Stephanie Marceau

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Can Video Games Help With Depression?

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
  • Hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • 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 a while.

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 Video Games

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

The new Mulan trailer has dropped and I, for one, am hype. A culturally adept film with an all Asian cast about a Chinese badass warrior woman? Sign me the heck up.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. 

In the comments of the new trailer, on YouTube and Facebook, most people voiced lukewarm feelings or outright distaste for the film’s changes. After all, unlike most of the Disney remakes, the movie plans to change quite a bit. Mulan will be more culturally accurate, will not be a musical, and will not have the talking animal characters it once had. People seem to be really up in arms about no “Girl Worth Fighting For” or Mushu. 

Recently, there has also been a big internet hullabaloo about Disney executives picking a black actor to play Ariel. There is a fair amount of speculation if a lot of that uproar was manufactured for free press. Either way, there is a big controversy around the upcoming The Little Mermaid film now instead of excited buzz. 

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We already know people enjoyed Stranger Things’ new season, nothing new there. Netflix‘s collection of writers, actors, set design, seriously everyone involved put their best foot forward and made for an entertaining new chapter to the story of Hawkins, Indiana. Some people are probably getting to the point that they hope this story turns into the Neverending kind. 

However, the efficacy Stranger Things has achieved in making well-rounded, interesting characters could be part of its own undoing. 

Almost all characters featured in their past three seasons have grown into complex, interesting personalities. However, series can’t always showcase all of its characters. Having such a large cast can cause a lot of trouble and distract from the story. 

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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.” 

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Life as an Anime Millennial: The Glory of Aggretsuko

While commentary sites tend to lean towards the informative or negative, let’s take a moment today to just revel in something super awesome. 

Let’s talk about Aggretsuko

Aggretsuko is a Netflix show about a cute, reliable red panda who vents her rage by singing death metal karaoke. In a world of anthropomorphic animals working desk jobs, the show walks to the beat of its own drum. As does its main character, Retsuko, even though she hides it under sweetness and compliance. 

With 15 minute episodes, the Japanese original series is short, to the point, yet oh so effective. And, somehow, depicts one of the realest expressions of being a twenty something, despite being a bizarre animation about office animals. 

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OPINION: The Real Problem With Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

Black Mirror has always been a series that pushed the envelope, with some great episodes, some perplexing episodes, and the rare few that fall flat. Fans have been enamored with the show, especially since it was picked up by Netflix and has only asked wilder questions and explored even more shocking scenarios. 

While every season has its low points, Black Mirror dropped the ball in its short, three episode season, but not because of quality. Overall, the season was great. Well, 2/3 of the season. The season failed by having its final episode feel utterly pedestrian compared to the other two. “Striking Vipers” explored complex, vague, and undefined sexuality. “Smithereens” juxtaposed the grandness and tragedy of technology with the horrors of grief.

And then there’s “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”. Compared to its predecessors, it’s a bizarre and uninspired tale that could be found in a lower grade YA novel. Considering YA novels can be damn good sometimes, it’s really a shame. The science behind it doesn’t really make sense, and the characters and story are not strong enough to cover that up.

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Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Premiere Review

Gilead’s a cesspool of discomfort that only gets worse, isn’t it?

This last weekend, The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 premiered on Hulu. Instead of gracing fans with just a single episode, though, Hulu gave fans three. Thank you, Hulu gods, for such a gift. Since they premiere Handmaid’s Tale weekly, it’s nice to be able to binge ourselves a little to get back into the show before wait each week to continue the journey. 

As the NerdBastards resident Handmaid’s Tale reviewer, I thought it might be good for me to cover such a momentous debut.

And boy, did the show really go for it.

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Despite early complaints about She-Ra’s design not being sexy enough, Netflix’s She-Ra and The Princesses of Power series has made a huge splash. Fans have fallen in love with the inclusive, diverse, and beautiful show. With the strong and powerful Adora, bold but insecure Glimmer, and the overexcited, intelligent Bow, the main cast drives each episode with gusto. Even if the intro theme song sometimes gives a harsh reminder that the show’s made for kids, people of all ages can enjoy and appreciate it. 

However, what’s gotten the biggest buzz about She-Ra is its open and casual acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and relationships. Bow has two fathers. Two different allies are in a serious relationship (Netossa and Spinerella). Adora and Catra have romantic undertones so heavy that they could drown an entire city.

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Black Mirror’s “Striking Vipers” was amazing. Well, except for the fact that the episode didn’t have the balls to go all the way exploring these two men’s sexuality and relationship in favor of a more heterosexual viewpoint.

It gave fans all the subtext, all the LGBTQ+ specific leanings and even community jokes. But it refused to try to truly dissect and figure out the relationship between these men.

Let’s talk.

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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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