Videogames as a defence against depression

Everybody needs to hold onto a dream in order to function. That dream could be anything from being a rock star to becoming a mother or father; a published author, the owner of a small business, a surgeon, an actor or actress, a politician, a sports star. Sometimes, it’s the possibility – however large or small – of realising that dream that drives you. At other times, merely seeing the dream is enough to comfort; a reminder that there are things in life worth having and worth working for.

This idea is, sometimes subconsciously, behind the creation and popularity of a massive chunk of existing fiction and art. A song or poem might grab your attention because, for example, it hooks into your feelings of despair – or hope. A book or film might start with a ‘what if’ concept you once considered yourself, and take it places you would never have thought of. Any form of entertainment is able to present you with an existence you would love to explore. Videogames are able to do so with one crucial advantage over all others. They encourage – in fact, actively require – you to step into this existence and take part.

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news4geeks3612d ago (Edited 3612d ago )

I don't agree with this. Video games are addictive and are used to escape reality. We feel better during the game, but when the game is over the realisation that you have wasted hours of your life living out your dreams in a virtual world instead of real life kicks in. It just exacerbates depression.

@lewis - I can't point to any tests but you could find them and they are not inconclusive. The games are deliberately designed to tap into the human psychology, especially MMORPGs. Trophies and achievements are addictive for that same reason. Multiplayer gaming again for that very same reason. I can't remember what the psychological addiction is but if you google it you'll find it.

LewisDenby3612d ago

"videogames are addictive" - Evidence, please. Almost all the research conducted in this area is either inconclusive or negatively conclusive.

grailly3612d ago

fun is addictive, so if you think video games are fun...

LewisDenby3612d ago

@grailly - Hmm, not really, 'addictive' has quite a specific definition if we're talking about mental health issues, as this article is.

GammaTru3612d ago

I know what tests you mean. There was an article on Gamasutra about game mechanics using similar techniques to rats trapped in a skinner box. There are a lot of games which do use mechanics to try and keep players hooked for as long as possible. Whether they are effective or not would require a separate study altogether though.

I think games as a method of escapism can be used to distract people from their own problems. Sometimes this is a good thing, but sometimes, especially with serious depressive illnesses, it may just be a method of avoiding those issues instead of working through them.

JsonHenry3612d ago

Video games are a hobby. Some people take their hobbies to extremes. Just like lots of people drink but only a small % of those people are actually "alcoholics".

If a person has an addictive personality they will find something to be addicted to. Be it video games, booze, drugs, or everything in between.

GammaTru3612d ago

I thought that was a really well written article and raised some very interesting points. I know that I, personally speaking, gain a lot of pleasure from video games through escapism and the freedom that games like GTA present.

I've only recently started playing Red Dead Redemption and just being allowed to explore that world and do as I please is empowering. I've spent hours in-game just riding around on my horse for the shear fun of it, although I'm not likely to ever ride a horse in the real world. It's not complete immersion as no game offers a completely life-like world just yet, but it's rather relaxing. I think games like this are one of the reasons why video games can actually help stop violence in the real world as we can act out our fantasies there.

LewisDenby3612d ago

Interesting piece and some good ideas. I think there's a lot more to think about with mental health issues than just empowerment, though - although certainly it's an area to be considered.

Cloudberry3612d ago

I used videogames as a defense against boredom, that's for sure.

Besides, the games I played are fun too.

scruffy_bear3612d ago

Same as me I play some game's just because I'm board to dead and nothing else to do

ape0073612d ago

i agree with as a "defense against boredom"

yes boredom not DEPRESSION, some people use the word depression as a meaning to being bored

when u have depression, it's almost impossible to sit down and have fun

Cpt_kitten3612d ago

i use games to escape the depression i have as well as the stress, works really well too thank you very much

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