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    Video Games & Mental Illness

    In the previous article we talked about Video Games Helping Understand PTSD, this article will focus on how games, whether that be tabletop games, video games, card games, mobile games, and the many other outlets, are helping those with mental illness better handle the effects. As of today, there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, with approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. who will experience a serious mental illness in a given year that interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Struggles for some can be poor interaction with people, fear of public speaking, quick to anger, and even depression all of which can leave some unable to move or go outside and interact. 

     

    Mental illness can also attribute to issues with school, work, and relationships. For example, someone who has bouts of depression may cause being unable to cope with the lows. This may then have them call out of work, unable to attend functions, or keep them from talking to friends or family. Other conditions can be affected by too many stimuli or unable to focus on any one particular task or subject. When asking KSI TACOS1 if he has ever had his job or KSI affected he claims, “My job, yes since I have ADHD I cannot stay focus and I love to talk which gets me into trouble and I end up procrastinating to not do the job.”

     

    Currently, mental health is handled with multiple forms of therapy including but not limited to placement of living, medication, talk therapy, and stimulation therapy. There are individuals who report that gaming helps them because they have to be calm and work through situations or allow them to be someone else like TACOS1, “Being on medication brings out forced feelings and emotions your brain is holding inside of you. Medication distract  your brain from the negativity that you hold through stress and depression. So when you play a game, this game makes you truly happy and be who you are whether or not your day has been bad. It’s all because you can be transported to another reality and be someone your not for 5 mins to help you cope with day to day struggles.” People handle their mental illness by just taking medication, speaking on a scheduled basis with a professional or a combination of both. Video games can also help alongside therapy, for example, KSI ICESPOT 7 already speaks to someone in life about everything going on while video games allow all the problems to go away, “They give me a place to have all of my problems melt away. Instead of having to talk about what's going on in my brain I can let it all go for a bit.” 

     

    Some games help the reward portion of the brain bringing happiness when completing a section, getting a perk, winning games, and even completing a game. Though video games may be shown to have positive effects because they offer a brief but repeated reward function to the brain which have shown in some studies possible issues. Recent studies have had issues with figuring out if the brain is changing due to the games or if there was an overreaction in reward centers causing excessive gaming, in some of those studies they claim that this can lead to addiction.  When talking to KSI members most respond that Video Games have not impacted in a negative way. When asked how does KSI affect KSI Icespot 7 he states, “KSI is one of the few things that gets me out of the bed in the morning.” 

     

    In 2018 the World Health Organization claims there is such thing as a Mental Disorder involving games. The generalized definition is “Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”  This is a highly debated issue in the gaming community whilst most disagree it is possible that video games can have a negative affect.

    As time goes with gamers no matter the platform or method it will be a wait and see how video games affect the human brain and health. For the time being studies are still young and processing results for a proper outcome. 


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