There are times in life where video games have helped us in more ways than one. For some of us, it has helped us get through difficult times providing memories that last a lifetime. We here at Mammoth Gamers acknowledge that and a couple of our writers here have put together some stories that have given them health benefits of playing video games. For more health benefits while playing games check out this amazing article put together by our friends over at Postive Health Wellness.
I think the primary health benefit I have had from being a gamer is the social support structure it has helped me build. I used to be really, really bad at talking to people. I tended to over think everything, struggle to find talking points, and as a result of that I pretty much disliked socializing. About half way through high school I started to play more and more online games, getting involved with their communities, and eventually playing with people I knew from school. I started using party chat on Xbox Live with friends just for the sake of collaborating in multiplayer, but over time I found myself playing other games and just talking with friends over Live or PSN.
When I moved off to college I found that the new social setting did not feel all that different from jumping into a new online community, and I was way more outgoing than I thought I would be. Having the extra confidence and experience with meeting new people made making friends extremely easy in the new setting, and instead of holing up in my dorm like I was afraid I would, I found myself always out with friends and only used my dorm to sleep. Though everyone split off and are doing their own thing after graduation, I still keep in contact with a fair amount of my old friends, whether it be for a bit of online multiplayer here or there or weekly Dungeons and Dragons sessions over Curse. Getting into online gaming helped me get both the tools to make more friendships and to keep them over time and distance.
When people hear the word health they often think physical fitness but health goes far beyond that. Health can relate to mental wellness as well as emotional fitness. Health and well being are synonymous in my world and video games have helped me maintain that overall well being for many years.
I have played games at arcades and at friend’s houses since I was a small child but they really didn’t become a staple in my life until after I was 17. My husband and I bonded over video games and I swear he married me solely on my ability to play Ghosts and Goblins. But I digress, when I was pregnant with our first child I was put on strict bedrest at home. This meant I was only allowed out of bed to use the bathroom. Video games helped me maintain my sanity. Daytime TV is awful and you can only read so many books in a day before the world gets blurry. I was 20 years old and stuck in bed. Video games made it bearable. They gave me the variety I needed, offered me mental stimulation, and gave me something I could do with my husband that kept us social together.
Fast forward to 2002, we move from San Diego to Ohio. I went from working 50-60 hours a week and spending most of my free time outside to not working at all and being stuck in the house 4 months out of the year. Snow sports are NOT a thing in this part of Ohio. I needed to find a way to stave off the winter blues, cabin fever, and couch potato feelings. Thankfully, video games offered a solution. Dance Dance Revolution provided me the physical well being I required. I could really work up a sweat trying to keep up with the scrolling dance moves. After that it was the Wii and their fitness programs. Once the Kinect was released, there were all new ways to stay in shape and get moving.
Winter months are long and cold. Video games give me a way to escape into another world. Even if you do not suffer from depression, which I am prone to, the gloomy winter days can drag you down. Sure you can buy special light bulbs but video games are far more enjoyable plus, it was something we could do as a family. As a family we would have game days on a weekend, stay in our jammies, set up multiple TVs and consoles, then sit in the living room and play together. It was always fun and kept us in touch with our growing children. Games were a great way to keep my mental health stable. Daytime TV hadn’t improved in the 10 years since bedrest so I could grab a game and spend time solving riddles, or figuring out a new puzzle. This kept my mind sharp and helped me let go of negative feelings. Almost like a mediation without the ohm-ing and incense.
Now my older daughter is living in her own apartment in another city but took her loves of games with her. She will call me daily and 50% of the time it’s to discuss a game she’s playing (The other 50% is her hate of grocery shopping). My husband is currently living in Colorado while I am still in Ohio with our youngest two children. We have been apart since December 6th and even though we are planning to move myself, the 2 youngest, and any of the older 3 that want to go to Colorado sometime in the summer; it’s hard to predict if that will happen. I could end up here for another year. Video games have come into play yet again. The kids can play with, and talk to, daddy online. It gives him the chance to visit with his kids but have it be more than just a phone call or FaceTime. They look forward to game day with daddy. My husband and I will even hop on a game together, or at least in party chat if we are playing different games, so we can catch up and visit. It gives us a little normalcy in an otherwise bizarre situation. This contributes to our mental and emotional health. Without this ability to bond on a level above a phone call, I am not sure how we would maintain a relationship.
Video games are also giving me something to do alone. I don’t get to go out and socialize with other adults since I have the two little ones, so I turn to video games to provide me interaction with others. I have a close knit group of friends I game with and there really isn’t anything better than being able to play a game and talk to them. Yes, we really talk. We talk about the personal crap that’s going on and just the “here’s how my day was” stuff. It has helped relieve the crushing loneliness of being alone in Ohio and pretty much housebound aside from chores like grocery shopping. They give me an escape after a particularly long or terrible day. I can load up a game and enter a whole new world; a world that isn’t filled with bills that need paying, repairs that need done to the house, kids bickering, homework, house cleaning that needs done, or a queen bed that is half empty. I can set my problems aside and be someone else; thus allowing myself to let go of the stress, worry, and sadness that have become my almost daily companions.
Anyone that says that video games have no value to health has never really played one or obviously never talked to a gamer.
How have video games helped you mentally and physically? We’d love to hear your stories as well! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and for more, keep it locked to Mammoth Gamers!