They focus on things like how games might help increase a patient’s pain tolerance by distracting them from the pain Or the tried-and-true question of whether games increase physical coordination And all of these studies are great They have huge value, but they miss the thing about games that might impact the most people: that games make us feel okay And where this is being studied, most of the studies are around custom-made serious games for therapy Which again, is incredibly useful, and is something we should put more effort into, but it also shouldn’t keep us from studying games anyone can pick up off the shelf Because not everyone has the time or the money to go to best online casinos in Canada or a therapist who has custom-built games for what they’re struggling with And if a lot of people are turning to commercial games when they’re struggling, we really should understand how they affect us better.
We need to look into questions like what games actually leave us feeling more empowered, more satisfied, or just more safe After all, maybe it’s not the best idea to play a MOBA on a terrible day Heck, maybe it’s not the best idea to play any competitive game on a terrible day But it sure would be nice to know We need to ascertain what the exact positive effects we can get out of playing commercial games are And if gaming disorder is real, how do we make sure playing when we’re going through things… …doesn’t go from being a crutch to potentially leading us to gaming disorder Are there certain types of games that are universally better for our mental health… …or does it vary from player to player? Does it depend on what you grew up with or what you associate with good things? Is it all contingent on what you’re specifically going through? Are there times when losing yourself into a deep story-based RPG might be exactly what you need… …and other times were simply getting into the flow evoked by Guitar Hero or a shmup helps ground you better These are the sort of questions it would be great to have answered… …because so much of our community does turn to games when they feel like the rest of the world doesn’t understand them.
Or when it seems like there are things fundamentally not right with the outside world that they can’t immediately fix With that in mind, it’s important, even vital, that we look into any possible harm video games are doing And if we find they are really doing harm, do everything we can to minimize it But that’s not enough As one of the biggest applications in the world, games affect hundreds of millions, if not billions of people We need to look into how they can be used for good and how people are already using them to take care of themselves As designers, we need to know what good we can do so we can study and amplify it And as players, we need the tools to use our games to help ourselves heal in the best way we can Because for many of us, myself included, gaming is not a disorder… …but a very positive part of our lives that has helped see us through some of the most negative aspects of it See you next week, everyone Exposing your phone tablet and computer every time you log on to public Wi-Fi is not a good look And the thought of letting your campus or ISP log your private data is pretty terrifying.