How games can be for good.

Since the PlayStation 2 there has been a lot of negative press about how video games rot the mind of teenagers and leads them to commit crimes similar to the ones they commit in the video games that they play. An example of this is the high profile Manhunt case back in 2004. However, video games aren’t always a bad influence like the press have stated.

For about six years now I’ve suffered with anxiety which then brought on depression. In my secondary school days from Year 9 to early Year 11 I used to wake up every morning and be sick before I left for school. Then for the majority of the day I would suffer with tingling in the majority of my body, feeling constantly sick, bad stomach pains and so on. The anxiety gradually got worse and worse. Although I stopped being sick, when I started college my anxiety’s intensity increased. This brought on more intense anxiety/panic attacks and made me not want to go outside. Two years later and I’ve finished college and started working. I’ve also been taking Citalopram which is an anti-depressant (all of the other pills they prescribed me didn’t work) for six months which is making things more bearable. I still suffer from anxiety/panic attacks and constant feeling of sickness, tingling and other symptoms but there is something that has helped me throughout my years of suffering with this ‘mental disorder’. Gaming.

When I used to come home from secondary school I used to feel very down and worthless. At first I used to just lie in bed, feeling sorry for myself but then I received an Xbox 360 (sorry!) as a Christmas present from my mother and that changed things for me. I’ve always loved video games ever since I can remember but the only console I had was a PS2 at the time. All of my friends had an Xbox so one Christmas my mother surprised me with an Xbox 360 and a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. So every night I used to sit up, playing COD with my friends until my eyes were about to pop out and it took my mind off of everything. The sickness, the embarrassment, the depression. It was all gone! I then began buying more and more games and whenever I felt crappy or anxious, I would sit down and play games and it worked! Games such as Skyrim made me feel like I was in a whole different world where all of my troubles were irrelevant.

In mid-October my girlfriend bought me an early Christmas present, the PlayStation Vita. This was a game changer for me. The Vita enabled me to sit up in bed before I went to sleep and play an hour or so of a game. This allowed me to forget about all my troubles, whether they being work related, family related and so on. Vita games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation and LittleBigPlanet: PSVita set my mind in a completely different world. Whereas games such as Smart As, Treasures of Montezuma Blitz, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Sunflowers and Rayman Origins worked as a quick fix or just a fun game which would lighten up my mood.

There has been studies of video games having positive effects on gamers. Such as;

  • Memory (Smart As…)
  • Teamwork (Dungeon Hunter: Alliance)
  • Problem solving (Uncharted: Golden Abyss)
  • Mapping (Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified)
  • Pattern recognition (Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward)
  • Perseverance (Rayman Origins)

The Vita is now a huge part of my life. No, I’m not addicted to video games and I do go out and play in my band, go shopping with my girlfriend and spend time with my family. But if I have an evening to myself, I turn on my Vita, message some friends from the PS Vita Forums, and play a game or two.

Video games can be addictive and yes, they may rarely create unfortunate circumstances such as the saddening Manhunt case. However, they can create a positive effect on people, such as myself.

 

Which leads to my question for the readers; Do you use video games as a ‘medicine’ for your problems?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!

Sources:

Image from: http://lifehacker.com/5881205/in-defense-of-video-games-more-than-just-an-entertaining-time-sink

 

  • Will, thank you for this very open and honest piece. It goes to show the positive effect that gaming in general can have and it means a lot to me that you wanted to share this here with us.

    Like I mentioned to you before, I was diagnosed with depression when I was 18 and prescribed Prozac for it, which I never took and I suppose I learned to deal with it. If I were totally honest, I probably do have some form of depressive mentality, all of my family do suffer with it.

    Games are my distraction from reality and something I enjoy doing and cannot see myself not playing them.

  • I just play games for fun. I do not game as much as I want to, in particular because I am very much affected by time-related stress, and playing games instead of doing the work I need to do only makes that worse. Luckily, I do not have major problems, but gaming has made my life more fun and that is very important for me.

  • teras

    I like videogames because they take me away from reality. I enter fantasy worlds and sort of “live” hundreds of virtual lives and identities. Just like a good movie, only better with the added interaction and the feeling that you actually shape the events (although you don’t).

    That’s not to say that one should give up on reality of course. Balance is the key to everything.

    Virtual worlds are very powerful these days. That’s why there are so many gamers and that’s also why the videogame industry is so huge. Back in the old days most of us were kind of ashamed to admit that we played and enjoyed videogames because it was considered childish and anti-productive. A waste of time. But look at things now.

    Videogames just like any good hobby entertain us. And it’s very good entertainment.

    • Willgasmic

      It’s crazy to think that the video game industry is now bigger than the music industry! In my opinion it’s the best form of entertainment. And I am a huge music fan!

    • ico

      @ teras and what good value entertainment it is! With the exception of some questionable titles which may not offer a full value for money proposition (cod vita I’m looking in your general direction) you’re getting 20 hours plus top drawer entertainment for the price of a couple of trips to the cinema or half a night down the pub.

  • ico

    Good article and great to see examples of video gaming in such a positive light. Guessing the likes of Alan Titchmarsh and the Daily Mail wouldn’t give a hoot about this as it goes against all their predetermined (mostly)baseless negative bias against gamers and gaming in general.

    While I don’t use gaming as a ‘medicine’ it does provide a good degree of entertainment though less so now I have a family as I have less free time available. Another good point about the vita? Wifey can watch telly and I can game curled up on the settee next to her at the same time so she can enjoy tv tat (in my opinion) like Peter Andre’s life story and I can get my fix of high brow, soul enhancing stuff like gravity rush and mgs. Vita, veni, vidi, vici!