Why Video Games Help with My Mental Health

I will face my fears.

 

I remember running at super fast speeds along twisty paths, doing loop-de-loops, collecting golden rings and bouncing on enemies setting little animals free from their robotic cages. I am of course talking about Sonic the Hedgehog on the original SEGA MegaDrive. It was my first game I ever played and it holds a special place in my heart. I felt like I had entered a whole new world, one where I could run as fast as possible and jump around intricate levels with ease. I’ll never forget that moment when video games came into my life. I felt happy and free.

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The original Sonic game on the SEGA MegaDrive.

Video games have come a long way since the 1970’s, with technology advancing quickly, gaming has since seen huge leaps in graphical power, enthralling stories, and bringing people together from around the world through the power of the internet. I’ve grown up with video games, they play a huge part in my life and I thoroughly enjoy playing them. They can be incredibly engaging, fun, tense and relaxing for me depending on what I am playing.

Pokemon for example is one of my favourite franchises and always will be, and I find it to be quite relaxing for me. I’ve grown up with Pokemon more than any other game. I remember getting Pokemon Red for my original yellow brick GameBoy when I was just a kid and I couldn’t get enough of it. Jump to today and we have a whole assortment of Pokemon games to play with. I am currently playing through the latest releases on Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Sword. Isabel is playing the opposite to it, Pokemon Shield. Both are fantastic additions to the franchise and we are loving the games so far.

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Aiming to be the best like no-one ever was!

Pokemon, for me is a great way to relieve anxiety and depression. Jumping into a world full of different little (sometimes large) monsters that you can catch, train, battle, play and have curry with is truly unique and satisfying. It can be very heart-warming and just makes you feel at ease as you aim to be the champion of the region and catch em all!

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Winning against the gym leader! Side note, I updated my look to make my character look more like me.

I do hope Pokemon never changes its formula but instead just updates a few things here and there to improve performance but on the whole, Pokemon is awesome! By the way, if you are curious, my favourite Pokemon is Snorlax!

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There are so many Pokemon I really like, but Snorlax and Umbreon will always remain my favourites.

Let me tell you about another favourite game I love to play and have been playing since I was 12 years old.

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Halo 4 is my favourite Halo game to date!

Halo, one of the defining first-person shooters that took the world by storm. I will never forget playing through it with my Dad on the original Xbox back then. We had a blast shooting aliens and discovering the secrets that Halo held. The story is so unique that I find myself going back through the campaign of the games every now and then, noticing something new, even if it is just a bit of new dialogue I missed. I thoroughly enjoy it and can’t get enough of these games. The story however is not what keeps me coming back. While the story is engaging for me, it is the solid multiplayer that keeps me coming back for more. Feeling like an all powerful spartan bred for war, you feel like a true badass fighting against other opponents from around the world, showing your skills with an assortment of weapons and vehicles. I still remember playing Halo 2 with my sisters and friends doing 4 vs 4, boys vs girls, sometimes mixed and playing it all summer long when we were kids. It was truly the best and it was so much fun! I find it to be a great way to relieve my depression as I feel like I am good at something. I have played many multiplayer games but Halo, for me, is my kind of game and it makes me smile knowing I am actually pretty good at it, not great mind you, but good enough to kick some ass!

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Destroying noobs till the day I die!

The Master Chief, the main character of the Halo games is one of my favourite heroes and probably the most iconic for the Xbox franchise. He is a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier who was raised and trained from an early age to be a weapon. You never see his face and never see him without his green spartan armor and helmet which I believe is great as it allows us players to assume his role. He is also a man of few words and lets his weapons do most of the talking. Many of the books talk about his backstory as the games don’t go into great detail about it and they are well worth a read. As I said earlier, playing Halo helps my depression as it makes me feel like a towering behemoth that can take on anything.

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The Master Chief is awesome!

If you aren’t familiar with the video gaming world, there are certain games out there that actually tackle mental health and fear, some of these certain games are held in high regard in the way they show mental health issues and how to deal with them.

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A stunning marvel of a video game about finding your voice.

Gris, is one of those gaming masterpieces that is about living with fear and finding our voice to defeat our fears.

We all have fears, but some fears we don’t realise we have live deep inside of us. These kind of fears can come out of nowhere and can feel like a poison for our minds and body. Anxiety, self-doubt, regret. They can leave us immobile, feeling useless and unwanted in the world. There is this quote I found while searching the web for how to deal with mental health and I believe it to have brought me some comfort. It is a quote from Frank Herbert’s book Dune and it reads:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

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Don’t be afraid to face your fears head on.

Gris is about teaching you about the fears we hold. You play as a woman named Gris who has lost her voice and must overcome fears that take the shape a flock of birds that try to get her. Throughout the game, you are challenged with overcoming obstacles in a stunningly beautiful, water-coloured world by finding your true inner powers. It is a pleasure for your eyes to watch how the game changes with its wonderful art style and platforming. It uses colours as a way of showing emotion and is all hand drawn digitally. This game speaks to me on multiple levels, telling me that I am worth something and that I shouldn’t let my fears take control of me.

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Love yourself, you are worth something.

Even though it is only a couple of hours long, it leaves an impact on you, making you want more of its gorgeous world. I have played through it 3 times now and love it more and more, leaving me emotional and content.

I tend to feel sorry for myself quite often. I don’t feel good enough, I don’t matter, no-one wants me, the list goes on. Anxiety sucks and is really tough to deal with. It can take away your agency. It holds you captive. Anything you want to do, anxiety convinces you that you can’t. I do realise there are better ways of helping and dealing with it, but for me personally, being with my loved ones and playing video games is the best kind of medicine. It has a strong positive effect on me and I just love going to whole other world for a little while until my anxiety wears away. I feel calm when I play them, albeit sometimes I do get a little stressed out when playing harder modes or multiplayer at times, but in the end, I still have fun!

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, still my favourite game to date.

Of course when I do feel like crap, I mostly always find myself coming back to the game of the year for 2017, Breath of the Wild. This game is just something truly special to me. Being in a world where I can go anywhere, climb anything and do what I want is a freeing experience.

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My adventure has only just begun.

It is one of the most gratifying games I have ever played and I cannot wait for the next installment, whenever that will be. It is a great cure for my anxiety, just being able to dive into this beautiful world is really amazing.

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The Master Sword, hidden deep in the forgotten forest.

Video games are great, I don’t plan to stop playing them anytime soon. They bring people together, make lasting memories and can make you feel super. Sure, real life is great too and believe me, I realise video games can’t fix me but it helps me in ways of regaining myself again and actually helps me see that I can face my real life problems head on.

I know I shouldn’t use video games as an escape from my real problems and I try not to, I mean, most of the time I do my best to deal with my problems but when it becomes all so overwhelming, I have to take a break for a bit. For those of you who may be concerned, do not worry, I am seeing a doctor, taking medication and have plans to see a therapist in the near future.

I believe video games to be a great way to help with anxiety and depression, not all games of course, but a good majority of them. To end this blog, I will show you a couple of images from a few more of my favourite games that I have played!

Thanks for reading,

Wild Link.

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