Four Things I’ve Learned About Gaming

Many of us love it, some of us hate it, but we all know it’s something that’s not 100% good for us.

On a purple background, there is a white Playstation controller.
Photo by Igor Karimov 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

Gaming can be a divisive subject. Some believe that gaming is a waste of time, energy, and creativity. Others laud it as the thing that shifts the balance in their lives: what gives them confidence and excitement in their otherwise unfulfilling life.

So it’s no surprise that I’ve always had a fairly complex relationship with gaming.

When I was a kid, whether it was a combination of growing up as the oldest of five or coming up in the height of the “video games are bad for you” rhetoric, my time on the computer or game system was limited.

The message was this: if you have time to play video games, you have time for something deemed more “productive”.

And sure, there are tons of activities that are more productive in the traditional sense than living an entire second life on a simulated farm or building impenetrable dungeons filled with booby traps and armies of dastardly creatures.

But I don’t think video games deserve the rep they receive. At least, not entirely.

No surprises here, eh?

Video games are engaging in the purest sense. Your conception of time, space, and reality can shift in a couple of hours. And those couple of hours can turn into an entire day without much perceived effort.

This can be an advantage when you have equally all-consuming anxiety. It can be nice to play away the panic and worry, only to return to it once you feel calmer and more confident.

You read that right. Some research suggests that certain types of games can improve essential skills like problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking.

And I can’t be the only one who feels more inspired to create after playing a video game for a couple of hours, even if it’s specifically the inspiration to create more in-game.

More research is needed around this subject to build a more solid hill for us to die on. But enjoy your video games and any boost you feel they give you!

From my perspective, games offer escape — solace from the challenges of my everyday life. But I still need to take care of myself, take my meds, go to therapy, and exercise. By their nature, however, they can’t resolve your traumas or calm your anxieties completely.

You can’t start playing games and expect your problems to melt away. Most of them won’t get any better by avoiding them for hours at a time. And some might even get worse.

Has anyone ever experienced this? Where you accomplish something great in a game, like building a successful farm or completing a tough level, and you feel so accomplished that you don’t feel the need to do anything productive for the rest of the day?

In-game checkpoints can feel as wonderful to check off the list as our IRL goals. That’s why they’re dangerous.

If you want to achieve tangible things, then gaming might stop you from doing the work IRL to get there.

It’s like how research suggests the more people you tell about your goals, the less likely you are to complete them. But instead of not achieving the goal in real life and jumping the gun, you accomplish an intangible one in a game, and it kills your desire for something in your own life.

In small doses, video games can make me feel more creative, motivated, intelligent, and relaxed.

After a four-hour binge, it’s a whole other story.

But I suppose you could really say that about anything. Binging behaviours are often a warning sign of something deeper that needs your attention.

You are your most important resource, and you need to ensure you’re well taken care of to enjoy the benefits games can bring.

Besides, getting outside is always going to make you feel better, your mind clearer, and your heart healthier. So try to get outside daily, and don’t worry too much about your gaming habits. A lot of a good thing is great, but moderation is better.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Steph Raycroft

I like writing, reading, learning, and being outside. And I write about food, happiness, and improving my mental health. Interested?