Playing video games may not be the first thing
that comes to mind when you think about dealing with depression, but perhaps it
should be. By providing an escape, improving your cognition, and allowing you
time to have fun and relax, gaming could be one of the best (and easiest) ways
to manage symptoms of depression on a regular basis.
Depression is the most common mental health
condition in the world. Globally, it affects over 350 million people. There are so many
factors that can contribute to the problem, and it impacts everyone
differently. Some people tend to function better than others, while some can
hardly get out of bed due to the condition.
No one is immune to depression. Something like
a traumatic event or frightening diagnosis can trigger the condition. Some
people are more susceptible to becoming depressed after these problems. For
example, in a study involving women diagnosed with mesothelioma, researchers
revealed that, “Gender also can be a factor in the depression rate after a
diagnosis for mesothelioma. Twenty percent of women in the study said they were
depressed compared to men at 16%.” Despite this, there is no one concrete
factor as to what causes depression, as there are many possibilities and
potential environmental considerations.
While the condition affects everyone
differently, there are many common symptoms that doctors and nurses are taught to recognize in patients:
- Overwhelming sadness
- Loss of interest
There are many treatment options for
depression as well, and people respond differently depending on their needs.
Some people benefit from therapy, while others receive greater help from
support groups. For many, medication is the best way to manage symptoms.
Can video games be added to that list? Can
they really help with depression or other mental health issues? Let’s find out.
Gaming and Mental Health
Nearly 70% of Americans play video games regularly.
Many people play on their smartphones, while others go the more traditional
route and hook up a gaming PC or console. As you might expect, due to the
number of people struggling with depression in the world, there’s likely some
overlap between gamers and people with depression. While some people might
think the two would be linked in a negative way, that’s just not true.
In fact, video games can actually help with mental health problems.
A lot of it has to do with the type of video
game being played and how it affects your brain. Roleplaying games, puzzle
games, and other games that build skills can help with anxiety
and stress, providing you with a welcome distraction and a sort of “escape” for
More recently, video games have given a boost to that idea of distraction and taken it to a level of immersion. Owen Harris, an Irish game developer, released a game in 2014 for the Oculus Rift called Deep. Harris suffers from anxiety and depression, and he developed the game for other people who might be struggling. It guides you through various breathing exercises, encouraging your mind to focus and relax. You don’t need to move, and you don’t need to “win” the game. It’s about centering yourself.
It doesn’t really matter what types of games
you play, though. Instead, find a game you enjoy and focus on actual play.
Video games tend to get a bad reputation because people think they encourage
laziness or a lack of motivation. The reality is, video games offer a way for
you to play. They work in direct contrast to stressors like work,
relationships, financial issues, or whatever might be burdening your life. When
you take the time to play, you’re actually more likely to feel motivated, energized,
and less depressed.
Additional Benefits of Playing
While we’re on the subject surrounding the
stereotypes of video games, let’s cover a few more of the positive effects they
can contribute to. They do more than just help to clear the fog of depression.
Video games can help to improve your hand-eye coordination, relieve
pain, and boost your focus. If you struggle with stress, video games can be
beneficial. Games help to lower stress levels just like they help deal
with depression — they provide an escape. Games that deal with fantasy worlds
are especially effective in lowering stress levels for this reason.
Additionally, recent studies have shown that playing video games may help to “enhance learning.” No, that’s not just something kids want to tell their parents so they can get an extra hour of game time in before bed. A study from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany discovered that gaming can improve cognitive functioning. Gamers in the study were able to retain more knowledge and showed more activity in the hippocampus of the brain, which is responsible for memory. As a result, gaming could be beneficial for a variety of different audiences, including seniors who might struggle with memory loss.
While playing video games isn’t a replacement
for therapy or medication, they can be a way to help with some of the symptoms of
depression. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to give your favorite game a
try to help you deal with this sometimes overwhelming mental health condition
Image Source: Pixabay
Back in 2014, the Gamergate scandal made headlines. At the time, internet trolls launched a series of harassment campaigns targeting females involved in gaming. As stated in an article in Marie Claire, the harassment included “doxxing, hacking, and warnings of death and sexual violence on social media and IRL.”
Instances like these raise a question that remains relevant today: Why is the prospect of women in the gaming industry so controversial? Let’s take a look:
Everyone can bitch all they want about Yennefer’s far more model look and all the race-bending in the new Netflix The Witcher series, but they are all ignoring the real visual problem with the adaptation.
Henry Cavill is too pretty to play Geralt and it’s awful.
Let’s back-trek. By no means am I saying that Geralt of Riviera is an ugly man. Absolutely not. He’s rugged and stoic and a fantasy hero, so obviously he’d charm the pants off of a lot of people. However, no one ever looked at him and thought, “why yes, he looks like he could pass as Prince Charming.”
Image Source: Pixabay
There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding gamers and video game culture. Some of them have some merit, while others are probably a little far fetched. Gamers can be referred to as lazy, “nerdy,” or even obsessed with the video games they play on a regular basis.
But, could video games really contribute to the downfall of a marriage? What is it about seemingly harmless video games that could ruin a relationship? Let’s take a closer look.
Who Is at a Greater Risk for Divorce?
It’s hard to pinpoint why certain groups of people seem to get divorced more than others. One study by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that money often has a lot to do with it. Couples with higher-paying professions tend to stay together. People with lower-paying jobs or those who are unemployed are at a greater risk of splitting up. This is reflective of the toll that financial strain can have on a marriage.
While it’s not necessarily fair to associate gamers with people who don’t have high-paying jobs, a spouse might see someone who plays games all the time as “lazy” or not willing to go out and get a better job, which can boost that risk factor. Gaming can also be an expensive hobby, no matter the gaming system of choice.
Money isn’t the only problem, though. Gamers face a couple more complex issues when it comes to their beloved hobby and their relationships.
Video games often take a lot of time and attention, and video game addiction is one of the most common addictive behaviors. Getting addicted to gaming is easy, and that can cause the person involved to isolate themselves and feel anxious when they’re not playing. For a married gamer who could be spending more time on their spouse or might not be enjoying that quality time as much as they could, that can create a lot of turmoil. A study from Brigham Young University found that most spouses who are married to gamers wish they would put as much effort and energy into their marriages.
Video games can also cause other problems, including physical ailments and conditions. The hobby is often criticized for contributing to the 36% of obese adults in the country. Because video games are especially popular with kids and young adults, they are similarly seen as a contributing factor towards the 12.5 million children considered obese in the U.S. When someone is glued to a screen for hours at a time, especially if they’re addicted, they likely aren’t getting the exercise and physical activity they need. An addiction to video games absolutely puts you at a higher risk of divorce if you’re ignoring your marriage and not taking care of your physical and emotional health the way you should.
Are There Any Positives to Playing Video Games?
There are plenty of “pros” to being a gamer — if you do it the right way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean talking to your friends on Fortnite until two in the morning every night. If you love the world of gaming and don’t want to give it up, find different ways to make it more productive for you and your marriage.
When it comes to “getting physical,” not all video games require sitting on the couch with a bowl of your favorite salty snack. Some games, like Just Dance or Kinect Sports, are designed to get you up and moving while you game. It’s a great way to stay active, especially if you find other physical activities time-consuming and un-motivational. Video games can do more than get your body in shape, too. Educational video games are being used to help students with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. They’re designed to boost critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while helping kids to learn more about how to make decisions. They even help kids learn what it’s like to lose.
Finally, the video game industry is actually doing some good for the world at large. Most recently, a game called “Change: A Homeless Survival Experience” has taken on the popular genre of role-playing games to show what it’s like to be living on the streets. This gives gamers a real window into the harshness of homelessness. Other gaming companies have given back to charities that help the homeless population. The industry itself is so much more than the image of a lazy teenager on his parents’ couch, playing games for hours on end. It’s important to start realizing that, so the stigma many people have about gamers begins to change.
How to Lower Your Risk of Divorce As a Gamer
If you’re an avid gamer, you don’t have to give up your passion to keep your marriage alive. There are a just few things to keep in mind to balance your relationship with your gaming habit. Do you spend more time gaming than you do with your spouse? Does it change the way you actually treat your spouse? If so, it’s time to make a change.
The changes you make don’t have to be extreme or overwhelming. Set a timer for yourself when you start to play, and stop playing when it goes off. Maybe use that extra time afterward to go on a date with your spouse. You can also invite your spouse to play along with you. Even if they’re not a gamer, chances are they’ll appreciate the fact that you want to let them in on that important part of your life.
However, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re living in the real world, and not a virtual one. If you’re not spending as much time and effort on your marriage as you do on your games, you could be putting your relationship at risk.
Writer’s Note: This article got lost in the depths of our draft folder, but we’ve found the piece and are publishing it to give the (albeit late) review Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey deserves.
Let’s start this review with the obvious, already overdone main point: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is not a very good Assassin’s Creed game. Not a bad game, mind you, but a game almost wholly uninterested and unattached the the previous adventures and lore of older Assassin’s Creed stories.
Now, onto the review, shall we?
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is technically the twelfth installment of this sprawling series, releasing on October 5th and quickly becoming a hot topic among gamers. Some are upset about its departure from its roots and its leveling obstacles. Others marvel at its open world experience and RPG adventuring. But, trying to be as objective as possible, what is Odyssey?
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