A Minor Point about Gaming and Depression

I don't have production things to write about this week and for that I apologize. I do have something games related but you'll have to bear with me a moment first.

In just two days it's my birthday, the big three-four. You know how #suicide is always #trending around Christmas? For me, my deepest, darkest sadzies always come around my birthday. It's a time to look at everything you are and compare it to everything you want to be and come up mostly wanting. You know those days and weeks and months leading up to your birthday where your hobbies include playing games you've already beat, listening to REM and looking in the mirror and saying, "What are you even doing?"

Earlier this calendar year, feeling totally on fire (and not in a good way) I decided to explore medication for my depression. I needed to not feel like everything was the end of the world, at least for a little while. Though I'd suspected that I could benefit from some sort of help for years, it took my therapist suggesting it for me to take the plunge. It helped me a bit.

But I'm still prone to fits of deep, aimless dissatisfaction with my life, still prone oversleeping, over eating, whatsthepointism and various other forms of "stinkin' thinkin'." Poisonous nostalgia, deep resentment, comparing my life to others. And here come games to...

Well, not to help necessarily, or hurt, or do much of anything. See, when you make games more than a hobby, like we have, they become part of your life in a weird, integral way When I'm depressed, I play the same old games over and over the same way I used to, and still, will marathon the Simpsons. Lately, it's been The Binding of Isaac, a game I have certifiably mastered. When I'm doing this, it doesn't necessarily cheer me up or anything. It just passes the time, puts me forward in life, closer to a reasonable time to go to sleep so I can just try again the next day.

Oh, and The Sims. The Sims is a great depression game because it lets you build a little room and make a living doing whatever you want instantly. The Sims gets criticized for it's materialistic tendancies but for me, it's more of a meritocracy simulator. You mean if I practice and try hard at this I'm guaranteed to be successful? Sign me up!

We've talked about the link between gaming and depression before, how it requires a specific kind of game that doesn't demand much. JRPGs are great for this because you just click in a semi engaged way and watch numbers go up. It borders on entirely passive and passivity correlates to my depression in a big, bad way.

I'm not writing this to fish for sympathy. I guess I'm just sick of people associating binge gaming with depression. Yes, I do tend to binge when I'm depressed, but I could just as easily be rewatching Arrested Development or The Critic or I could be re-reading The Belgariad or I could be browsing the internet aimlessly or looking at old Dragon Magazines. All of these tasks are things I do instead of listening to my old band and crying. They're good things and gaming isn't singularly depressing. Sometimes passive media is the only thing you have strength for.

I'm also rolling the idea around in my head that my life path has made games something that doesn't explicitly cheer me up. I fucking love video games. But they're not a way to unwind or have some fun, necessarily. A lot of the time, they're an assigment or an obligation. I'm not complaining about that, I love what we do on the network, but part of the reason I'm writing this here is that I think you guys will understand. If I tell some rando that I'm depressed and spent a bunch of time playing video games, they'll either assume I'm depressed because I spent my time doing that or think it's silly that I was doing something ostensibly fun and still felt like garbage.

You guys...you guys get me.