What Do We Get Out of Games When We’re Depressed?

We’ve featured some of Johnny Chiodini’s videos before — his Low Batteries series for Eurogamer analyzes specific portrayals of mental health issues in video games, and they’re all well worth watching.

Earlier this year, he spoke at TEDxOldham, asking the question “How can a video game save a life?” It’s a broader discussion of mental health and games than Chiodini’s usual work, one that can be used to introduced a non-gaming audience to some of the mental health benefits of gaming. He talks about games that distract us from the immediacy of our problems, games that give us boost of self-worth when we need it, and games that help us build supportive communities.

Now we have games coming out every single year designed around cooperation, around communication, and around fostering communities. Now these game communities–each one designed around a a different video game–they’re designed to celebrate the game everyone is playing, sure, but they’re also designed to get people sharing their own experiences and paying attention to the experiences of others.

In other words, these communities being fostered around video games are designed to get people reaching out to others and helping them have a better time, and ultimately, that is exactly the kind of support network somebody suffering with a mental health disorder ought to have access to.

If, like a lot of us, you struggle with the distinction between healthy distraction and unhealthy avoidance, give this a watch. It’s a good reminder that there are many good, healthy reasons to play games — far more than just escape.

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