How video games strengthen our mental health

How video games strengthen our mental health

More and more games make psychic health or mental illnesses on one or the other kind on topic. While in particular, Indie games such as Light Blade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Celeste were known to be “Mental Health” to address, mental illnesses are now found in larger productions such as current return. However, video games are not only used as a projection area for mental health content, but can also contribute to improving mental health (for example wellbeing and emotional stability ).

At the same time, especially Populomes are warning against computer game addiction, which is named in the latest edition of the International Classification System for Diseases (ICD-11) as “ Gaming Disorder “. So this article does the attempt to bring light into the dark of Gaming and Mental Health Myths: Can Games really help to make ourselves feel better with mental illness? How can games help to help us stay in difficult times? And when will it be unhealthy?

to the author

Jolina has discovered online role-playing games early on to get in touch with others. Some time she was even rimmering Raid-Bossen rather than driving on Dorffest with her real-life friends. Although online friends and real-life friends now hold the scales, she still likes to play together with others as al1. As a psychologist, she does not just smell the waves between crescis with friends, but also in e-sports teams for a good atmosphere and constructive communication.

to play the therapeutic relationship

If persons see therapists, they often expect someone who dissolves their problems as if the psyche simply would simply be a leaked pipe where the soul clamp must screw around and shake a bit of it. And in fact, a common search for problem solutions can be an important and meaningful part of therapy.

However, a very ** famous study in the course of experts is something else for the course of treatment: the relationship between therapist and client. There is therefore a special importance to the relationship design at the beginning of each therapy. As a therapist, I would like to give the patient in the feeling of being safe in interaction and opened with one’s own feeling and ultimately be accepted as a person as one is.

You may now ask you what this swank has to do from my therapeutic experience with video games. Well, similar to how we build a relationship with people, slowly stack and get to know each other, so the first steps in a new video game form: I find the game interesting? Is it to me what I wish – e.g. Fun, challenge, space to realize me? And do I feel picked through the game or should I try another? But what exactly does it have to happen so that I feel “picked up” from therapists or video games?

How can video games boost your mental health?
Content warning: The articles of Mental Health Week deal with different aspects of mental health and sometimes include examples of negative emotions and unhealthy behaviors that can cause negative reactions in some people. Please be careful with texts that potentially contain triggering topics for you.

* Important note: * If you have depression or self-destructive thoughts: you are not al1. Please get help. For example, in the German Depression Help under 0800/33 44 533 or free advice centers.

Validation – if it is okay not to be “okay”

Validation refers to a therapeutic technique that affects the current thinking, feeling and acting as it is, assumes, and appreciates. To convey “I see that you are not feeling well” And “You are not wrong or defective as a person.” Video games that represent mentally-diseased protagonists and figures can convey those affected and point out that, for example, fishing diseases or depressive maps are not al1. One step further is the game Life IS Strange: True Colors , which is not only therapeutically meaningful strategies for the emotion regulation (e.g. Fighting diary), but also very exemplary shows how validation can look in everyday life and even better ones Make friends.

Life is Strange, and so are Feelings…

In Life is Strange: True Colors takes a special importance to perceive and validate feelings. Namely, the protagonist Alex Chen has the power to recognize emotional states of other persons, but also entirely into them into them. Through the ability to see the world through the emotional glasses of those affected and to be fully adopted in their experience, it can help them empathicize them to overcome difficult emotional states.

As a result, the basic features of the therapeutic approach are actually illustrated, even if I have unfortunately as a therapist unfortunately without super forces. Both in TRUE COLORS, as well as in therapy but sometimes in friendship, however, it is about it: to perceive what feelings and thoughts occupy a person employing them, and to offer what the person needs. These are not always solutions, sometimes it is also “only” the feeling of being seen in his suffering and accepted.

Life is Strange: True Colors thematize however his predecessors extensive thoughts and feelings and thus indirectly psychic health. Games, which are specifically psychic diseases and thus topics such as depression, addiction and trauma, despite rising popularity, but still rather a niche. And with all the love of difficult topics and psychology, I also find it nice to simply dive into another world and do not hit me with difficult topics. And that’s okay, because the intuitive incentive of video games is now having fun. But how can games, even if they do not talk about “mental health”, help us make it better?

There are more articles from our mental health theme week here :

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more on the subject

Themed Week Mental Health: What awaits you & all articles in the overview


Fun, Fun, Fun!… or are there any more? As well as in my article on the topic Random effects Is there a look at how video games can satisfy our psychological needs. To the four psychic basic needs to Grawe include Lustgreen / Dismissal, Control / Orientation, Near / Binding and Increase / Stabilization of the Self-value. Especially clear and intuitive, of course, that video games satisfy our need for “pleasure gain” or fun. It just makes you buck, and we like to do things that make the buck. So far, but what does that look like with the other needs?

In addition to fun, video games can give us very different things, namely the feeling of achieving something. Video games repeatedly face challenges, whether in single player or multiplayer. To tackle them and triumph over the annoying Dark Souls boss or another team, gives us the feeling to have done something and can afford, which has a positive effect on our self-esteem and ultimately our self-concept. It is also closely linked with so-called power fantasies and superiority feelings, which can be predominantly functional or healthy in video games. Dysfunctional in this case would be to live out, in which you come to damage yourself or other people (e.g., psychic). Thus, I mean infestations and boundaries of any kind, especially sexistic utterances and comments on how to feel female players still often in voice chats.

Koop Games as Virtual Quality Time

What many players were already clear, but it was also illustrated especially by the Corona Pandemic: About the contact in video games one can build relationships and get. In particular, MMORPGs should be established by the internal social structures as well as created connections. The numerous, sometimes intercontinental, romantic relationships that have arisen through the common play are witnesses that video games can satisfy by their opportunities for social interaction closeness and binding needs, at least to a certain extent.

A closer look requires the control & orientation needs. For some people, it can be a good feeling as daily routine quests, for others it is rather stressful. However, the success of games like Stardew Valley shows that many players are also interested in having a self-determined, clear frame with small “to-dos”. Tasks to complete and implement structures serving our need to exercise control over our (virtual) life and of my viewing is also one of the main reasons to play games of this kind.

The satisfaction of needs is thus one of the most important functions that can afford video games in the preservation and construction of mental health. The Behind The Screens-podcast , which has dedicated itself to the subject of psychology of and in video games, comes to the conclusion: “If I feel competent, autonomously and socially involved, this can also be a certain resistance Get to requirements and events that challenge my personal well-being, my health. “

Nevertheless, there is also authorized concerns when it comes to the influence of video games on mental health.

When will it be unhealthy?

Now, with a somewhat simplified look, the conclusion suggests that video games could be the solution for all our (mental-health) problems if they can satisfy all needs to a certain extent. This is not that easy. It’s also a difference as and with what we satisfy our needs. If we try to provide all our needs through a source, we will not only depend on it, but also get into serious difficulties when this source is just that source (e.g., through failures, switched servers or loting streaks).

When the fun is looking for

The gaming disorders, which is called colloquially computer game addiction, is characterized by other addictions not primarily due to the scope of the game consumption itself, but by loss of consumption. Affected people have difficulty reducing their gambling pens and need more and more playing time to feel bad. As a result, things like school, work or friends are often neglected against better knowledge about the long-term consequences.

The connection with needs will be clear if you look at current studies to the concomitant diseases of the GD. Often, it is related to other mental illnesses such as depression or social fear. This suggests that the excessive playing of video games is at least in some cases a replacement fatigue for needs for which those affected do not have to know or have no other functional opportunity in their lives. In these cases, therapeutic treatment is recommended and often necessary.

However, for the vast majority video game connoisseurs, this is not the case, and the dipping in virtual worlds can then be an easy-to-access and interactive way to meet their own needs.

An important request: Since our articles from the Mental Health Week are more sensitive topics that have partially requested us a lot while writing, we ask you for a friendly and understanding comment culture at this point. Thank you and have fun reading!

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