Recently for one of my college papers I had to do research into the way exposure to the arts can be psychologically beneficial and even therapeutic. I spent a lot of time reading about how being a part of an artistic experience can enhance your state of mind, level your capacities and even sharpen your brain power. While my research never crossed paths with the medium of video games, I consider them to be a powerful art form and it really got me thinking about what our exposure to video games can do to our mental being.
I’m not talking about things like reflexes, problem solving skills, or even aggression, what got me thinking was how video games can be a cathartic experience. Certainly not all games are going to be good for the soul, but I find that there certainly is something to be said for finding relief in the digital world. This especially rings true for me in my life. Like a lot of nerds, I don’t exactly have the strongest social skill set or the mightiest confidence. Even more-so I struggle with issues of anxiety that can sometimes be really difficult for me to overcome. One thing that has always been sort of a crutch for me has been video games, not just playing them, but being an enthusiast in all things games.
Falling in love with character design from artists like Tetsuya Nomura or Akira Toriyama is what got me hooked into drawing and creating art myself. This love of art and design drove me to better myself at what I do, and in turn that gave me a serious confidence boost and something that I can always look at to be proud of. In fact, it’s brought me to the job that I have today as a production artist.
Video games (and the surrounding culture) have always been a good way to unwind, or deflate my stress levels as well. In fact just the other day when I was having a rough time at work I slipped my earbuds in and fired up the soundtrack to The Sims. The jazzy piano and brass tunes helped trigger happy memories of building houses and relationships in the life simulation game that I lost so many hours to a decade ago, and in doing so I was able to calm my nerves and break free of the anxiety that had me in it’s grip.
A lot of people read a book to relax at the end of the day, or go to the movies to have a sense of escapism. Video games are certainly my preferred way to either wind down or to pick myself up. I don’t think I’m alone either, the audience is broad and diverse for video games. We’re not all just adrenaline junkies looking to blow up robots and zombies. Some of us are looking to connect with others, or with ourselves through powerful experiences that we can’t get anywhere else. Some of us are looking to have our minds expanded with interactive art that touches a part of us that nothing else can.
With as engrossing an experience as playing a video game is, it’s not such a surprise that it is so effective at altering our moods. Games can make us happy, amped up, emotional and even scared. It’s really the perfect medium for helping check your mood, whatever it may be. So the next time you’re having a rough day, take the time to boot up your favorite game, allow yourself a little game-therapy, and watch your mood diamond go from red to green.
What’s your favorite kind of game-therapy? Let us know what game puts you back in the green in the comments section below.
This week’s speed painting is of Tiesel Bonne from the Mega Man Legends series. Who would you like to see me sketch up next? Make sure you make yourself heard in our comments section!