Managing a community over the last 3 years, I have learned there is a lot more in common among it’s members outside of the passion for Nintendo. We’re all attending meets, Discord chats, and playing online together because yes, gaming is fun, and yes, gaming is an escape from the mundane; but it goes deeper than that.
1 in 4 of us have suffered from a mental health problem in our lifetime. A mental health problem can include, but is not limited to, Anxiety, Stress, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD - to name a few. So I look at my community and I figure that AT LEAST a quarter of them, statistically speaking, has had a private battle with mental health. But I know there could be so many more within the community than 25 percent. Yet we’re all here, gaming together, and we’re laughing, we’re problem-solving, and taking on big-ass boss battles together.
We’re not alone in our struggles, and sometimes talking about what’s going on in our lives can come much easier whilst we’ve got an ice-breaker of a video game. The conversation about our mental health doesn’t have to hurt, or be conducted in a formal setting if we don’t want it to be. #Timetotalk day is about discussing mental health in whatever way feels most natural and easiest for us; the important part is that we are having the conversation!
So, to get the ball rolling within our community, I wanted to tell you my 5 video games which helped me during my times of Anxiety, Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress a couple of years ago, and whilst you’re reading these, I would love for you to think about what your games are!
Animal Crossing New Leaf
Please withhold your faux-surprise, anyone who has played an AC game for more than 10 hours knows how cathartic and relaxing this series is. The pace of real-time life is slowed down. Yes, you’re in debt to a raccoon, but he’s the nicest loan shark you will ever meet. The villagers in your town provide ample distraction, and comic relief. For me though, the most ‘healing’ thing about Animal Crossing is the soundtrack. From the 8pm theme, to K.K Slider’s unplugged acoustics, the music is gently-paced and soothing. I had a friend at University who left her 3DS open in Brewster’s cafe, so she could fall asleep to it during the week of her deadline. ACNL: a proven stress-buster!
Chao Garden : Sonic Adventure 2: Battle.
It’s okay, you can laugh, but let me tell you something; when I was completely physically and mentally exhausted by the events happening in my life, I felt like I was screwing up all of my responsibilities...but I couldn’t screw up Chao Garden. All my little Chao children, toddling around (or flying), learning to draw and play music, their happy little chao faces when they won Chao race. I had proud parent moments. Chao Garden was a lovely 7pm past-time after a difficult day (rounded off with City Escape of course).
Originally, I wasn’t going to list this, given it has some similarities to why I listed Animal Crossing; the themes of building a new life for yourself, the vibrant personalities of your neighbours, the wholesome soundtrack… however, Stardew Valley also includes the mines, and most recently, the multiplayer update. I am really looking forward to sharing a farm with my other Nintendo Switch friends. For me, I engaged with Stardew Valley much better than I ever did Harvest Moon, but I tip my hat to the OG Farming sim.!
Only released towards the end of 2018, but this delightfully water-colour illustrated game resonated with me so deeply, it moved me to tears. There are no real verbal or written prompts, but the metaphors throughout the game just make this feel like such a healing process, as you solve puzzles, and guide the character to restore colour into her world. It’s a short game lasting around 3 hours, but I know I will be revisiting it over and over
CURVEBALL ALERT! Who knew a title from 2011 could actually help me with my wellbeing so much? I had never played an Elder Scrolls game before Skyrim came to Nintendo Switch, I felt like I had been missing out for SO LONG. My community members got involved in giving me advice, watching me goof up on live streams, and helping me make those all-important life decisions for my character like ‘Do I want a kitchen in the West Wing, or an Armory?’. Skyrim has given me, and those who have watched my haphazard gameplay and botched-up side quests, a lot of laughter and joy.
Please do share with me, and your communities, which video game(s) have helped see you through a bad day with your health? Do you find yourself playing a particular genre of game during these times?
Whatever works best for you, I sincerely wish you all the best, and I hope #timetotalk day opens up some positive and inspiring conversations with you on your journey with mental wellbeing.