237: Getting Back in the Game

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Getting Back in the Game

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when it's the unexpected dissolution of a ten year relationship. Gaming doesn't fill the hole left behind, but concentrating on a pixelated hero helps keep the negative emotions from being the focus of one's life. Logan Westbrook recalls how gaming helped him cope.

Read Full Article

I am glad to see you write this, I hope it somehow helped you deal with your loss.

While it may not be on such a level as yours, I use gaming to cope with not particularly fun aspects of life...
I know how it can feel, but definitely not a level like that, I certainly do feel for you

On a lighter note, games are quite an escape, no?
And people think there only used for evil...
(Thats only right most of the time...)

Now my breakup was no where near the level of yours, however I had no consoles nearby (none in my uni accommodation) so instead I found playing "Like a rolling stone" by Bob Dylan at hight volumes an adequate "cure".

Something about the line "How does it feel..."

I find the most common problem with the human mind is its uncanny ability to focus almost exclusively on the negatives, and it's then that hobbies really take the center stage. It's why people coping with loss are advised to keep busy, as opposed to any sort of thinking or dwelling.

I really do think that games aren't really awarded enough for the little things they accomplish. Media's often too-happy to point gaming's subtle effects on violent behavior, but rarely do they want to talk about the positives. Articles like these are heart-warming (although its somewhat saddening that such a story has to come from such unfortunate circumstances), and remind me that there's good both in media as a whole, and from the writers that make up the industry.

messy:
Now my breakup was no where near the level of yours, however I had no consoles nearby (none in my uni accommodation) so instead I found playing "Like a rolling stone" by Bob Dylan at high volumes an adequate "cure".

Something about the line "How does it feel..."

I did this after a bad breakup. All in one summer pretty much.

I find that whole thing interesting, because I was a casual gamer my whole life until my dad died. After that I got into it a lot more, and somehow during the proccess I fell in love with video games.

I suppose it makes a lot of sense for me, in context. I've been a gamer as long as I can remember, but it had never been a big part of my life. My dad taught me how to play Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genisis when I was a kid, and we played racing games and snowboard games when I was a tad older. I already ownend a Genisis, PS2, DS, and Wii at the time. Not that I played the Genisis anymore, but...
Anyway, I think it was the Christmas after that I was in the mall with my mum and I bought Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. I got Twilight Princess for Christmas as well. A few months later I bought an Xbox 360. I'm proud to say I never looked back. :)

I think gaming really is as Logan Westbrook said; a deviation from the situation. A way to keep your mind occupied. For me it became something to care about. And without a doubt it's better for you than movies or TV, as great as they may be. Gaming you actually have to focus on, and you feel a lot more of it. When you watch a movie, the simplest thing can remind you what you're trying to forget. You can let your mind wander and become more depressed. With gaming you feel what the developers want you to feel - if they're good at it. It's the benefit of interactive media. You feel frustration fighting through a level, you feel joy finishing it. You feel satisfaction, you feel disapointment. It's a great thing.

Just like LorChan, my dad died last year, and since then, my brother and I have become the most lethal modern warfare soldiers, the most powerful pair of Paladins in azeroth, and trophy hoarders to a ludicrous extent.

Its something to fill the time, and concentrate on. Now though I am moving on to more productive things, like learning the piano and guitar, becoming a regular writer for a certain creative website and going to the gym more often.

While I did like this article at the start, it felt like it went nowhere. I get the point being that video games help you cope, keep your mind focused on something else until the pain can gradually recede on its own, but it felt as if a greater point was left out. The beginning was great, but then it's basically "played this game, then this game, then this one".

Good start, and I enjoyed it conceptually, but I was expecting a little more...substantial conclusion? I dunno.

(Gee, and after the editor's note, here I am criticizing someone else's work. Well, at least I try writing this sort of stuff myself instead of offering nothing but criticism).

I can't say I understand about the break up or losing a job but my deep dive back into gaming came from the loss of a chunk of my family it may not fix the problems but they deffinetly can help to make things move a little easier, if for anything just to make us forget that this stuff has happened to us and I guess for some to let us pretend that we are someone else.

What a really heartfelt article. I agree with you completely: as much as people can claim games are a waste of time, sometimes that is just what people need to settle their mind and get back on their feet.

It's nothing compared to what you went through, but when I moved to another country away from my family I emmersed myself in games while my mind got used to the situation.

wilsonscrazybed:

messy:
Now my breakup was no where near the level of yours, however I had no consoles nearby (none in my uni accommodation) so instead I found playing "Like a rolling stone" by Bob Dylan at high volumes an adequate "cure".

Something about the line "How does it feel..."

I did this after a bad breakup. All in one summer pretty much.

We can safely assured now you don't do things half heartedly.

Also I when I was dumped I found all the various uni parties/going out were a good distraction

When I got rejected for the xth time, I needed something to be angry at and to keep my mind busy - I launched Unreal Tournament 2004 with the Ballistic weapons mod. Then, God mode and unlimited ammo. Many confused bots were blown to shit that day. Games really help to keep your mind away, more than a movie or a book.

huh... good stuff, I like this article a lot

Gaming the most healthy anti-depressant ever.

Heh, I remember main-lining City of Heroes and drinking straight whiskey for a week and a half after my last bad break-up, which was 2 weeks before my birthday. I feel your pain bro. I really do.

Whilst I know nothing of break-ups or job loses, I do understand how games can help out when things seem too much, mainly from the emotion side of things.. I'm glad you wrote this piece.

I read a study, and now for the life of me I can't remember much, but it talked about the usefulness of doing brain-catching things for maintaining emotional levelness. As a gamer (and generally a very calm person) I immediately applied the concept to games. They force one to live in the moment, not regretting the past, not fearing the future.

Quite a brave article. It can be hard to cop to the need for escapism in our lives. The chance to play a hero when you feel like a douche. I guess games are one of the few places in our lives where we have a chance to make the outside story commensurate with the inside one.

I think this is the first thing I've read that has truly convinced me that the much-talked-about idea of "escapism" is a good thing. Simple but clear, Logan. Thank you.

My experience with games as a distraction has been more negative. I know I'm in the dumps when I start looking to video games to fritter away my free time. I enjoy 'em well enough, but they feel empty, too. Games make it easier to put myself in a holding pattern; they give me an easy sink for all my restless energy, but then that energy isn't going towards actually changing my situation. I'd rather not do that, although sometimes it's hard to make the choice.

-- Alex

Breakups, deaths, and job loss all suck. Video games are awesome. so video games = cure.

but seriously, anything that can get your mind off of something bad like that is always good, but video games I've found, are always the best. Nothing like humiliating people on modern warfare 2 to ease your mind.

Excellent article. The honesty packed more emotional punch than a lot of essays I've seen on the topic. Thankyou for this.

What Mr. Westbrook describes in his article has some evidence in psycholgoy as it is. Johan Cullberg is a Profesor Emeritus in Psychiatry and has developed a model for crisis and lossmanagement where this situation can most certainly be applied.

He talks about four stages that the human psyche must go through after a crisis or loss before we can truly be said to have moved on. The first stage is obviously shock, during which people might not react at all, they might cry or panic it is also a period of time during which no person is thinking straight and psychosis or neurosis might manifest. The Shock wears off after a few hours to a few days depending on severity and individual circumstances and is followed by the reaction phase.
The Reaction phase is several weeks to a few months long and this is where we find what Mr. Westbrook described in his article. Those found in this phase can wracked by guilt, they are sad, angry or confused and are exhibiting clear signs of using mental defense mechanisms to keep it from overwhelming them. What Mr. Westbrook describes is Suppression and it is what I believe many gamers (including myself) use during tragedies. By engaging in games we can distance ourselves from our emotions and let them gradually "seep out" or fade in intensity. By not dealing with the loss we've suffered but simply putting distance to it, we can reach a point where we eventually feel our emotions aren't too strong to be dealt with.

As an end note, let me say I liked this article a lot.

Funny, I did almost the exact opposite after my GF (we never married but lived together for 6 years) left me. I also lost my job and my house at the same time and was 'forced' to a fresh start. I quit gaming for a while altogether. Not only did I regard it as something 'unproductive' I also did not feel like playing at all. I took on learning the guitar all by myself (which soaked up hours), started studying by myself, found a house, found a job, started exercising again, etc. Gaming made me feel bad, as if I relapsed into a bad habit (although it wasn't really that bad, I'm wasn't even close to addicted).

But, 2 years later, I have awakened the gamer in me once again. Bought a new PC, I have joined an active TF2 clan that aims high, bought one game after the other on steam and started playing big games I've missed in the mean time, at the same time that my new GF is starting to take up much of my free time.

I understand now that my GF had me by the balls even after the breakup. I was left pondering what went wrong and took some drastic measures, fundamentally in some false hope to win her back, even though i understood it would never happen and even hated her (it was a really bad breakup). Some measures were too drastic and I almost paid the price. A strong anxiety attack (feels like a hearth attack) at my 27th woke me up.

There must be a moral to this story somewhere ;) I think falling back to gaming for a while is a healthy way of recovering, but I must say that to this day I still bear the fruits of my madness. It left me as a skilled guitar player, many new friends, A healthier lifestyle and better body and an awesome new career. It also left me with an unparalleled knowledge of what I want in my life.
Balance is everything I guess.

This post went a little further than I intended ;)

That was a touching article. It reminded me of how i got back into gaming after my break-up.

Gethsemani:
What Mr. Westbrook describes in his article has some evidence in psycholgoy as it is. ... What Mr. Westbrook describes is Suppression and it is what I believe many gamers (including myself) use during tragedies. By engaging in games we can distance ourselves from our emotions and let them gradually "seep out" or fade in intensity. By not dealing with the loss we've suffered but simply putting distance to it, we can reach a point where we eventually feel our emotions aren't too strong to be dealt with.

Absolutely. From a psychological perspective this whole article makes fantastic sense.

One of the things he does in the article is mention his achievements: "I liberated a significant portion of the city from the gangs that occupied it...." People who are suffering after the end of a relationship can, consciously or not, feel that time they've poured into a relationship has been wasted. They can feel reset, similar to, though much stronger than, having a character in an MMO wiped out. Most video games are designed to give a very strong feeling of achievement, so he can rebuild that feeling of being accomplished.

Additionally, he was dealing with some loss of identity. Pointing out that he began "doing things I'd always wanted to do, but could never have done as part of a couple" shows that he was redefining himself as a person. But mentioning that he "...stopped to heal wounded civilians, even when [he] had somewhere [he] really needed to be," shows that he was at least loosely aware of using games to perform a similar redefinition, or a least a clarification.

This memoir would make an even more interesting article if it were cowritten with a psychologist.

Such a good article! I wish this article came to me a few months earlier, it could have been a huge argument in my Junior Research Paper. It's perfect real world example of how games can help emotionally and socially! Anyways, thank you for such a beautiful story.

I really like these kind of honest articles around. Can't say anything better or wiser, just to get better and have fun. Oh and fight fire with fire, get some new girl who likes games. It worked for me.

Deviluk:
Just like LorChan, my dad died last year, and since then, my brother and I have become the most lethal modern warfare soldiers, the most powerful pair of Paladins in azeroth, and trophy hoarders to a ludicrous extent.

Its something to fill the time, and concentrate on. Now though I am moving on to more productive things, like learning the piano and guitar, becoming a regular writer for a certain creative website and going to the gym more often.

Post some of your writing, why don'cha.

I remember when my grandpa died.
He was an awsome person, and I cried like a baby when I found out, and I cried at his funeral.

Gaming helped me cope.

But still, I miss him...

I actually had to take a huge step away from gaming when my ex fiance and I split up. The more I sat around and tried to keep my mind occupied with something so... stationary, and not exactly social (online games or not), the more I drove myself insane. I really needed to get out of the house and renew my social life, anyway, as relationships (when handled the wrong way) can really do a lot to destroy that side of life for an individual. Now, of course, I'm getting back in touch with my gamer side, if anything as something to do when I'm not out doing my thing, or with my current girl. And hell, I have the occasional gaming session with my lady now, but yeah, games were much more destructive than helpful when my big relationship ended.

i play video games all the time because i'm single... definately not the other way round...

My (now) ex-wife moving out was the impetus for me playing WoW, it helped fill the empty hours when I'd get home from work until I went to bed.

Somwhat along these lines, when my parents told me they were getting a divorce (way back in another lifetime when I was, 12 I think it was) I dealt with the anger and frustration by loading up a game of Syndicate on my trusty Amiga 1200 and eradicating everything in sight for several hours.
After that, it didn't really bother me.

This is really similar to what happened to me in the months after christmas 2008. I'd broken up with my high-school sweetheart (we only actually stayed apart for 6 months but I wasn't to know that) after being together for over four years. I went to my buddy's house, and we just played loads of Fifa, Street Fighter IV, L4D and other stuff, when I was playing games I wasn't drinking, so he really helped me out, and he basically made up his spare room for me to stay at, because me and the girl still shared a house. Like-minded company and video games are a really powerful combination; you've got total escapism on one hand, but on the other you're genuinely grounded in the real world by sharing a space with someone you get on well with. I'll say this; without my mate's help I probably would have been in considerably more of a mess.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here