Hello, friends, and welcome to our roundup. This week, our collection of the best video game and mental health articles includes a look at the people who’ve struggled with loot boxes, a valuable conversation about the risks and rewards of creating games about our own issues, and more.
“I’ve spent the last few weeks documenting stories I received online from folks who managed compulsive spending related to micro-transactions, gachapon/loot box mechanics, and skin gambling. I wanted to know if people were actually having problems with these systems already, and I got my answer quickly enough. There are people, probably more than we think, who have been seriously impacted by the consequences of impulsive spending in games.”
Waypoint’s reporting on the impact of loot boxes is spectacular — a must-read for anyone considering the context in which some legislators are moving to ban them. This week, Germany joined the list of places considering bans.
Road to the IGF: Nathalie Lawhead’s Everything is going to be OK
“I realize that the topics that Everything is going to be OK cover are fairly weighted. It could easily become too depressing if I JUST talked about it without some way of lifting up the messages. I use humor and absurdism to make the messages more approachable. It lifts the messages up, and gives them a type of tone that I feel like a lot of people can resonate with. After all, life is ridiculous. Humor is extremely powerful when you talk about social issues. Somehow, by laughing at the worst things, you can see them for what they really are. You get strength. You don’t have to win. There might not be any way of surviving, but at least you are laughing in the face of certain doom. It’s a type of perspective that, more than ever, I feel like we need right now.”
Gamasutra interviews Nathalie Lawhead in the lead up to the IGF. In this interview, she offers a lot of insight on how games can address difficult subjects.
With voice chat coming, Heroes Of The Storm players brace for harassment
“For months, HOTS streamer FerociouslySteph has been leading the charge against voice chat in Blizzard’s universe-colliding MOBA. “Being able to voice-chat with your teammates is an indisputable game edge,” she tweeted in November, shortly after the voice chat announcement at BlizzCon. “Convenient voice chat in pick-up team games is anti-inclusivity; it forces minorities to reveal themselves to potential harassers, or be handicapped at game play.””
Until game companies can curb toxicity and harassment, should they avoid features like voice chat that are likely to make it worse? That’s the central question in this situation, as covered by Kotaku.
Celeste stresses me out, and that calms me down
“The stress of work, creative endeavors or relationships are all manageable on their own. But every so often, they can align and their impact can become overwhelming. Putting a controllable and difficult challenge in the way helps minimize their effect. Maybe this sounds like the classic idea of ‘gaming as escapism.’ But I see my love of putting myself through high-anxiety gaming more as adjusting the type of stress I invite into my life. To you, that may sound unhealthy. For me, it’s self-care.”
Over at Polygon, Jeff Ramos explores his reaction to Celeste, a masocore game about mental health.
‘Dangerous gaming’: is the WHO right to class excessive video game play as a health disorder?
“Weinstein is unconvinced. ‘In our research,’ she says, ‘we found very small correlations, if at all, of symptomology with broader life wellbeing. So we actually didn’t find, for example, that symptoms correlated with health directly.’ And without the kinds of health effects you’d see in something like drug addiction, ‘it might be that something that we think of as addiction is actually just engagement and enthusiasm’. In 2017, researcher Patrick Markey told the Guardian: ‘I think a lot of the issues come from just how we use the term ‘addiction’.'”
The debate over gaming disorder continues at The Guardian. Experts are still quite divided on the subject, so we’re likely to hear more before this recommendation is finalized one way or the other.
And with that, we’re off! We’ll be back Monday with more great stories. Until then, take care of yourselves — and each other.