Welcome to our roundup of the best mental health and gaming stories you may have missed. This week, let’s enjoy a few reminders of how much good games can do at their best.
“My friend Matt had been suggesting I try live action role playing (Larp for short) for a while. He’d already been to a few Curious Pastimes events and he was convinced that the combination of camping, socialising and pretending to be a character in a magical fantasy setting – complete with Vikings and Arthurian knights – would be right up my street. Even though I was teetering on the brink of a full-blown depression, I was publicly still trying to hold things together. So when he called to book our first weekend, I couldn’t find a way to say: “No thanks, I’ve got a busy few days of lying in bed weeping planned” without rather giving the game away.”
Writing for I News, Kate Townshend tells a delightful story of how LARP changed her life.
“Twenty years ago today, Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh was released and I want to take this opportunity to recognize a game that was wildly ahead of its time, one that dealt with themes that popular mediums today are still trying to figure out. Join me below as we meet protagonist Curtis Craig and follow his journey of pain, repression, guilt, and horror.”
Phantasmagoria was a disturbing game, and some of its unsettling content is described in detail in this Bloody Disgusting retrospective. But as the article explores, it was also a game ahead of its time in a lot of ways, portraying themes of mental health with more nuance than your average horror game, and portraying gay and bisexual characters surprisingly casually for a game released in the 1990s.
“Redditor gcpizzle23 reached out to his 5th edition D&D community one day with a very simple post: ‘I have unfortunately fallen on some hard times and I must sell my D&D books. If anyone wants one or all of these it’d be a great help.’ The post included a photo with 8 of the main books from this latest iteration of Dungeons & Dragons, minus the player’s guide, which he assured everyone was available thought it wasn’t in as good of condition as the others. He didn’t go in to much detail about his particular trouble, and was polite in responding to each inquiry. Then something amazing happened: people stopped asking him to purchase these books, and instead asked how they could help him in his tough times.”
This Geek & Sundry article is just one more heartwarming reminder that our gaming communities can be wonderful, supportive places.
“It’s somewhere around 2001 or 2002. My twin sister and I have asked for a Game Boy Advance and Pokemon Silver for Christmas. My dad is not too happy about it. He tells us that gaming systems like that will make us “antisocial” and that games are something that should be enjoyed by everyone, including the audience.”
Games often get labelled as asocial, but Not Your Mama’s Gamer’s Jynx Boyne explores how they can be vital parts of our social experience.
With that, we’re off for the weekend. Whether you’re working, busy, taking it slow or settling in with the boys of Final Fantasy XV, we wish you a good one. We’ll be back Monday. Till then, take care of yourselves — and each other.