Battling depression with video games

To be frank, I have felt like shit these past few weeks. No matter what I do to get my mind off my ever-present frustration, depression, and anger, it always seems to find a way to take hold of my thoughts like a cancer. It could&rsquo;ve stemmed from being passed up on a promotion despite being the most qualified candidate. It could be frustration over my non-existent love life (only 16 more years until I star in the <em>40-Year Old Virgin </em>sequel). Maybe it&rsquo;s just the exhaustion over dealing with a never-ending quarter-life crisis.</p>

While others turn to substances, food, exercise, or religion to cope with their inner demons, I’ve always turned to entertainment. In particular, video games. Despite how bad, frustrating, or boring a game may be, it fulfills one key purpose — it gives me an escape. 

Some might see this form of escapism as being cowardly or simply running away from life’s problems. Those are valid points, but that is only looking at one extreme where games are used as a form of avoidance. In moderation, video games can be used to provide a therapeutic experience for one’s mind. In my nearly 20 years playing games I’ve always found this form of escapism to be comforting. 

The act of focusing on something completely detached from our stresses stimulated by games along with other forms of entertainment is a good way to calm down. For example, I owe a lot to Mario’s Picross for helping me get to sleep during my first and only term in math. Placing all my attention on making a picture out of a 15×15 grid took my mind off of the million and one problems circling my anxious brain. Much like reading a book before going to bed, I find playing a handheld title like Pokemon or Fire Emblem before bed to be a soothing lullaby.

Considering I have left the stressful university life for the draining working life, games also serve as a way to unwind from a long day at work. After dealing with people for four to eight hours straight and receiving all forms of compliments and obscenities along the way, lounging back while plugging away at my universe in WWE 2K16, decapitating orcs in Shadow of Mordor, or blasting robot masters in Mega Man has kept me sane the last six months. Those are only a few of the thousands of possible experiences I could have.

So what was the purpose of this column? The ramblings of a madman? A therapeutic form of verbal vomit? An inspiration story for those dealing with depression to relate to? I honestly don’t have an answer for this question. 

Like everything I for in Imprint, it is what you make of it. Be it a review, critical analysis, or plain old rant, you pull from this column the messages and meanings that resonate with you. So I hope that this article has given you a different perspective on how somebody sees the world. How somebody may constantly feel like the world is suffocating them, yet still have a safe haven in their favourite hobby.  How important this medium — or any medium in fact — can be for somebody.