Video Games and Mental Health

Time for the third entry for the Mental Health project with Crimson. I know the last one was a bit of a downer but I didn’t want to sugar coat the subject. I promise this a lot more positive.

As the title implies I adore video games. I will admit that I might be ever so slightly obsessed, just a smidge. The thing is a fair amount of my family including my mum claim that they promote violence and blame them for some of my issues such as my lack of sleep.

First off, no they don’t. Just putting that out there, they don’t. When I was younger I was very aggressive and got into fights a lot. Here is the funny part, when I started playing games that had a lot of violence, I started to get less violent myself. I would contain my rage and unleash it on NPCs when I got home. I stopped getting into fights after that as now I had a much better outlet for my aggression.

Secondly, they actually help me a lot. Not so much with the sleep as unless I have nothing to do the following day I don’t tend to play late into the evening. Normally I’m up because of college like I said in my previous post.

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As I have said before, and sorry to those of you who read my content as you must be getting fed up of me constantly reminding you but I am Autistic. I am also a very anxious person who stresses out and panics easily. I also suffer from what I dub Empty days.

These Empty days occur fairly often recently. On these days I don’t feel anything as it’s like I’m only a hollow husk. That no matter what I do, little seems to snap me out of this hex and it normally lasts all day. I’m completely numb and dissociated. It’s like a mild version of depersonalization.

There is one thing that helps break me out of that state, it doesn’t work all the time but it does more often than not. Playing a game.

Honestly, I am not sure why but I have an idea or two. I think it’s because in games you by design are an active agent and have to get involved with the story or plot. You are forced to take part and I think that connection is what helps.

On top of that, games provide a distraction from my negative thoughts and feelings. Allowing me to escape into another world for a few hours to get away from the issues haunting me in the real world.

For example, a really bad day at work and want to vent out my aggression? I play a Yakuza game, at the moment Yakuza Zero. Stressed out and want to relax? My Time At Portia. Feeling lonely? Time to play a game with a community aspect like Final Fantasy XIV which I tend to play with either my best friend or the group she formed full of friendly and helpful players.

Sometimes I like playing challenging games when I am stressed to get my brain focused on the challenge at hand and pushes the issue that is causing me to stress out to the backburner for a bit. My go-to for this tends to be puzzle games like Professor Layton or Phenoix Wright or difficult games (at least to me) like Dead Cells.

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Even playing a sandbox game in which I just wander around and stumble into adventures like Skyrim is great for helping me relax. In fact, I’m listening to a Skyrim Music & Ambience video as I’m writing this. It helps me focus and stay calm.

Side note, I keep getting recommendations for Stardew Valley as people find that game helps them relax but it doesn’t really work for me. Maybe I’m playing it wrong? I’m more of an Animal Crossing gal myself.

The problem is that now that I am currently in crunch time at college I don’t have a lot of free time so I can’t play as much as I would like. However, I only have a few weeks left to go. I can and will do my best!

While this post is about my personal experience, I do know and use a great resource for Mental Health that provides Mental Health resources for gamers and the gaming community. It’s called CheckPoint and can be found online and they even have videos on Steam.

I highly recommend you check out them out and will leave you with a breathing exercise they made which I use myself.

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6 thoughts on “Video Games and Mental Health

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  1. Reblogged this on Read at Night and commented:
    Another great post by Megan and one that I super enjoyed reading (OK, I enjoyed the others too but she mentions Skyrim so this gets automatic Awesome points)!!

    Video games and really anything that looks or sounds violent tend to have a bad rep with the general public, but Megan shows us that they can actually be therapeutic. I wholly agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. oh hey, i didn’t know it showed the comment i reblogged your post with xD

    also, i love playing elder scroll games!! i don’t have a lot of time for it now but yes, i used to play that game for DAYS. i agree with you on the aggression part. i was never a violent person at school (the opposite really) but i’ve always had a temper at home. i got into video games in high school bc my bf at the time liked them (i also played a bit before this but this is when i really started playing) and there was something relaxing about playing. i also noticed i wasn’t as prickly as usual once i started playing

    man, now i have the urge to go play a game LOL (but no, gotta catch up on stuff before i go play)

    great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you liked it! Skyrim is one of my favourite games, I even have a bunch of the Skyrim Candles. They smell amazing.

      I can’t wait for Elder Scrolls 6! I just hope they don’t pull another Fallout:76 on us again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i didn’t know they had candles :000 and i just heard about that from my brother, i’ve been out of the gaming loop. and fallout is one i need to try out 😀 it’s been in my library for a while, i just haven’t gotten around to it O(-(

        Liked by 1 person

  3. People who don’t play games don’t have a clue. They assume that seeing all that violence will inure you to it and maybe you’ll get bored with it and want to upscale to real violence. Then they point at a few monsters who played video games and then went out to shoot up schools as evidence. This is very lazy thinking and if I were a teacher I’d flunk them in Critical Thinking class as well as Psych or Soc. classes they were taking.

    This is usually followed by some sort of demand for censorship. Of course, it ignores the tens of millions of video game players who play regularly and don’t go shoot up a school or rush to commit grand theft auto.

    The FBI crime stats report shows violent crime is at a historic low and a big drop started in the 90s. This is incompatible with the notion that video games drive violent crime. If you look at school shootings, for example, you see they are episodic. Someone shoots up a school, there is huge publicity, much more than in say 1970. For various political reasons, the focus is shifted away from simply reviling the shooter to making then a martyr for a cause. Then it becomes fashionable among a certain group. There are a host of copycats and then it dies out.

    We could try focusing on why this person ran amok, as opposed to the millions who didn’t. I don’t think there is much political capital to be made so it won’t happen. (Amok origin – from Malay amok ‘rushing in a frenzy’. Early use was as a noun denoting a Malay in a homicidal frenzy. The modern equivalent is “going postal”.)

    Now it is possible that some people could use a game as a virtual substitute for mass murder – but that’s a GOOD thing. Better to blow away your imagined enemies in a game of Fortnight or abuse women in a game of GTA than to do it for real. Only someone who is a genuine psychopath or sociopath doesn’t differentiate between an image on a monitor and a living breathing human being. You aren’t going to fix them by neutering video games.

    What I’d like to see investigated is whether the “pressure release valve” is at work here. It is fairly well established that porn serves as a substitute for sexual behavior and that the ease of access to sexually explicit material on the internet is a factor in reduced teen sexual activity in recent years. I suspect that it is at work in violence as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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