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Gaming and Mental Health

Gaming and Mental Health

COVID is having a huge impact on all our daily lives. Mental Health is at an all-time low at the moment due to the pandemic with people being stuck in their homes for long periods of time. It is important to do things that you love and know will be beneficial to your mental health. Video games can greatly improve people’s mental health and can be a good escape during these hard times. This year has been a massive year for video games due to more and more people turning to games as a source of comfort and entertainment during COVID lockdowns.

An Oxford study has shown us that people who played more video games tended to report greater “wellbeing”. This study is one of the first times researchers have worked with actual gameplay data collected themselves, rather than relying on subjects reporting their own play-times as previous studies have done. These findings are very important due to many reports trying to draw connections between violent behaviour and games, these studies by oxford have been showing the opposite.

There are many reasons as to why playing video games can improve your mental health such as how beneficial it is to your cognitive abilities such as improving dexterity and developing problem-solving skills. These gaming skills can be put to good use in the outside world. Playing video games can require a lot of concentration. This high level of concentration develops your mental agility and problem-solving skills. Video games keep you mentally alert to have fast responses to win the game.

Gaming can also be a social activity when playing with other gamers. Social interaction has been shown to improve self-esteem and emotional contentment. Interacting with other gamers online with who you both share a major interest can be helpful for combating social isolation.

 

In a post by young minds, a young man called Wes shares his story of how gaming has helped his mental health. He tells us how gaming allowed him to do all the things he was told to do to deal with depression and anxiety. Playing these games allowed him to reach out and talk to people in similar situations to him. This allowed him to share his experiences and gave him a place that took his mind off of negative thoughts and emotions. The only thing he had to focus on was winning the game. For Wes and many other people, around the world gaming became his therapy at a point where he needed it most.

Hawken Miller wrote about the stories of different gamers who talk about and how gaming has helped them to cope with their disabilities. Such as Jackson who lost his arms and legs to sepsis and says it was video games that brought him back. “I don’t think about being disabled when I’m in my gaming setup and talking to everyone”. Other people also talk about how gaming allows them to “connect and overcome social anxiety and feelings of depression”. Imagine a world where your disability does not define who you are, where you can be anything you want to be. That is what video games allow for people with disabilities, to be anything, to run, jump, and fly.

Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to escape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. Imagine a time when you felt the most alone. Moving to a new city. Your first days at college. A night in the hospital. That time where you weren’t invited to an event with your friends. Remember the boredom, fear, and loneliness you felt?  Emotionally and mentally, we need human interaction. And if there’s one thing that videogame communities provide, it’s plenty of human interaction. Video games break down the barriers of social isolation by providing level playing fields where anyone can make friends, interact with family, and participate in the infinite space of virtual worlds.

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