Back in November the wonderful Ashley Barry interviewed me about this blog for The Mary Sue. In it, I talked about using games to self-medicate and help myself deal with mental illness. I also talked about how I, well, I suck at people. I don’t make friends easily, never have, and I can’t even seem to consistently manage Twitter people because I always feel like I have no idea what to say and anything I do say will be awkward and random. In a rather epic temper tantrum of people-hating (as I tend to do when I get hurt) I informed my family this week that that I’m giving up on relationships with human beings and I’m just going to start talking to video game characters to abate loneliness. While I’m sure that sounds as though I’ve finally gone off the deep end, it got me thinking about using games as a means to not only self-medicate, but to shut up that little voice that tells me (and probably many other people too) that I deserve loneliness or that I do in fact suck so much at people that I will never be able to keep a friend for more than a couple months.
I do feel better about myself and less like the Friendless Wonder when I’m playing games. Sure, there are a couple games that don’t make me feel so great; I have no one to play Destiny with and the one friend I made in ESO ditched me because I can’t use voice chat, but for the most part I forget that I suck at people when I’m playing because I don’t in games. I can play Dragon Age and make (almost) everyone my friend. In Skyrim, my follower stays with me even if I accidentally stab them. I got Piper to fall for me in Fallout 4. Video games give you a social experience even if you’re utterly petrified of being social (or if you’re just incredibly bad at it, like me).
What’s more, games give you a sense of accomplishment which can work wonders when you’re depressed and/or lonely. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not gotten dressed or left the house, but dammit I didn’t die fighting the giant Mirelurk in Fallout or I got a whole series of perfect headshots in a shooter game and told my family all about it (they know better than to question my gaming achievements by now, they just smile and nod). Simply put, playing games let me do something with someone on days when I can’t manage to do anything else (which is often in the winter months) and that’s certainly better than crying on the couch about what a terrible wretch I am because my mental illness scares people away.
So I’m curious, are video games therapeutic for you? If so, how do they help?