Video games help my mental health - Reader’s Feature
Overwatch – games can make you happy

A reader who suffers from Asperger syndrome reveals which video games help him feel better, and which don’t.
Mental health has popped up in a few letters and features lately and always in a very positive way.

I have spoken about my own metal health issues a few times. I have two issues, which are Asperger syndrome and being bipolar. Both can cause me huge day to day issues, but on the whole I manage them pretty well with medication and family support.

I was a gamer long before I had any kind of diagnosis. I only received that 12 or so years ago, but what this has done is answer some of the questions about why I do certain things and behave in certain ways while gaming.

Gaming is a very structured form of play and that is why I like it. Think about the early Space Invaders game. The aim of the game was to get the highest score possible. This is achieved by shooting an ever-advancing enemy and scoring points and not dying. Very simple. Now a Mario game. Get Mario from A to B before the time runs out. Very simple, again. These games have been boosted by adding more features but that very basic premise remains. Most gaming genres have this same basic premise.

What does this mean to me? It means that there are a set of rules. If I follow the rules I will succeed, don’t and I fail. Once I have succeeded my body releases some feel-good chemicals and life is good. Failing along the way is going to happen, I’m not that good, but as long as the rules weren’t broken I can live with that. It’s when the rules are broken that I can’t handle it. A difficulty spike, an overpowered boss, or just about anything that is not in keeping with the established rules.

That is why I struggle with games like the Dark Souls games. The difficulty spike on reaching a boss is just too much for me to take. I have tried many times to get past this but I cannot. I don’t feel that that the game has prepared me for the challenge and the rules have changed and I don’t know what they are anymore. There aren’t any feel-good chemicals being realised now, just a torrent of angry ones which stay long after the game has been switched off.

This is not unique to Dark Souls, but to another genre: the role-playing game. I enjoy a role-playing game to a point, the minute it gets all random I’m unable to play them as all the structure has gone. I don’t know where I am going, what I am supposed to next. I am lost. Big open worlds with a million different character options, hundreds of side missions, and thousands of potion and spell combinations blow me away. I normally just go through the main story and leave it at that.

My mental health is boosted by the feeling of success while playing. Completing missions and levels is where the buzz is at. This has led to my attitude while playing any kind of online game changing. I am not going to win many races. I will die a lot in shooters. Fact. So, I have made my own rules for these games. Don’t be last, race clean for racers. Don’t be last and be on the winning team for shooters. Very simple but they work for me in an area of gaming I would avoid otherwise. If I start looking at kill/death ratios, etc. that will just cause me too much angst.

I don’t communicate to others while I game online. I find it incredibly difficult to the point I don’t do it. it’s not that I don’t want to I just can’t do it. Which in turns means I don’t have many friends. So, I just roam about, a bit here and a bit there, never really finding a home.

But again, I have made my owns rules. I am a part of an incredible community which shares it thoughts and views through the written word, often hidden behind game names. This allows me to feel part of every and any game. I can read other opinions, which is the same as listening. Others read my opinions which is same as being heard. Oh, and no judgement.

Gaming will always play a big part in my life, along with sport, both of which rely heavily on rules and structure. This will bring me success and the release of the feel-good chemicals and bring an end to the dark times or keep the light shining brightly.

By reader Dirtystopout

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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