Author Topic: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health  (Read 719 times)

Bebop

  • Posts: 4058
A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« on: October 25, 2019, 12:09:20 AM »
Hi all.  A friend of my partner and a member of our LARP group killed himself this past week.  It was a very devastating moment for my significant other.  Leading up to his suicide, he posted on Facebook that gaming had become his life.  I'm not sure what game he was playing but as I read his final post, for a moment, my heart dropped because it might have been Armageddon.  It wasn't, but I think we all understand that painful feeling perma-death can bring.

His character was stolen from and the short of it is that months of work was effectively undone.  This translated into dozens (maybe hundreds) of his real life hours being lost seemingly for no reason.  He was devastated and then spiraled, realizing that he was gaming to fill a void he felt in his real life, which to him, felt pointless.  Shortly after posting this confession on Facebook, he ended his life.

I've been thinking about this a lot since I found out yesterday.  I myself have definitely used Arm for escapism. I actually returned to Arm in part to return to something familiar and help give my brain something to focus on after the Winter months after my dad died and my anxiety was the worst.  At the end of the day, we're all human beings on here with our real life ups and down.  I have been a part of this community since 2004 and I'm proud to call many of you friends, both the ones I've met and have not.  A lot of you have been here for me through those ups and downs too --- and I really appreciate you.

If you're ever feeling suicidal, please reach out to someone near and/or call a suicide hotline.  Even if you feel you've already made up your mind, consider that our brains aren't always trustworthy, and speak to someone for a little while just in case.  The friend I mentioned had a moment of rage after his character's things were lost, where he broke a TV and then had a complete crash/break down.  I just want to remind you all --- we are the accumulation of bacteria and chemicals, and our emotions can definitely sway and deceive us!  Keep that in the back of your mind.  Give yourself time to talk it out with someone.  Maybe you can't have hope for the future, but perhaps curiosity might do.

If you are ever struggling with losing a character, it's okay to vent to your staff or something like that.  Ponder your next concept.  I've had good luck with the staff getting copies of IG journals or working with them to do something in game to give a little closure.

At fifteen years old, I myself, made a suicide attempt.  My life is far from perfect but I'm glad I'm still here to know you all.  If you think you may have video game addiction I encourage you to read articles about the subject.  There are many out there as video game addiction was made an official ailment this May.  We are still just beginning to understand how technology interaction is effecting us all.  Many studies show it can lead to unhappiness, impulsive behaviors, feelings of loneliness and short attention span. 

Even if you aren't suicidal, if you feel gaming is having a negative impact on your behaviors, relationships, health or feelings this is also a gentle reminder that it's okay to take breaks, even long ones.  A place will be waiting for you if you want to return.  If you're worried you're neglecting tasks do those first throughout your day, use gaming/Armageddon as a reward once the other things you need to do are complete.  If you feel you can not play casually and still have a healthy life I encourage to choose your real life.  Find the things that make you happy in life and do those (all within healthy doses.)

Here is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

1-800-273-8255


We are all a community here, and if anything happened to any of you I would miss you!  Even those that grate on me.  Despite us being an online group, at the end of the day we are all people, and you all mean something to me!  I wish you all the best. 

Lizzie

  • Posts: 8056
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2019, 08:50:28 AM »
I agree that gaming can take up a void in your life. Suicide is not the result of gaming though, I feel this is important to stress. Most of us already know that but conspiracy theories abound.

If your life is empty and you use gaming to fill the void - then there's nothing stopping you from finding something else to fill it, if your gaming experience disappoints you. Empty means = you haven't yet put something meaningful into it. Meaningfulness won't come to you. You have to create it.

If you're disabled, not capable of going anywhere, there are a myriad of things you can do on the computer besides gaming. A friend of mine has ALS; he considers himself a "brain in a jar." He is one of the most outstanding computer artists I've ever met, and he does all his artwork using a digital interactive camera/eye connected to his face, which allows him full (but excrutiatingly slow) access to his computer. He has 24/7 care in his home and can't talk, eat, drink, poop, turn over, breathe - without artificial assistance from machines or human helpers.

So maybe you're not an artist. But imagine whatever it is you do best - discovering that the method you use to do it - is suddenly removed from you. Do you give up? Or do you find - and maybe even create - new methods to do it? Or do you learn how to be best at something else instead?

Each of us is a fertile collection of abilities. Depression and suicidal thoughts are fear's way of suppressing those abilities. Even - disability - as a category - is the body's way of obscuring abilities. It is a distraction. Pushing through is hard. But somewhere within you - are all those abilities, locked up and waiting for you to find them and use them and embrace them.

Get help if you feel alone. You're never really alone, even when you feel isolated. There are ways to connect you back to your own humanity, but sometimes you just need someone to guide you back.
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tiny rainbow

  • Posts: 61
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2019, 06:21:11 PM »
I feel like even before it gets to the level of suicide a lot about this game can be really stressful at times and there's been so much linked lately to stress/anxiety being actually bad for your brain and overall well-being that it makes me in turn worry about the game, but I also think that it makes so many good stories worth reading that make it worthwhile so I am reluctant to write it off as a guilty pleasure at the same time.

I have sometimes avoided logging in because not really feeling up to facing the intense horror and conflicts when there's already a lot of starvation, war and death going on in the real world to try make get better instead of worse... But at the same time, I appreciate that it's there, and it's like a metaphor and the stories can help shine a light on situations from another angle, in the same way as the whole cliché about learning from history, the tragedies are sometimes beautiful in their own way too, the good and the bad, the people.

I noticed that in RP on other games not many people play antagonist characters because of people being hostile to it OOCly, so I really appreciate that the divide here makes a more rounded/realistic variety of characters more common it seems like.

If you haven't played as long or aren't from America it doesn't feel like there's really that kind of community feeling but at the same time I'm not sure if I want that either, because most of the things that make me feel most uncomfortable are usually because of OOC angles on stuff like worrying if a character is acting more hostile after disagreeing with them on the forum about something (I was thinking maybe for clan forums it could be nice to have an option to collaborate on the things that aren't rolecalls without needing to link the character name with discussions, to remove that whole potential) or having a feeling like you don't really have much self-agency in RP when NPC actions are used to drive you towards a character you feel like is likely a staff's personal character (and I think the game benefits from experienced people's knowledge of the story but it might be better to have more NPC characters around and active instead, if that is a thing that might be adopted voluntarily, I'm not sure if it's really realised just how stressful that kind of line blurriness can be for people on the other end of it all), basically I just kind of wish that it could all be in a vacuum without these aspects existing though I guess in a way there's also some bitter-sweet tragedies here too, that social scientists or historians looking through https://web.archive.org/ will probably enjoy some time.

Maybe if we could all just try think a bit carefully about how some stuff can make the other players at the end of it feel more? I figure not many people really go and set out to upset people and we're all collaborating on a story, I try to think of it like that, we're all just humans bumbling trying to do the thing we think is right maybe.

I was thinking that a lot of people who've been playing longer probably have got more used to it and have much better ideas, I'm definitely interested in reading replies here, I have become really fond of some of the stories that get made here, I don't really want to not think of it as something that's probably not good for people, I've seen too much good from so many people, even when it's stressful <3

Harmless

  • Posts: 2813
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2019, 07:21:45 PM »
Gaming has been shown to increase stress and cortisol levels which should surprise no one here that this may lead to depression.

Stress levels, i.e. levels of stress hormones are also linked to increase in rates of learning and intellectual capacity.

I personally feel that Armageddon has enriched my life and has helped me to overcome social anxiety through confronting it in game simulation. Sure I get stressed by the game but I also learn from it. I have learned through discussing it with friends and staff and by proxy via my characters how to deal with it.

I think my current level of RL performance reflects that I am currently healthy, functional. I won't go into specifics but I earn six figures and I am stably employed x 12 years. I also have a healthy relationship with my partner of 8 years.

There are times I wonder why I play arm and at those times I usually come to the realization I don't need or want it now and I take a break, usually about a year.

I would like to think that arm has helped me and that by limiting my playtime (i usually try and log out as soon as I hit those 'dead times') among other tricks I have picked up over the years it has actually only slowly gotten better.

Others here are absolutely right. Stress management matters. Call for help if needed. Quit when needed. There is a good and bad to any activity. It helps me but it may not help you.

Good thread and thank you Bebop for starting it
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Nile

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Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2019, 08:01:45 PM »
I've had some addiction/mental health issues the last year and some players, mainly staff tbh, were on the receiving end of a pathetic meltdown over petty deaths etc.

That said, I'd argue Armageddon can have positive impacts on wellbeing. Escapism at its peak, and escapism is something we all need. But yeah it can certainly exacerbate existing problems at times.

Be careful everyone. And if I feel suicidal I just think 'should I kill myself or have another go at armageddon?'
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Veselka

  • Posts: 1111
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2019, 09:30:05 PM »
So sorry to hear about your friend, Bebop.

I'm going through a very difficult time in my life, where my mother has been diagnosed with late stage cancer completely out of the blue. Luckily, even though I haven't played in the last couple of weeks, I feel Armageddon and its community are there for me both as a means of escape and a means of social connection. To me, Armageddon is more than just a video game (cue the Brian Jones background music). I've met some of my best lifelong friends through it, because it takes a particular kind of nerd to get this game, and those particular nerds just seem to get me and where I'm coming from.

I truly feel for people who are suicidal or depressed and use Armageddon (or other video games) as a means to escape their life, if only briefly. I can imagine the pain of permanent death in this game is challenging for some -- It's a sting that I've gotten over a long time ago, perhaps through my own explorations into spirituality and particularly Buddhism. I view most deaths, even the most sudden, irresponsible, 'I'm blaming you for something someone else actually did' deaths as a sort of release. It can be frustrating in the moment, but I have so many more stories to tell. If anything I view it as a sort of practice for my own death, or the death of loved ones. There's a strange premonitory sort of feeling I have sometimes where I can almost anticipate some of my PCs friends are going to die soon. Then you have that day where you log in to find out 'Soandso Died, they were put to death in the Arena, or they died hunting, or they died falling off a cliff'. And you have this deja vu sort of catharsis, where you know you subconsciously already prepared for it, and now you can experience it. I can't tell you how helpful the Mantis Head has been for me to getting my head straight, reprioritizing. It's the closest thing I think I have felt to actually dying. The build up, the fear, wanting to flee, you can't, you are dying, you are bleeding out. You are dead. Time to disconnect.

I really appreciate the sentiment of the post. There is an underlying voice in the back of my mind (and I think others' minds) of 'Should I be playing Armageddon? Is it taking up too much of my time? What about my real friends?' I think those are good moments to take a step back and ponder some things, and try and seek a balance between escapist release and engaging with the real world. Those moments where you are sitting at the keyboard shaking in anger over something that happened to your PC -- Those are good moments to assess if you are too deeply attached and entrenched in the game world. You can always take a break, no matter what PCs are pressuring your PCs to do, or what they expect of you. Take a walk. Go to the park. Read a book you've never read, or re-read a book you find comfortable. Watch a great movie, hang out with your significant other, or try and find one if you are without.

I find this game is at its best when I'm at my best. But it can also be a rock in the storm when I'm at my worst. I just have to check in with myself and figure out why I'm playing the game. To have fun? To escape? To blow off some steam and chop up Gith with bone swords? The reasons vary as I vary myself. But it's good to know why or at least try to figure that out.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 09:35:08 PM by Veselka »
Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.

--Immanuel Kant

najdorf

  • Posts: 433
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2019, 05:13:16 AM »
  It wasn't, but I think we all understand that painful feeling perma-death can bring.

Are you referring to real life or in game permadeath here?

Hauwke

  • Posts: 1973
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2019, 05:17:03 AM »
  It wasn't, but I think we all understand that painful feeling perma-death can bring.

Are you referring to real life or in game permadeath here?

I get pretty bummed out when I die IRL, takes me a few weeks to put myself back together emotionally.

najdorf

  • Posts: 433
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2019, 05:25:00 AM »
I just wanted to highlight the real message OP was trying to give, hidden in a dramatic post.

valeria

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Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2019, 10:28:46 AM »
I don't think anyone commits suicide because of gaming, and I don't think that's what Bebop said.  But if you have a tendency to depression, any heavy loss can cause you to spiral.  Loss of a friend or family member, loss of a job, loss of a character you've invested hundreds of hours into, loss of possessions you really valued and don't think you can replace.

Even if you aren't suicidal, if you feel gaming is having a negative impact on your behaviors, relationships, health or feelings this is also a gentle reminder that it's okay to take breaks, even long ones.  A place will be waiting for you if you want to return.  If you're worried you're neglecting tasks do those first throughout your day, use gaming/Armageddon as a reward once the other things you need to do are complete.  If you feel you can not play casually and still have a healthy life I encourage to choose your real life.  Find the things that make you happy in life and do those (all within healthy doses.)

I think it's important to emphasize this.  If you're using anything to avoid your real life needs (food, sleep, social, income), and those obligations are starting to suffer, I would encourage you to take a week off.  If you feel that you absolutely can't, that's an even better reason to take a week off and get some perspective.

And if you are ever depressed and can't reach out, just try to get through the minutes.  Every minute is one minute, which can feel much more doable than the rest of your life.  And then the next minute, and the next minute.  It will get better eventually, and then don't trick yourself into thinking it won't happen again because now you're feeling better.  Go talk to a trained professional.
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Barsook

  • Posts: 8012
    • The Sense of Openness
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2019, 07:56:59 AM »
Thanks for the PSA, Bepop, and discussion that is following it.

Mental health is a fragile thing and I think it's something that we sometimes don't understand how fragile it is. I had a rough time last week with very extreme levels of anger and the last one happened about the time when this post was written. And it really hurt me mentally.  What triggered it to some degree was technology interaction. I'm not a gamer as some of you guys, as I only play ArmMUD, tabletop RPGs, and a puzzle game called Panel Attack, which is a clone of Tetris Attack for the SNES. But I used to play way more games, mostly MMOs, almost 20 years ago. I remember video games angering me when I wasn't able to complete a level. Nowadays, I just watch Twich. Sometimes when there is a speedrunning marathon and that draws me in where I forget to do things.

Just as Veselka stated in their post, I started to explore spirituality and Buddhism in the early 2010's. But never really the deep parts of Buddhism. So the whole death part hasn't really affected me, yet. What I learned from spirituality is mindfulness from doing the sitting down style to other forms of mindfulness mediation.

Even if you aren't suicidal, if you feel gaming is having a negative impact on your behaviors, relationships, health or feelings this is also a gentle reminder that it's okay to take breaks, even long ones.  A place will be waiting for you if you want to return.  If you're worried you're neglecting tasks do those first throughout your day, use gaming/Armageddon as a reward once the other things you need to do are complete.  If you feel you can not play casually and still have a healthy life I encourage to choose your real life.  Find the things that make you happy in life and do those (all within healthy doses.)

I think it's important to emphasize this.  If you're using anything to avoid your real life needs (food, sleep, social, income), and those obligations are starting to suffer, I would encourage you to take a week off.  If you feel that you absolutely can't, that's an even better reason to take a week off and get some perspective.

I agree. I'm doing as it as I write this post.

My final thing that I want to pass on is please don't be afraid to go to speak to a trained professional.  They have more insight than you trying to "find" yourself.

Saiseiki

  • Posts: 65
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2019, 12:56:38 AM »
Thanks for giving this issue increased visibility.

Thomoto

  • Posts: 124
Re: A PSA about Gaming and Mental Health
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2019, 02:22:28 PM »
So sorry to hear about your friend, Bebop.

I'm going through a very difficult time in my life, where my mother has been diagnosed with late stage cancer completely out of the blue. Luckily, even though I haven't played in the last couple of weeks, I feel Armageddon and its community are there for me both as a means of escape and a means of social connection. To me, Armageddon is more than just a video game (cue the Brian Jones background music). I've met some of my best lifelong friends through it, because it takes a particular kind of nerd to get this game, and those particular nerds just seem to get me and where I'm coming from.

I truly feel for people who are suicidal or depressed and use Armageddon (or other video games) as a means to escape their life, if only briefly. I can imagine the pain of permanent death in this game is challenging for some -- It's a sting that I've gotten over a long time ago, perhaps through my own explorations into spirituality and particularly Buddhism. I view most deaths, even the most sudden, irresponsible, 'I'm blaming you for something someone else actually did' deaths as a sort of release. It can be frustrating in the moment, but I have so many more stories to tell. If anything I view it as a sort of practice for my own death, or the death of loved ones. There's a strange premonitory sort of feeling I have sometimes where I can almost anticipate some of my PCs friends are going to die soon. Then you have that day where you log in to find out 'Soandso Died, they were put to death in the Arena, or they died hunting, or they died falling off a cliff'. And you have this deja vu sort of catharsis, where you know you subconsciously already prepared for it, and now you can experience it. I can't tell you how helpful the Mantis Head has been for me to getting my head straight, reprioritizing. It's the closest thing I think I have felt to actually dying. The build up, the fear, wanting to flee, you can't, you are dying, you are bleeding out. You are dead. Time to disconnect.

I really appreciate the sentiment of the post. There is an underlying voice in the back of my mind (and I think others' minds) of 'Should I be playing Armageddon? Is it taking up too much of my time? What about my real friends?' I think those are good moments to take a step back and ponder some things, and try and seek a balance between escapist release and engaging with the real world. Those moments where you are sitting at the keyboard shaking in anger over something that happened to your PC -- Those are good moments to assess if you are too deeply attached and entrenched in the game world. You can always take a break, no matter what PCs are pressuring your PCs to do, or what they expect of you. Take a walk. Go to the park. Read a book you've never read, or re-read a book you find comfortable. Watch a great movie, hang out with your significant other, or try and find one if you are without.

I find this game is at its best when I'm at my best. But it can also be a rock in the storm when I'm at my worst. I just have to check in with myself and figure out why I'm playing the game. To have fun? To escape? To blow off some steam and chop up Gith with bone swords? The reasons vary as I vary myself. But it's good to know why or at least try to figure that out.

My regards as well. People do die, both ig and IRL, thats a hard truth we all have to face. Now when someone says that what makes armageddo unique is how your characters and the ones around you are living and breathing. It can be fun and stress reliving as well as something to focus on but it can be extremely hard. The worry when you have to leave because of IRL stuff and you miss out on a lot and when you come back its empty, or if your character dies. Its sad to lose hours of time put in.
I can personally relate as I have to deal with a lot ooc even as a 9th grader, but irl always comes first and thats the truth, even when your caught up in killing gith or sorcerer hunting. But when you have to disconnect you do, reconnect when your ready, and please talk to someone if your feeling downsome as I lost a few family to suicide.
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