field.

He said: “Nitin’s business is flying at the moment and has proved that, given the correct advice, it is possible for small to medium sized businesses to access finance and available tax credits that can help them stand out in a crowded market.

“Video Games Tax Relief is one of seven creative industry tax reliefs that are available to any company that is directly involved in the production and development of certain films, childrens television programmes, animations, video games, orchestral concerts and theatrical productions.

“In addition to the video games tax relief we have also assisted Nitin in successfully claiming research and development tax credits. Contrary to popular belief, research and development tax credits are available for any business that seeks to achieve an advance in any field of science or technology. This also encompasses seeking an appreciable improvement in any product or process. 

“We have assisted many companies from a diverse range of industries in gaining access to these valuable reliefs and again would urge any company who are engaged in any form of engineering, design, development, IT innovation to contact us to explore if they can gain access to these tax credits.”

The West Midlands has a rich gaming heritage and eLearning Studios is yet another success story to add to the list. Around 130 of the UK’s best games businesses are based in the region - notably in and around Leamington Spa - creating, highly skilled, productive jobs and opportunities throughout the region.

The games industry in the West Midlands generated an estimated £224m in GVA in 2015 – of which £188m was from the ‘core’ of 50 firms clustered around Leamington, Southam and Warwick.