Videogames: the therapy

20Aug08

I’m sure this is unusual. At least I’ve never seen anyone do or have read about something relating videogames to depression in a good way.

For starters let me say that many therapies work under the premise that you simply can’t have your brain thinking on really more than one thing at the same time so if you are really concentrated on something you simply won’t be able to lock into onther less desirable thoughts like the ones that ocurr in depression, for example. Even though I’ve tried many of these “brain switching” techniques I have my own thoughts about them. At least in my experience I can say that they do work at different intensities but sometimes depression is so strong and you feel so dead inside that even if you manage to hold continuously to an activity there is still something behind… like if it were working on the background and it sort of throws the whole “brain switching” thing to a wishful-thinking category at least in some degree. It’s like if depression were just waiting for you to finish what you are doing. Actually if you come to think about it it could make sense if we just assume the brain works in more than one dimension (in a non linear way, this is like parallel processing). The other hypotesis would be that maybe depression is not only an affliction of the mind, but also one that encompasses also body, spirit and/or soul which would also make sense. I guess this deserves another post by itself but maybe later.

Now back to the games. This one day, a couple of years ago, I was very depressed and I was moving some boxes around and I found this really good computer game that I never played. It was actually a game released in 2001 that I sort of skipped and I had it wrapped in the original box because I had bought it on some sale for 2 bucks. The weekend was boring and I was feeling so dead and rotten outside and had nothing to do so I just kind of forced myself and opened up the box and installed the game CDs in my computer. I was not motivated at all… but I was doing it anyway. Then I started playing.

By then I was unemployed and I remember I played and played for like a week pretty much non-stop until I finished the game. The whole week I would be motivated just for the game, but hey! at least something motivated me. I was really bad. Still, the brainswitching premise didn’t work for me as I said… once I paused or stopped playing for the day I would get back on depression but if you ask me I can say that yes, it really helped me put my mind off depression at least for the extended periods I played which could be seen as a major SOS technique. When in need of emergency relief I know it works on me.

Since then I have been getting my hands on more computer games and a couple of months ago I also bought an XBOX360. I think this kind of therapy does not produce lasting results as I said, but it is a life saver. I’ve been playing computer and video games all my life so I have a few recommendations for all of you out there no matter gender or age… some games are somehow better at keeping your head completely busy and that’s the goal. Try to get these not-so-old games (you should be able to buy them for just a few bucks by now and they will pretty much work on any modern PC easily), install them and play them in your computer until you are finished with them.

-Starcraft: probably the best for this, but be careful of the addiction that the multiplayer mode can do to you. Believe it or not I have a friend (and heard of plenty) who was literally addicted to this to the point he needed to seek treatment… this is the least we need.

-Diablo and Diablo II: great RPG games.

-Quake I and II: great first person shooters.

-Doom I and II: same as above… just great.

Others like Quake III, Doom III, the Medal of Honor series, the Call of Duty series and Halo are also great but require higher spec PCs and probably won’t cost as cheap.

All the games I mentioned are very fast-paced and demand almost a complete commitment from your mind and I think that is exactly the point because we need to minimize the times in-between in order to keep our heads busy as much as possible. If you are feeling very, deeply depressed then I really recommend playing some games. As I said it doesn’t seem to be a permanent fix, but it can be literally a life saver in situations when you feel you can barely function and going out seems impossible and in severe depression. In fact many sources will blame videogames for unhealthy mental consequences (yes, even depression) but I think everything and anything taken to irrational levels will harm you.

Feel like checking out more about videogames? I recommend ign and gamespot.

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