Video Games and Depression – How do they correlate?
First off, video games are just like any other media such as anime, movies or books — they offer a different worldview for you to invest in. Video games however bring it up a notch further by including interactions in it. You can control and interact your fate in the game, as compared to reality where you have little to no control at all, and honestly, it doesn’t take rocket science to know which one sounds more appealing.
Games are great coping mechanism, because they have “virtual worries” perfect for distraction from your “real life worries”. Why should I worry about depressing crap like my bleak-as-hell future when I can just worry about getting materials for my armor in Monster Hunter? Being able to hunt down monsters thrice the size of myself and finally being able to get the materials I need for my equipment feels super rewarding. I guess what I’m trying to say is that games are perfect distraction, by immersing yourself into “virtual worries”, it can help distract you from your depression and all those feeling of helplessness that you just can’t do anything worthwhile in life. Furthermore, as I have highlighted, you’re in control and living the life of your avatar, who’s cool and badass as fuck and takes down giant monsters thrice the size of himself, and all in all, it feels extremely satisfying-it feels like you’re actually accomplishing something as compared to how you’re stuck in the purgatory known as life in the real world.
Indeed, you are living life through these characters vicariously, whether or not it’s hunting down massive monsters in Monster Hunter, or shooting down helicopters in GTA 5, or cutting down massive hordes of enemies in Dynasty Warriors. There’s just a sort of “release” here, especially from games like these — it’s like punching something really, really hard in an attempt to vent all your bottled up anger and stress, only that you’re doing this with video games. I assume this is why zombie games is a genre so popular even to these days, as they seem to satisfy this need quite nicely.
Of course, this feeling doesn’t necessarily has to come from all these badassery and Michael Bay-like explosions however. I’m usually not too fond of Nintendo overselling themselves as a “fun consoles for kids”, but in this case, it also helps tremendously in coping with depression. Nintendo is especially good with instilling nostalgia, love and creativity around that most of their games are just so fun, cute and nostalgic to play with. I mean, there’s a reason why series like Mario are still going so strong today. Honestly, I don’t play these games that much but it sort of reminds me of how some of us feel from watching moe/slice of life anime or playing similar games of that nature (Neptunia, Atelier, etc…), in that they are all extremely therapeutic.
Even Kentaro Miura, mangaka of one of the darkest, depressing, grueling manga I ever known in Berserk, ended up playing idolm@ster. If he’s playing it just to lighten up his life of constantly drawing depressing stuffs, I can totally understand. If he feels like he wants to stop drawing Berserk for awhile then all the best for him. I read a majority of Berserk myself and the gruesomeness is really nothing to sneeze at. Honestly, if he needs to take a break then let him. The only thing I’m worried about is his quality in im@s waifu, as I’m sure his waifu is shit compared to my refined tastes.
I praised games so much being a therapeutic medium to cope with depression and anxiety, but on the other side of the coin, games are like a double-edged sword. You sit there and play them non-stop for awhile and you will feel like you’re wasting a great deal of your time, it feels like you don’t have a life outside of your “power fantasy”-and the realization that everything you accomplished is completely virtual, and that you still barely done anything productive in real life; that realization that games are pretty much just a “distraction”, an escapism, can really dampen one’s spirit.
This is the one reason why I stayed off of MMOs nowadays, from what I experienced, these games really encourage you to sit and grind there for hours on end, and is really not something I would like to dabble in considering my circumstances. Slightly relevant, this is also the same reason why I stayed off of multiplayer games, whether or not it’s co-op or competitive, both requires you to spend more time than is necessary, catching up with your peers’ levels and skills. Admittedly, Monster Hunter is largely a multiplayer game as well, but I had been spending my entire time on it alone — I’m a lonely gamer.
But in the end, what does that tell you about video games and how do they correlate with depression? This is a really shitty conclusion after everything I wrote, but just like with everything, balance is key. Use games as a coping mechanism and a distraction, but don’t rely on them too heavily as a form of escapism. Although when you think about it, this doesn’t necessarily just apply to games but all things in general, as they say “too much of anything is bad”. Take your games in small doses and don’t play them anymore than is necessary.
Last but not least, play more cute games. As they always say, cuteness is justice, and moe is the embodiment of cuteness. Moe can save people’s lives, moe is our one true savior in this depressing world where we have no control over our own fates. Get more moe in your life.