Mental Health & Gaming

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Prey
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Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Prey » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:10 pm

So then chaps. I'd like to take the floor if I may and discuss the possible link between mental health and gaming as a hobby and if you personally think it either helps or actually worsens any current mental health issues something some of us here including myself are all too familiar with. We all know that distraction can be a huge help when it comes to living in this thing we call our minds day in and day out but at what point might gaming in particular go from being simply a distraction to being something that is actually dominating our very lives or on the other more positive hand how can it actually benefit us in the long run and if so how do you think it has helped you deal with not just any mental health worries you openly wish to disclose but also who you are today and your life in general?

During one of my own recent hospital appointments I was asked to name one singular aspect of my life that I could tell someone I didn't know about who I am today in a single word and without even having to think on it I instantly replied - Gamer. We then delved into the many social aspects of gaming, so called gaming addiction and much more about just how much gaming and our interest in it helps define who we are to others we both know or have only just met. The impact if any it has on those around us and if indeed I would ever walk away from it, from being that who I have been predominantly as a known and avid gamer for practically most of my life.

I for one know that my daily routine of sitting down and entering my own chosen world of escapism for the few hours I still actively play games (perhaps half what I used to) helps me with my own constantly roller coasting mental health issues. Although I do not game or even buy games like I used to I know deep down it is still something I love in its purest form outside of the industry greed and smoke screening and that with my son being an even more avid gamer than I now am has given us a solid comparative base interest that we actively discuss every single day of the week in one form or another. I watch him play his games and he watches me play mine and often we sit with two chairs together and take turns playing rounds in multiplayer matches and it is genuinely a positive bond we will no doubt always share. In that sense it is very much a positive thing. In the sense that I'm very often upstairs and my wife is sat alone downstairs however, not so much but I do always come off and make time to watch tv with her at some point in the evenings especially since we started watching Netflix series' together. As long as I get my one or two hours or sometimes more in I'm good and she has time to enjoy her soaps. I should add that upon receiving my new monitor yesterday I did spend a good 4-5 hours last night gaming as I hated playing on the crappy tv I was using previous so it could well help with my recent disinterest in playing quite considerably as it's like seeing my games with a fresh pair of eyes and they look lovely.

Having something in your life you feel so very passionate about is essential that we all know but sometimes in rare cases our passions can lead over to obsessions and that's when we need to sit and rethink just what life is all really about. Gaming has sculpted much of who I am and if not for gaming I never would have even met any of you guys, imagine that. Apologies if this is all a tad thrown together, just one of those spur of the moment thoughts I had I thought I would explore.

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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Wrathbone » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:11 pm

Gaming is absolutely something which aids my mental health. It's not simply escapism for me - it's having a fun and relatively simple task which occupies my attention without dominating it, which is a very useful tool in battling anxiety. Watching TV doesn't usually have the same benefits because it allows my mind to wander enough for the anxiety to do it's thing, whereas gaming requires the right amount of attention. It doesn't work for all games, which is one of the many reasons I generally avoid multiplayer games or games which need an extreme level of concentration. RPGs and strategy games are my defaults.

The thing is, it's not like I choose to play games because they're good for my mental health - I play games because I like playing games, and have done all my life. But I wonder what state I'd be in if I didn't have a similar activity to quieten my mind for a bit.

As for whether games have any negative impact on me... I honestly don't believe they do. I don't feel any addiction to games; in fact I rarely play for more than a couple of hours at a time before I feel the urge to do something else. So yeah, games are good!


EDIT - Some more random thoughts occur. I have a friend who, if I tell him I'm going through a bad anxiety phase and need some time to regroup myself, will suggest that we go walk up a mountain or something at the weekend as a remedy so that I'm not cooped up by myself at home playing games. No matter how many times I try and explain, he doesn't seem to get that the solitude and the games ARE the remedy, and being outdoors with other people will have the opposite effect. Incidentally, this friend is not much of a gamer. I think 'the public', to use the most generic term I can, and specifically non-gamers, struggle to see this positive side of gaming. It's something that should be emphasised a lot more.
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby katarn » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:24 pm

I agree, I think gaming can be a great addition for lots of people. It can be very relaxing (as long as the game itself isn't too stressful by its very nature) for people who have other issues in their lives.

As an 'escape' I think it works much better than watching TV, since it's far less passive and really takes your mind away from your troubles. For some of us, difficult aspects of our lives can't really be 'fixed' as such and having access to something that can put your mind at rest is incredibly useful. (Something a lot of people don't really understand)

And of course some people just play games purely because they enjoy playing games, and as long as they don't go mad and become addicted to 80 hours a week WoW'athons it's a perfectly good hobby.

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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby DjchunKfunK » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:48 pm

I think like any hobby gaming can help you relax and de-stress, which are both things vital to a healthy mind and I am sure they could be used to help those with mental issues. I only think certain types of games can help though when it comes to mental issues. Like say music, I don't think all types of games would help when it comes to actual medical conditions.

I do think they can also have the opposite effect and they can be detrimental. When it comes to addiction I strongly believe that you can become addicted and terrible cases in places like China have born this out. That's not to say that games themselves are addictive, but like anything they can be taken to an extreme. I also think certain types of games can be detrimental at times, DOTA for instance has made me irritable and annoyed and after playing I can be more likely to snap at someone.

Anything that requires you to make an emotional and mental investment can have effects both good and bad.

EDIT: I'm trying to think why a book or film cannot illicit the same kind of reaction from me. I think with films I often turn my brain off and prefer not to get so invested. It might also be time spent in these mediums that means effects from games are more noticeable.
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Sly Boots » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:55 pm

This is a difficult subject for me and one I'm not really ready to open up about fully yet, on a public forum at least. I do think that there are many positive aspects to gaming, not least socially (and this is one of my main internet happy places, which I wouldn't have stumbled into if not for gaming) and the vast majority of people are able to enjoy it as a hobby without feeling the need to take it to extremes.

But there was a period of my life, not even so very long ago, where for me it had got out of control and I was basically addicted, as in letting it having negative consquences on my work, health and the people around me.

The funny thing is, if pushed I would say I'm not an addictive personality. I dabbled briefly with smoking in my teens when I was going out with a girl who smoked and worked in an office where people did, but never felt any compulsion to do it outside of those social situations and after the breakup of that relationship and moving on from that job, in the 20-odd years since I've not smoked. I drink on the rare occasions I meet up with friends, but rarely do at home or when alone. I've never gambled nor felt any urge to do so. But give me a new game I really want to play and things can spiral quite quickly even now when I'm fully aware of the effect they can have on me. It's like I have to constantly police myself.

I agree with Dj above, really. It can be good or bad, and that's largely down to individuals (and in the same individual can even be both).
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby gpa-gone-west » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:14 pm

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, using my own personal experiences from the past, that boredom combined with any sort of mental illness spells disaster that can lead to a fatal conclusion. It almost did with me twice in my twenties. Boredom alone isn't the issue, far from it. But boredom are where your daemons hide. Gaming was, in my case, a saviour. Without it, I doubt I would have survived. Now, not only is it a hobby, but its pretty much the only way I can completely switch off. My youngest son Louis, is transgender. So he has obviously gone through some traumatic times. He, like me, has also found gaming to be a great saviour.

But as has been mentioned already, gaming can become a dangerous addiction. But addiction is an interesting word. How do you define it? During my twenties and early thirties my gaming week would be broken down (roughly), as this:-

Monday to Friday - 4 to 5 hours a night.
Saturday & Sunday - 10 hours each day.

That would total, on average, around 45 hours a week. Looking at the raw numbers an observer would think I was addicted. I was never addicted and could have walked away at any time. I played that many hours because a) It was a great hobby b) I had nothing else to do.

Gaming has been great for me, and remains so. I hope we are all still here well into our seventies, putting the young un's right.
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Prey » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:20 pm

Wrathbone thankfully touched upon one aspect that many misunderstand to do with gaming and that is the whole thing surrounding it being something so often done in complete solitude that it must do us no good. They could not be more wrong. Many of us actively welcome social isolation because frankly society today scares the fuck out of some of us so much and I know that sounds a bit extreme but society in general has changed and much of it not for the better. Why can't we just be allowed to enjoy our own company without everyone telling us we need 'to get out more' or 'we are worried about you' constantly? I appreciate the concern but no. My lifestyle doesn't involve pubs or clubs or social events that make me feel like I don't belong instead I opt to spend it safe and sound in familiar surroundings occupying myself either by myself or with my family. That's all I need.

For four or more years now I've pretty much lost all contact with friends who I had known for twenty odd years due to differing reasons some of which involved a major loss of trust by people who turned out very different to who you once knew and as much as I miss the weekly get together we used to do what I most certainly don't miss is all the 'freindship handling' that comes hand in hand with being part of such a social group. When will we talk next. When will we have time for each other. Will they bother to ring me if I don't ring them? When will we celebrate X's next birthday or promotion etc etc. I guess that can sound somewhat ludicrous to those of you who do still do such things daily but to me I just reached a point in my life where I just felt that I needed none of it and so I stepped away from it completely like the stories you hear of a one time millionaire who retired from all social life to some secluded woods somewhere to live as a simple hermit and is now the happiest he has ever been free of the shackles and tropes of modern life. I now control everything around me in a much more positive fashion only because I don't have the negativity bleeding in from time to time that having friends can bring into your life but only because at one point 70-80% of what I'd get caught up in while having friends was stuff I'd rather not. I'm sure you can relate.

The problem always stems from the fact people misunderstand just why you don't wish to be around them like you used to because obviously it's difficult not to take that 100% personally. Try sitting down with them and explaining it as best you can how you can because just because you don't want to get shit faced every weekend or you made excuses not to do something they wanted you to do doesn't necessarily mean you don't miss them when they are not around or they mean any less to you. I know that sounds so very conflicting but bleh - I miss having friends. I don't miss having friends. Plus my remaining friends are all in their 20's and with being a mid 40 year old I'm just not up for half the stuff they no doubt want to do any longer, I've been there done that long ago and had my fill. I'd rather them go off and do it themselves without feeling like I'm the one they will have to look after cause I can't keep up.

What I'm getting at mainly is that I don't see why we must be dubbed as the social outcast whether that be of our own choosing or not we are doing nobody any harm and have far more direct and yes positive control over our little hidden away lives than most others can dream of. Happy who we are (well to an extent at least as we still can't escape our overly active minds) where we are and who we choose to be with when and if we choose to be with them.

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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Wrathbone » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:18 pm

Spot on, Prey, I can relate to a lot of that. I do still socialise a fair amount, but I do it on my terms. I think it's fair to say when you hit your thirties it's a lot easier to reject social events without being completely ostracised by friends, probably because many (most?) people at that age start to view them as chores rather than opportunities for fun. If I don't want to go on a night out I'll just say that, whereas until a year or two ago I'd always make some excuse. People don't like excuses, but I find they do appreciate the honesty of "nah, can't be arsed". :lol: And if they don't appreciate it, well... that's not my problem.

I may be lucky as I've never disliked solitude, even for extended periods, and almost never experience loneliness. I do experience social fatigue, though, and I find that recharging my batteries with gaming fixes that.
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Rusty » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:42 pm

Wow, what a big subject. I feel that I do game a lot but having a girlfriend has tempered my hours I play down to a few each day.
If I was single I would be playing all evening until bed time (and bedtime would be pushed back to 1am until I get up at 6am the same day)
So does that make it addictive? I love it and I don't think it has a negative affect on my life.

In fact it positively helps with work as being in an IT environment everyone (well, nearly everyone) has the same outlook at gaming and there are many unsaids that are just understood between gamers.

This forum will also be biased towards a positive approach based on our collective sameness. Just saying something liek 'Monkey island' in here and in my work will have the same effect. Stories of when you first saw/played it and fond memories.
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Prey » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:52 pm

That's just it. Many of the related experienced and stories we all share (as one with the hive mind!) are no different to the obligatory 'hey do you remember your first car' or something similar although we all have that too. Much of ours are just based around video games and gaming or technology in general and as you say we can utter a single word such as Decent or Daikatana or when we first ditched 56k and all manner of discussion can be brought from it based on both opinion and experience. Ok perhaps not Daikatana. :lol: :lol:

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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Lee » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:37 pm

Gaming really helps you to relax and get some things on your mind out of the way that are bringing you down. Bit of clicking the mouse and keyboard is pretty soothing to me.

@gpa-gone-west Aye addiction is one thing but when you put say the hours spent playing them games. How many people do you know that watch tv for the same hours. Both are form of escapism. It's when it starts to have a negative effect on your health you have to have a deep think about it.
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby gpa-gone-west » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:44 pm

Prey wrote:That's just it. Many of the related experienced and stories we all share (as one with the hive mind!) are no different to the obligatory 'hey do you remember your first car' or something similar although we all have that too. Much of ours are just based around video games and gaming or technology in general and as you say we can utter a single word such as Decent or Daikatana or when we first ditched 56k and all manner of discussion can be brought from it based on both opinion and experience. Ok perhaps not Daikatana. :lol: :lol:


Is this the right moment to admit I actually bought Daikatana? :shock:
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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Prey » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:49 pm

Sadly gpa there's never a right moment to admit you bought Daikatana. Shame on you.

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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Jez » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:53 pm

I think gaming can be an amazing help with mental illness. What it patently isn't is a cure, and it can be unhelpful when taken to excess.

It's like anti depressants. Marvellous at helping but they aren't a cure and at high levels are dangerous.

Mental illness hits most people at varying degrees at some point I think and does gaming help? I'd say so but only to a point. If gaming exacerbates the root causes of the illness then I think it can be very unhelpful and even dangerous. It's like any compulsive behaviour in that sense I suppose.

Bottom line identify and makes in roads to fix the root cause, the rest slots into place.

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Re: Mental Health & Gaming

Postby Mantis » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:19 pm

At the end of the day, I think there are worse things to get addicted to, and if you are susceptible to addiction then you will find other outlets to latch onto. The only real issue is that gaming exposes younger kids to developing that kind of behaviour far more than many other forms of entertainment do. I would definitely say I was borderline an addict at one point, and I do still sometimes find it hard to really tear myself away from something I'm really getting into even if it's 1am, but I generally don't play on anywhere near the same level that I used to, but that's mostly down to real life getting in the way, you can't play for 5 hours a day like you were still a teenager when you're 28. Now I play maybe two or three hours every couple of days with a bit more at weekends if I'm not out. It does bring the whole gambling argument to the fore when you think of how it can develop those tendencies in kids.

Funnily enough, nobody ever seems to get that I play multiplayer games with close friends just as much as I play solo. They will turn their nose up at the idea of playing with people whilst gaming as if it's some sort of inferior form of socialising. If anything some of my favourite moments over the years have been with friends on a Saturday night game sesh. What's the alternative? We go sit in a pub and chat shit while spending money on overpriced beer? Sure that's nice sometimes, but nowadays we're far more likely to have a night in playing local coop games on the sofa or just playing online from the comfort of our own homes, still chatting shit, cheap beer optional. I'm quite introverted and like to recharge on my own, but gaming with friends is such a fantastic experience, it never fails to cheer me up if I've had a shitty week.

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