“That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” is a bit of an oversimplification, but sometimes it proves out. Take Dark Souls. The series is known for its infuriating, punishing difficulty, but the people who play it often talk about how they find strength and hope in its dreary halls.
Content warning: Discussion of alcohol. Spoilers for the original Dark Souls.
Destructoid recently published a great story from one of its community members who related his own struggles with addiction, and wrote about how Dark Souls helped him find a path through his recovery.
That is to say the most important skills in the game, I realized, were not skills that actually had anything to do with video games. Sure, you had to be able to control the game. But the things that really take you places are concepts like patience, perseverance, thinking critically about choices instead of acting completely on impulse, refusing to fail, understanding that many goals are attainable once you make the choice to attain them, getting back up no matter what, and knowing that it’s okay to ask for help from time to time.
We all tend to romanticize the past, and I am fully aware that I projected my own personal issues into an experience that is “just” a dark fantasy video game, but looking back now, it is no wonder as to why Dark Souls was such a special experience and perfect symbolic analogue for what was occurring in my personal life. I am not saying that Dark Souls singlehandedly is the method by which I was able to magically stop drinking – far from it. In no way am I saying that if you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem that all you have to do is play some video games and you’ll smile and feel great and forget about everything! No. It takes work and conscious effort every day.
Resilience is a key trait for dealing with any number of issues, and it’s a trait we can learn to develop. If any game could help with that, the one reminds that us that it’s always worth getting back up to try again after we fail might be a good pick.