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Author Topic: Videogames and depression  (Read 1933 times)
Degolas
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« on: November 26, 2012, 06:29:43 AM »

Hi guys,

First off, I'm very aware that I'm a terrible lurker around here these days. My avatar is now about a decade out of date. But I'm also aware that this community remains (by and large) one of the more intelligent gaming communities out there, so it's the logical place for me to turn to for this.

Basically, I'm currently working on an article that focuses on depression and other mental illnesses in gaming. The idea is to consider how mental illness is portrayed in games, and also to look at the accusations often levelled at gaming that it causes depression. I want to use this to ask the question of whether games have a responsibility to address depression and mental illness.

So I'm looking for a couple of things. Firstly, games that feature characters with depression and mental illness that isn't just ill-defined craziness. Secondly, I'm interested in your stories. Has a game, or gaming in general, ever made you feel depressed? Or do you have positive stories about gaming helping with such issues? Obviously this can be a sensitive issue, so if you'd rather drop me a PM, that would be great.

Lastly, if this isn't in the correct forum, then I do apologise.

Thanks guys. Hope everyone is well.
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Alisha
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2012, 07:00:05 AM »

ive never heard of video games causing depression before. rather something people use to escape. much like people that get drunk after work.
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Annubis
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2012, 07:19:44 AM »

I want to use this to ask the question of whether games have a responsibility to address depression and mental illness.

Short answer:
No. Why should they?


Long answer:
This would be a terrible idea as NO ONE in the game industry has the knowledge needed as a medical professional. There are people specialized in those kinds of care and those are the people that should address mental illnesses. There's a good reason your car mechanic isn't doing brain surgery.
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Lard
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2012, 08:02:57 AM »

This isn't directly related but there's an Adam Sandler movie about him playing Shadow of the Colossus that helps him deal with his depression after 9/11, but for the life of me I can't remember the name, I'm sorry.
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2012, 08:12:09 AM »

This isn't directly related but there's an Adam Sandler movie about him playing Shadow of the Colossus that helps him deal with his depression after 9/11, but for the life of me I can't remember the name, I'm sorry.

Reign Over Me.
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Degolas
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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2012, 08:19:55 AM »

Reign Over Me is actually a very interesting example, thanks for that.

Perhaps I should elaborate more on the idea of responsibility. I mean it in terms of videogames entering the mainstream. As an art form, books and movies are expected to deal with some serious issues, depression being just such an example. So, in order to help gain acceptance in the mainstream, should games take it upon themselves to represent mental illness in an authentic way?

Obviously, not all games, just as not all books and movies are expected to deal with serious subject matter. But given that videogames frequently use an ill-defined madness to characterise bad guys, should they also sometimes show mental illness in a more realistic light?

I'm not necessarily arguing either way here. It's really just something I'm considering.
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 10:39:28 AM »

This feature we wrote about a year ago may be helpful to you:

http://www.rpgfan.com/features/RPGs_as_Therapy/index.html

It's not all about depression, but some of it is, and I think the rest is still good stuff.
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Tomara
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 12:15:25 PM »

It may be not all that helpful or revelant, but the first thing that came to my mind was: Today I Die. It's a very short but moving game.

The second thing that came to mind: Ben X

Quote
Long answer:
This would be a terrible idea as NO ONE in the game industry has the knowledge needed as a medical professional. There are people specialized in those kinds of care and those are the people that should address mental illnesses. There's a good reason your car mechanic isn't doing brain surgery.

I don't think we're talking treatment here. What about developers who experienced depression or another mental illness? Couldn't their personal story be worth sharing using games as a medium? A personal story in the shape of a game, it could raise awareness and give support to other patients. Knowing that there are people out there who went through the same, who understand... It's important.
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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 12:17:23 PM »

I feel like we had this conversation last year. Or am I going crazy.
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 10:45:12 PM »

Has a game, or gaming in general, ever made you feel depressed?

What level of depression are we talking about here? There are plenty of games that have made me uneasy or discomforted through plot twist, such as a likeable character's death,
Code:
but nothing that goes to the extreme that I would go into withdrawal because I didn't save the adorable creatures at the end of Super Metroid.

There have been plenty of discomforting feelings at the end of a bunch of rpgs/adventure/horror/terror games that I wish would have ended better. I think the most recent game ending that has left a bad taste in my mouth is The Witch's house. Go ahead and google that and you'll find the feeling is mutual with many other players of that game.

One thing I'm thinking, seeing you want to see how mental illness i portrayed in a game, why not check out...

Code:
Braid? You're practically playing a guy Obsessed with a woman. Also, wouldn't the player's strive to complete the game 100% be an act of obsession? I mean, what is your reward for getting the last collectible?
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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2012, 12:38:08 AM »

^ Yeah, I loved how Braid made obsession extremely ironic.  The "final battle" played in reverse gave me the chills.

Tales of the Abyss has cloning blues as a theme.

And like I said before, VLR made me sad when I realized I wouldn't find so crafty and creepy a story for a while (probably not until ZE3 is out).
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Degolas
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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2012, 04:18:34 AM »

Sorry if I'm going over old ground here - perhaps I haven't been lurking hard enough.

Thanks for your responses. Tooker, that feature article is really great, and the Depression part of it very useful to me indeed. Thanks for that.

I think Tomara's hit the nail on the head. Beyond offering distraction and comfort, games are unlikely to be a good medium for therapy (though there is an Australian game called SPARX which is designed to help teenagers combat depression). The thing with depression and other mental illness is that a lot of people, particularly young people, might not even recognise that they have it. By seeing it featured in a game, even a small way, might just encourage them to seek help. Whether or not gaming /should/ do that is another matter.

And again, as Tomara says, some games prove that the medium can be used to explore difficult topics. Papo & Yo is a good example of this from 2012.

Recently games have been so caught up trying to demonstrate gender equality and acceptance of the LGBT community that other problems risk being sidelined.
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Alisha
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2012, 04:22:40 AM »

games like persona 3/4/ar tonelico 2 helped me to see things from another perspective. i share some negative traits with characters and it was an eye opener.

"Recently games have been so caught up trying to demonstrate gender equality and acceptance of the LGBT community that other problems risk being sidelined."

Huh?
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« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2012, 04:27:08 AM »

Yeah, I'm with Alisha there. Huh? Gender equality and LGBT representation has a LONG way to go yet in video games. I don't think any other issues have been sidelined for them.
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Degolas
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« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2012, 05:58:47 AM »

Sidelined was a poor choice of word.

What I mean is that a lot of developers and publishers are falling over themselves to try and demonstrate LGBT equality, because it's a hot button issue, to the point where publishers are actually rated on it (EA recently getting a very high LGBT equality rating, if I'm not mistaken). I agree wholeheartedly that there's a still a long way to go here (FF14 being a good example), and I don't mean to say that mental illness is a more important issue by any means. Rather, I think it would be a good thing if there was similar attention paid to mental illness.
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I had a stupid dream
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Check out my YouTube videos!: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Degolas
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