Weekly INT Boost – Expanding Horizons

Welcome to the weekend, and our roundup of the best mental health and gaming articles you may have missed. The big news this week is that gaming addiction has been called into question, but there’s a lot more to read about keeping our communities, and ourselves, healthy.

Gaming addiction probably isn’t a real condition, study suggests

“The manual suggests that people suspected of suffering from gaming disorder must fulfil five or more criteria from a list of nine that include: lying about time spent gaming; jeopardising jobs, careers or education because of participation in gaming; and using gaming to relieve anxiety. They must also feel distress over their gaming habits for a – yet to be defined – period of time. To investigate the potential prevalence of the disorder based on these criteria, Netta Weinstein at Cardiff University, UK, and her colleagues used a nationally representative sample informed by US census data to identify 2316 people over the age of 18 who regularly play games online.”

While headlines about this study have been a bit overstated — a single study can’t prove that Internet gaming disorder doesn’t exist — the results are certainly interesting. They show that gaming may not be the cause of distress for people who otherwise meet the criteria of Internet gaming disorder, but rather a symptom of other issues or causes of unhappiness. New Scientist has more.

Different as they are, Supergiant’s games all explore tolerance and the ways we we deal with disaster

“Supergiant’s three games all helped me consider the role of the individual and our relationships with each other in different ways. They made me see how hard it can be to challenge your own perceptions and how this can only work if we try to stay open-minded. They made me see how the wrong decision can seem like the right thing to do and how easy running from consequences rather than accepting them can look.”

Overwhelmingly, games about disasters and apocalypses are about how we’ll turn on each other more than they’re about how we’ll be there for each other. This PC Gamer article explores how beneficial it can be to see different takes on disaster and the end of the world, and how the games of Supergiant increasingly fill that role.

A streaming marathon made it easy to treat my body like garbage

“Previously, I figured it was a matter of priorities—that building healthy habits around streaming simply came down to mind over matter. Forgive me, for I was an incorrect doofus. The biggest thing I learned while streaming for tens of bleary-eyed hours this weekend is just how easy (and even tempting) it is to just shoo away those pesky hunger, ache, and exhaustion signals your body sends you.”

Over at Kotaku, Nathan Grayson opens up about a weekend Wolfenstein binge that taught him that slipping into excessive, dangerous streaming marathons isn’t always obvious when you’re in the midst of one. It’s a strong argument for setting firm limits on our streaming time.

The physical glass ceiling: When the Git Gud mentality turns ableist

“When it comes to ableism, it’s important to remember that physical limitation goes beyond a person’s struggle with certain forms of movement. The issues that affect cognitive performance are not limited to temporary, easily-adjustable problems like fatigue and hunger—they, too, are physical. Studies show that many of the forms of mental performance issues can be tied back to minor brain damage inflicted by neglect and abuse sustained during infancy and childhood, including limited attention span, difficulties with sensory perception, or impaired response times, variables key to playing games. Sometimes, when we mock people’s videogame skills, we’re actually mocking their trauma. And that’s without even getting into how genetics and class play a factor.”

A lot of digital ink has been spilled on the topic of game difficulty and gatekeeping in recent weeks, but Holly Green’s take for Paste is an important one. When we prioritize technical skill over people, we shoulder out a lot of folks who have every right to be part of the video game community. Not to draw arbitrary lines around who’s allowed to be “bad” at video games, but it’s necessary to remember that for a lot of people, video game skill can’t be achieved just by trying harder or practicing more.

And with that, we’re off. We’ll be back next week with more great stories from the worlds of mental health and gaming. Until then, take care of yourselves — and each other.

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