When the quarantine hit earlier this year there seemed to be a mass depression. Everyone around me was complaining that they were cooped up inside for too long. In the news many couples were divorcing one another and kids were going stir crazy with nothing to do. It felt like a dark cloud covering all of us. For those of us who play video games this was a golden opportunity to sit back, relax and dive into that massive backlog of games that has just been sitting there, or so it would seem.
As one of those players, I initially embraced the idea of time off since it was a great opportunity for me to play and keep up with my writing. Sadly this didn’t work out for me the way I had anticipated. Things got really dark and instead of keeping focused on my goals, I got lost in my thoughts and became depressed. I had been alone for days and weeks at a time, with no one reaching out. I tried to keep my friendships going but for whatever reason the conversations never continued passed a few texts. Everyone seemed to only care about themselves or were too busy to stay in contact. For a while it felt like I had fallen off the face of the earth.
This put me in a downward spiral. I was beginning to feel worthless and abandoned even though I had family around who cared for me. Thankfully, I noticed what has happening to me and I knew I had to do something about it. I began reading some self help books, and I started to get motivated and began moving forward with my life. I continued to speak to my therapist just to have that additional outlet if things got rough. I began to use gaming and writing as a means to keep myself occupied and found myself getting stronger. I began to cut all ties to my past and finally let go of all the old relationships and things that were not positive for me. With all the quiet time, I began to reflect on myself and put to rest all of the things that were bothering me mentally. My biggest mental issue I was dealing with was my past failed relationships. It seemed whenever I had too much time alone my thoughts rush back my past and my brain automatically cycled through different memories which are all useless and dead. This always disturbed me and many times caused me to have insomnia. I began to use this time as an opportunity to put to rest a lot of resentment, anger, and overall disappointment I had been dealing with for a long time.
It took many days but thankfully I was able to let everything go and I realized I was free of my past. Now I am in a more positive mental space free from the stresses of my past and feeling much happier. While things are still far from perfect, they are much better. I have been able to take my time playing my Steam backlog (and actually enjoy them), beat a bunch of PS4 exclusives, write about new things, and re-establish real friendships, and I actually learned how to be comfortable being alone.
However, gaming in this kind of situation of being isolated for long periods of time can be concerning for many gamers. In some cases it can lead to an emotional dependency on video games due to the stress of the circumstances. I have suffered through this before when I was younger and it took years to figure out how to escape from the mental prison I fell into. While games can be a great distraction from reality, they can also serve to do harm in the sense that (if allowed) they can become priority and real life responsibilities begin to fall by the wayside. This is dangerous. Depending on its severity, you can get lost and begin to ignore your basic health necessities like eating properly, neglecting household responsibilities like laundry or chores, sleeping at a decent hour, lose motivation for doing physical or outdoor activities, and (in extremely rare cases) can even die from blood clots in the body from extremely long gaming sessions.
These results from gaming too heavily vary from each person and many will never have blood clots because most people usually get up and move every few hours or so to eat or take a break of some kind. For those players who find themselves experiencing some of these things try your hardest to slow things down and turn off the consoles and PC’s for a bit. If you find yourself unable to be away from your latest game for a short while, you are probably addicted and feel emotionally attached to the game. I figured out I was addicted years ago when I disconnected my Xbox 360 console for a few hours and found myself anxious to get back to it. At first everything seemed fine but a few hours later I needed to plug it back in, and when I picked up a controller emotionally I calmed down and had a sigh of relief, as if I couldn’t breath without it. This is a terrible place to be in and it is so difficult to recognize and accept that it is a problem.
If you notice anything like the previously mentioned symptoms are happening to you, try to slow things down a bit. Recognize that there is a way to calmly and properly move forward and still keep gaming in your life, just in a healthier way that doesn’t dominate your life. Perhaps try changing up your normal gaming routine and pick up a new book that interests you. Or perhaps shorten down your amount of time per session and have 1 to 2 hour sessions instead of 4 to 6 hour sessions if that is more your style. Another good way to try to switch up the routine is to get into different games, perhaps VR games. Beat Saber in particular, is an awesome game that will challenge your reflexes and pull you off the couch and get your body moving in an engaging way.
Most importantly try to make some time for yourself to reflect on what is truly the source of any immobility you are feeling. Only in complete silence can you actually focus on your inner thoughts and reflect on what is bothering you in the first place, and then allow yourself to put that disturbance to rest. As well do not be afraid to seek mental help if you think you may need it. There is nothing wrong with getting yourself checked out or talking to a counselor or therapist for some guidance. I understand all of this is easier said than done and for some people this may just sound like nonsense. For those of you who are experiencing what I went through with any of this you will understand exactly what I mean.
Gaming while being in isolation has both its positive and negative sides. On one hand, it can be great to cut back and enjoy some awesome single player games, beat your personal best high scores, or perfect your multiplayer skills in Call Of Duty Warzone. On the other hand, it can turn into a downward spiral and lead to depression if we get lost in it for too long neglecting our responsibilities. Honestly moderation is key to a healthy and balanced gaming life. Due to the quarantine, it’s been tough trying get back to living life normally. Slowly but surely things are getting better and now is the time to start getting back into reality and doing something meaningful with our lives. For me its time to start pushing myself forward and into a new life where I am happy writing and working with games, helping others find their gaming balance, and starting my own family. I have also wanted to start streaming my games for a while but I’ve never challenged myself to see it through, and perhaps this might be time to do so.
For each of you who read this far, thank you very much for making it down to the end of this post. I had been working on this one for a while because I’ve been through a lot of mental challenges during the quarantine, and it was difficult to simplify the constant changes I was dealing with. However, I can only imagine many others experienced something similar so I wrote this for them. I hope this has been informative and beneficial to someone who reads this and I hope you all continue to stay mentally strong and healthy through these uncertain times. If any of you have any questions about any of my articles please write them in the comments and I’ll do my best to get back to you. I hope you all have a great day.