How Role-Playing Video Games are Good for my Depression

I have been dealing with depression over January and what keeps my sanity intact outside of writing are video games. I wanted to share this chapter in my memoir. On the memoir front, I am not looking at it again until next week (in my ongoing idea to step away and try to figure out my next step.) Enjoy!

Depression and Video Game in my Life

In my experiences over my lifetime, role-playing video games have been a way for me to combat deep depression and everything that comes from being Bipolar. What makes role-playing video games especially effective against depression is that role-playing games will take you, for a few hours, out of your own world. And for me, it is always a chance to get out my own head.

When we create characters for a role-playing game, we are creating a character that we can be proud of, when in real life we are just average people dealing with problems that are often beyond our control. Our characters usually do the right thing, unless your character is chaotic, and in the end, we can be a hero that saves the world or gets the girl. But, it goes deeper than just being a hero. 

Role-playing games allow us to continue a journey of progression. When we complete quests, it makes up feel accomplished and as our characters become more powerful through experience, it can raise our emotions and put is in a better mood. To me, quests in a role-playing game can teach us to set realistic goals compared to real life where we are constantly setting unattainable goals. When we finally reach the in-game goals it’s amazing feeling for someone with depression and sadness, loneliness, and restlessness is their constant campion in the real world. To feel good even for a moment is an amazing feeling. 

An example of an unattainable goal would be to think that you can conquer your depression all at once during the winter season when traditionally depression can reach its peaks due to lack of sunlight. In a role-playing game, you can set goals like building the ultimate weapon in the game, and when you achieve that success it can be a mood booster. I can remember some of the so-called “impossible bosses” that I have beaten over my career as a gamer, and every victory put me in a great mood because I had to work hard to that victory. It is a lot like when I write, the feeling is similar. 

Getting back to how we create characters in role-playing games, it is not unusual to make a character that is far from who we are in real life. I think that is the point really. In my own gaming experience, I have little in common physically to my created character, but it is usually a projection of what we want to be or at the very least who we imagine ourselves in our minds. We create these characters that represent what we would love to be in real life like being powerful, good-looking, or even in some cases smarter than ourselves. 

When depression takes over and I get lost in my own head, it is so hard to just be “outside my body.” But with role-playing games in just a few hours into playing I have seen real changes in my mood every time I game. The things that were bothering me seem to be in the rearview mirror while I play. I can interact with other characters in the game and I can meet challenges head-on.

The role-playing games that I love the most are the ones that challenge my mind. Turn-based strategy role-playing games have long been a favorite of mine because it takes so much to play the game. The right combination of characters (healers, tanks, and magic characters) and strategy win the day. 

I also want to talk about the Dark Souls series. I have beaten every game in the series, and those who have played the game know, it is the most challenging game out there in the gaming world, at least in my opinion. From the start, you play and (it seems) an endless slew of bad guys and bosses. In fact, one of the first things you fight in each game is a hard boss. It is the most frustrating and amazing gaming experience because it is a challenge from the start.

God forbid if you have 10 million souls, you die, and then die again and lose them forever is the most frustrating this in the world. But even if you lose all those souls, it is possible to get more. That is so relatable to life, because depression will eventually get you, it’s the way of the world for someone who is Bipolar. But, like the game, you can always bounce back with life. Just because you lost weeks, months, or even years to your depression, life has a funny way of moving on. So why not learn that failure is inevitable both in gaming and in life.

It just happens that way but the game itself challenges every part of you. It is imperative that you strategize when you use souls to upgrade everything from armor, to weapons, and increasing your health or magic. You have to be organized, and ready for anything that comes your way, because any monster can end your journey. It’s something I can take out the game into my real life. I learned that challenges can be overcome even when the deck is stacked against you. It means everything when trying to control your real-life problems.

Role-playing games are a great way to take yourself out of your mind for a time. It is also something that you can learn from just by starting a journey in a game and seeing it to completion. That is relatable to real life. The hero’s journey is something that we can all relate to, but it is good to have a journey in your own life. In role-playing games the hero doesn’t always make the right choice but eventually, they learn from their mistakes and win the day. 

Who couldn’t relate to that?

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

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35 Replies to “How Role-Playing Video Games are Good for my Depression”

  1. Interesting perspective. In my own case, obsessive as i am, I would probably become stuck in virtual reality. Incidentally, take a look at Frank Tipler’s Omega Point on the subject. He believed that by the end of the universe the surviving super intelligence would have re-created everyone’s “souls” in virtual reality and hence “heaven” and “resurrection” were true! Takes all sorts…………..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Role-playing games are a lot of fun. I can lose myself for hours playing Skyrim, or Dragon Age. These games can be very addicting. Sometimes, it’s tough for me to tear myself away from these games to do my college work.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love video games. RPGs are great! It’s so much fun to get lost in a story. I’ve experienced my mood improving while playing as well. Even if I feel stuck in my life I can take out a game and play for an hour or so, usually I accomplish something even if it’s small and it improves my mood enough to get me motivated in my actual life again. I find some games relaxing and helpful for anxiety too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I have a brother who loves these kinds of games. He’s really good at them! I think that they are fun for him, but I am realizing as I read this that it might also help him deal with anxiety and depression. I never really thought of it as a helpful tool, so this was an interesting read! It makes sense what you say about escaping depressive thought cycles and boosting your mood. I know for me that finding things to get me “out of my head” when I am struggling helps me too! I think we all have different things that we enjoy and that can help pull us out of our depression, at least temporarily. Fighting to get through winter depression too over here! ❄💙

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for sharing, this was a very interesting perspective for playing video games. What’s your favorite game right now?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I played the first two Kingdom Hearts as a young teen and young adult. I just got Kingdom Hearts 3 (it was released this week) but I haven’t fully gotten into it. Hoping this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Disney is awesome! I just started playing Disney Magical World 2. The reviews I’ve read say that the Kingdom Hearts series has great stories, so that sounds exciting.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never thought about it this way but you’re absolutely right! Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have used games as medication. I have been unable to get professional help of any kind for quite a while. I don’t know how long ago I realized, just as you stated, that by playing a game I could get out of my head. You can’t obsess about… whatever… when you’re on a mission. Right now it is Skyrim for me. While not a game, almost a decade ago I started in Second Life, in part, to address various parts of myself, including mental health issues. That also worked, but people need to be careful with that because you can interact with other humans there, and other humans can be toxic especially when anonymous.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have restarted playing Skyrim so many times on different systems since it’s release. Last December I bought it again (for the fourth time) on my Nintendo Switch. Skyrim is the best Elder Scrolls game in the series.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have always found computer games, RPG’s especially a good way of forgetting your problems for a while. It’s just a case of not letting them totally dominate your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve never been hugely into video games, just not my thing, but I think they can be great for the people who really get into them, both socially and as a distraction from the shittiness of life. I guess reading fiction or watching movies/tv does the same kind of thing for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is interesting to hear an opposite opinion from what others say about video games. I am glad it helps your depression! 🎮 🎮 🎮

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yeah, I know what you mean. Video games let you experience the exciting life you wish you had and give you a sense of accomplishment when you feel that you’re lacking.

    Like

  12. This is most definitely why I can spend hours playing the Sims, or I lose track of time playing games like Life is Strange. Glad to see so many others feel the same way about video games.

    Like

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