You’ve seen it before. We’ve all seen it. Roughly 5.6 million American’s are diagnosed per year with manic depression. It isn’t just something that pops up as you may see in commercials. It’s a imbalance that causes those suffering from it to go from extreme highs (happy places), to mediums (that meh mood), to the lows (good luck consulting these people, Chuck). To those that suffer from manic depression simple tasks like putting on shoes is like asking us to grab the nearest cinder block and put it on. To others it’s like asking them to try and walk through a blizzard without a winter suit on – it’s not happening.
Depression, as you may have read in my article on Creators, is not fun, it is not beautiful, and it’s not what television shows make you believe it is. It’s lonely, it’s painful, it’s emotionally draining, and at times it makes you feel as if all hope is gone. When I first experienced my extreme high to my extreme low – it was hard, it was damning, and it was the single most painful experience in my life. As a gamer, I’ve always played games, I’ve always loved games. If you asked anyone that knows me – my room is a sanctuary to video games. However, I didn’t always have online activity for gaming, I was one that was mostly offline unless a PC was available and could run my titles of interest; Battlefield Vietname, Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 2142, Tribes 2, Call of Duty, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six to name a few.
Thanks to the modern era of gaming we’ve seen online focuses become a pivotal role in gaming development. Titles like EA’s Battlefield, Need For Speed, and even Star Wars Battlefront have become titans within the gaming world. Those titles are easily clashed against with competitor titles such as Destiny (Bungie), Call of Duty (Activision), Overwatch (Blizzard), and even upcoming games such as LawBreakers (Boss Key Productions, Nexon America). All these titles have a common theme – they’re all shooters, they’re all filled with competitive components or focus, and they all require team work to enjoy.
As part of suffering depression, there is a trend we tend to follow: social withdrawal, negative thinking, and negative thoughts. All of these as stated in my article I linked above, depression hits all of us differently, but all of us fall into the same routine of isolation, dwelling, and ultimately negativity. As this happens our capabilities of being social begin to decline – this is where video games come in – especially competitive ones requiring team work and communication.
Over the course of the past sixteen years, I’ve fought depression endlessly, sometimes tirelessly – at the middle of this fight has been an interactive media I known much of my life: video games. In the course of going through it I began to explore the involvement of video games, how they help, what medical assistance they could provide (remember those Alzheimer articles?) for those with mental disorders.
So you may be wondering how video games helped me fight depression as well as continue do so – namely with the games listed above, and that’s where we’re going next. As someone who plays a lot of Destiny, Battlefield, and Overwatch when I’m not writing for reviews or even writing to write – I’m playing team based games. The interaction and immersion required has helped me over the years find a way out from my depression, it has allowed me to keep my social interactions with my friends, but it has also kept that big elephant in the room from blowing up like a blimp. The games require team communication, social interaction, high amounts of concentration, and constant mental coordination.
On Battlefield this can include taking objectives while remembering where enemy jets, snipers, helicopters, tanks, or what have you, and being able to make the audible call out. This interaction, while minimally social, can also bring up key points of communication so that the person suffering from a depressive spell – isn’t thinking about it. Games such as Destiny? Require close to the same interaction based upon what a player is doing. If it’s a raid? Players will be communicating with five other fireteam members, making call outs, and even coordinating with their team so that they can have an assured victory. If PvP? Players must coordinate where they are going, what their objective is, where the opposing players are, and how they are going to go about eliminating them to secure their objectives.
When returning to Battlefield, it’s hard to say what portion of the game is going to help others as it does myself. For some, the idea of grabbing a helicopter, piloting around while having team mates shooting, deploying, and ultimately seizing capture points is a rather novel thing – one that offers up a sense of self-worth. It also can provide some ridiculous moments when a team full of combat ready players get their boots on the ground because of the pilot. Let alone does Battlefield offer up many forms of distraction, it offers up a vast beauty of a digital world around the player. One that can’t fully be explored via helicopter or lightening fast jets. Sometimes it requires the player to simply run around, taking in what sights they can in these ever-changing battlefields that they’ll ‘deploy’ onto. As things move on with the next installment; I’m sure I’ll move onto Battlefield 1 when the time comes to continue my coping mechanism.
With ever-changing elements in gaming, Battlefield has served a respective purpose in my life, one that has helped me cope for over 14 years as someone who fights bouts of manic depression. If Battlefield and Destiny can help me, what games have helped you, a loved one, a family member, or a friend of yours? Let us know in the comments.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.