Nerd Culture

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

Image Source: Pexels

Less than 20 years ago, the term “nerd” was typically used in a derogatory manner, conjuring images of loners with acne playing on computers in their parents’ basements. But as nerd culture has entered the mainstream, the definition of “nerd” and “geek” have evolved dramatically. Both can now refer to someone who is passionate about technology or particular subcultures, from Star Wars to anime, gaming, LARPing, and beyond.

With the rise of nerd culture comes an opportunity for proud geeks to make a difference in the world. Nerd culture is, by definition, accepting of the individual, without prejudices that are based on race, class, sexual orientation, or other demographics. Anyone can be a hardcore fan or self-identify as a nerd or geek.

In fact, nerds may just be the original social justice warriors, fighting the status quo by fostering a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. Nerd culture may also have a positive impact on the environment, and the “cosplay is not consent” campaign has brought widespread attention to the topic of sexual harassment. Let’s take a look at various social issues that are being addressed thanks to nerd culture.

Recycling, Waste, and the Environment

Many celebrities use their status and wealth to promote social issues, from human trafficking to conserving the environment. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Degeneres are especially giving when it comes to environmental issues. The former even founded the eponymous Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which supports various environmental causes, including wildlife conservation.

If celebrities can use their fame to help address and curb environmental issues, why can’t nerds? In fact, nerd culture has already made an impact on waste reduction. Film and TV production is a wasteful industry with a large carbon footprint. According to Columbia University, a movie with a budget of $50 million produces about 4,000 metric tons of CO2. Further, many props, costumes, and sets are diverted to landfills once production wraps. 

That’s where nerds come in. At various conventions, including San Diego Comic Con, movie props and costumes have become a cottage industry, with nerdy fans willing to pay top dollar for authentic items from their favorite fandoms. These coveted items, therefore, are kept out of landfills and may help bring light to the issue of waste reduction. 

Conventions themselves have also become a hotbed of environmental awareness, especially in San Diego. The city’s annual convention is the largest in America, taking place at the San Diego Convention Center. The venue is a pillar of sustainability, using 100% LED lights for energy efficiency. During the 2018 event, the venue recycled 50 tons of cardboard and supported fair trade practices among its food and souvenir offerings. Fair trade business principles promote economic stability, human rights, and the independence of disadvantaged producers. 

Inclusivity

Along with environmental issues, nerd culture is also a champion of inclusivity, but we still have a long way to go. For example, mainstream superhero movies are now a cornerstone of nerd culture, but the majority of the films in the immensely popular modern Marvel Cinematic Universe feature primarily white cis males. And that’s problematic, especially considering the diversity of comic book superheroes. 

When the X-Men were first introduced, their various mutations and the community they found in each other helped bring hope to the oppressed and those who didn’t fit into mainstream culture. Yet that message of acceptance has not been fully realized in mainstream society. It seems that every time someone who does not fit the white, cis, straight paradigm is cast in a superhero film, there’s immediate backlash. 

Misogyny and Sexual Harassment

Nerd culture takes the issue of inclusivity a step further by promoting equality and fighting against sexual harassment and sexism. That’s not to say that these issues don’t exist within nerd culture: In fact, Claire Del Sorbo of Fordham University declared in 2016 that “nerd culture absolutely does have a problem with sexism.” Del Sorbo used the death threats sent to gamers Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, and Brianna Wu by male gamers in 2014 as a glaring example of sexism within gaming culture. 

Sexism can also be seen at conventions and similar gatherings, but the “cosplay is not consent” movement is working to help end the problem. First introduced at New York Comic Con in 2014, the campaign erected signs that reminded attendees that touching or taking pictures of cosplayers without their consent would not be tolerated. 

The concept of consent itself is of paramount importance within nerd culture and society in general. With STD rates on the rise in the U.S., nerd culture must be willing to help foster a culture of safe and consensual sex, with honest communication and education as a priority. The fact is that hookups and consensual sex are a big part of nerd culture, especially at cons. Thus, promoting awareness of safe sex and the need for periodic STD screenings within the nerd culture is of paramount importance.

Nerds Can Change the World

By continuously addressing social issues like waste reduction, sexism, and consent, nerd culture can make a real difference. It’s time for nerds to merge their interests and passions with activism and awareness to help make the world a better place.

Ask any 30-something what the best part of growing up was, and you will probably be regaled with stories of waking up on Saturday mornings, going to the kitchen and making a big bowl of cereal, grabbing your blanket and plopping yourself down in front of the TV to catch the latest offering of He-Man or Transformers. If you stick around long enough you may hear tales of a delicious green Orange-Tangerine flavored nectar, a drink whispered of in legend and now long forgotten to time. I speak of course of the amazing Ecto Cooler. But now, that legend is back…well sorta.

This famous drink is now in alcoholic form at The Quarters Bar Yes, the childhood staple has now been boozed up. Yes, please!  (more…)

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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The 2019 Popcorn Frights Film Festival hits Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on August 8th-16th and writer and director Brian Rosenthal will be in attendance! You might recognize Rosenthal from films such as Marvel Zombies vs. Army of DarknessAsh vs. Lobo and the DC Deadand the concept trailer for his sure-to-be cult classic, The Last Blockbuster.  Join Rosenthal and others on Saturday the 10th as they show off their hard work! With more than a week of incredible horror movies there’s sure to be something for every kind of horror fan!

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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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Steve Ekstrom is a writer, editor, letterer, and Indie comic producer. He has successfully Kickstarted projects, worked as a journalist for nerdy news outlets, and started his own indie comics studio, Imminent Press.

NerdBastards.com had a chance to talk with Steve about his career in comics, his love for writing, and his experiences in the indie comic scene, and it is fair to say that we learned a lot. Please enjoy this next installment in our ongoing series of interviews with indie comic creators. (more…)

Are Gamers at a Higher Risk of Divorce?

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.

 

Rick Stafford is a cosplayer with a wide range of charters that he brings to life, but he is most known for his many variations of DC Comics’ heroic defender of the deep, Aquaman. Rick dons the green & gold to attend cons and volunteers to visit sick children in hospitals. He has attended numerous charity events, and conventions to inspire the hero in all of us.

Like any true hero, Rick has had to overcome some extremely difficult obstacles in his life. Some of these obstacles would have broken weaker men, yet Rick continues to preserver, moving forward with the strength and endurance of the indomitable characters he brings to life through his cosplays.

We at NerdBastards had a chance to talk with this real life hero and learn what motivates him to cosplay and volunteer so much of his time to others.
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Mad Cave Studios is an indie comic book company on the rise. With titles like Honor & Curse, Midnight Task Force, Knights of the Golden Sun, Show’s End, and their flagship title Battlecats, Mad Cave is making a name for itself and taking its place as a respectable indie brand in the comic community. The company repeatedly creates new and diverse titles to captivate its’ readers. No two titles in the Mad Cave line-up are the same, making their books more accessible to a wider audience.

The MADMAN behind this ambitious indie company and the writer for the majority of its titles is Mark London. His MAD dreams and visions have shaped Mad Cave Studios into a forward-thinking company that prides itself on quality storytelling and beautifully expressive art. We had a chance to talk with Mark about Mad Cave Studios, writing comics, the indie scene, and the future for himself, and his company. (more…)