“A good game gives us meaningful accomplishments – clear achievements that we don’t necessarily get from real life. -Jesse Schell
Throughout the years gaming has gotten quite the reputation. Many people think gaming harms mental health and many people believe gaming helps mental health. Personally, I believe it can do both. Just as with anything in life there is a balance that must be found. This post is about how gaming affects mental health, both the good and not-so-good.
Before we get started I wanted to give a friend a shoutout. He is currently in the process of building a positive, supportive, and engaging community on twitch. If you have twitch be sure to give him a follow and pop into his streams. His twitch name is 2insayne.
If you have a twitch community comment your twitch name below. I will follow you as well, my username name is andarabella. I do not stream at this time but I do enjoy supporting other channels.
What is Gaming
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I am pretty certain we all know what gaming is. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, gaming is:
“the practice or activity of playing computer or video games
I think handheld wireless devices will lead to interesting new styles of gaming.
— John Carmack”
Did you know that there are around 2.2 billion gamers in the world?
The website gaimin.io states: “There are approximately 2.2 billion gamers in the world. Out of the estimated 7.6 billion people living on earth, as of July 2018, that means almost a third of people on this planet are gamers. Out of those 2.2 billion gamers, 1.2 billion of those who play games are playing games on a PC.”
That is a lot of people and I am positive the numbers continue to grow yearly. The number above was calculated in 2018. It is 2022 as I am writing this post.
There are the “good” and “bad” consequences of the things we choose to engage with. With over 2.2 billion people gaming there are bound to be quite a few unpleasant experiences when it comes to the online world. Though I believe the good outweighs the bad, especially if you know how to counteract the bad.
The Downside of How Gaming Affects Mental Health
When thinking in terms of “good” and “bad” remember humans are the ones who created these concepts. There is a quote I enjoy and it goes, “What may be good for the spider is chaos for the fly.” These two words (in this post) are just identifiers of the negative and positive aspects of gaming. Don’t get too caught up in the good vs. bad debate because in the end it just is what it is. With that being said, let’s get the negative aspects out of the way first.
One downside of gaming is having to deal with trolls. If you do not know what a troll is it is someone who is intentionally rude, belittles, bullies, overly sexualizes everything and is just an awful person to game or conversate with.
Internet bullies can deeply impact your mental health, lower your self-confidence, and make you question yourself in a negative way. There is a major difference when you are cutting up and play trashing a friend vs. someone going around and harassing others.
Some ways to help combat internet trolls are:
- Getting acquainted with the block button
- Tell them how it made you feel if they keep on then block them (let’s face it, some people just do not care)
- Try not to isolate yourself, this can make the negative interaction replay in your head. Find a trusted friend you can talk to
- Tell yourself they are a complete _________ and not let it ruin your day
- In extreme cases, you may have to file a harassment report if it gets out of hand
- You can read more on stopping internet bullying at Report Cyberbullying | StopBullying.gov
If you are someone who enjoys trolling people ask yourself why and if you would like to be treated like that. Maybe seek some help. There are better things to do than going around ruining other people’s day behind a screen.
The second downfall I would like to talk about is the overconsumption of gaming. Where you lose hours and hours to gaming and it starts affecting your health, mental health, and life in general. This is where gaming can really take its toll.
However, there is a way you can balance your days to get the most out of them. Now, I will say if you are happy and doing what you love then keep on. I’m mentioning overconsumption to those who feel as if they are losing their life to gaming and not doing much of anything else with their lives. Everyone is different.
Overconsumption of games can cause you to miss out on important events, relationships, and friendships. You can also become isolated, especially if you are a lone gamer. This can mess with your mental health over time if you are not careful.
Here are some ways you can start improving your life if you feel as if gaming is sucking the life out of you:
- Find a goal to work towards. Find what you are unhappy with about yourself and make a plan to either accept it or build better habits to get to a place where you are comfortable with yourself
- Set a time to game and stick to it
- Try to go to bed at a decent time
- Hang out with, in-real-life friends away from the screens (IRL)
- Try something new
- Set an alarm to notify you to take a break, get up and stretch, walk, drink some water, pick up any mess, etc…
- Seek help if you need to
This is just for those who feel as if gaming is taking over their lives and feel awful day to day. If that is not you, then continue on, and happy gaming.
The last negative I want to go over is how gaming can cause a lot of frustration at times. Sometimes you have to repeat a level or boss over and over and… over again. It can become annoying after a while and if you are someone who has a short fuse it can trigger anger.
Anger itself isn’t bad. It’s the reaction to the anger that may cause a problem. Here are some destructive ways built-up frustration can manifest when gaming:
- Throwing the (expensive) game controller
- Lashing out on the people around you
- Going into a rage and destroying things around you
If you are someone who gets very angry when gaming, try to take a moment to pause the game and go do something else to ease your mind. After, come back and kick some butt. Sometimes you need a break.
I’ve had a few friends who raged when a game was upsetting them. All who later regretted the damage they did when upset. It’s not worth losing friends, electronics, or equipment over. Emotions will pass if you allow them the space to flow.
The Upside of How Gaming Affects Mental Health
I personally love to relax with a good game whenever I can find the focus to. There was a time I went to college to become a game designer. Though life happened and now I am aiming for psychology. I’ll more than likely go back to school to become a game designer at a later time, but for now, I am on a different quest.
One of the upsides of gaming is it can reduce stress. Especially after a long day at work or school. Coming home to another world you can dive into and get lost in can melt the day’s stress away.
Life is hard as is. I believe gaming can give you a temporary escape to something more fun and fulfilling. With so many different types of games, there is something for everyone.
Another positive is you can be a part of countless communities with like-minded people. You can meet lifelong friends and build your own community to share with others. Like 2insayne. Don’t forget to check out his channel after reading this post.
Building up others, entertaining, and creating an open space for people to come and hang out is inspirational. Thank you to all the gaming communities out there, as well as any community bringing positivity into the world.
Lastly, you can learn a lot from games. Did you know Minecraft has educational worlds for kids that are interactive when they play the game? They are free to download from the Minecraft store. There are also a lot of games for preschoolers for learning their alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, emotions, how to be kind, share, and more.
Additionally, when you are part of a campaign or playing with other players you gain communication, hand-eye coordination, teamwork, problem-solving skills, strategy, and more. All things we use in everyday life, especially in work-related settings.
With all the newer consoles you can also learn how to play instruments, learn a different language, and make education a little more fun. As you can see there are a lot of positives when it comes to the video game world.
There you have it, the good and bad when it comes to gaming and mental health. I personally believe the good outweighs the bad when knowing how to counteract the negative aspects. A lot of it boils down to you listening to yourself, knowing when to put the game down, blocking those who are being rude, making time to do something with friends, self-care, and keeping anger in check. The next time someone is harping on how bad video games are just let them know the positive side too. There are two sides to every coin.
Thank you to all who took time out of their day to read this post on how gaming affects mental health.
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Gaming definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaming
Qui. (n.d.). How many gamers are there? Gaimin. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://gaimin.io/how-many-gamers-are-there
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA). (2019, December 4). Report cyberbullying. StopBullying.gov. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/how-to-report