Mental Health & Gaming: 3 facts that make gamers (not) crazy.

Last year, video game addiction has made its official entrance in the world health mental disorder. As gambling, gaming is now a “diagnosable condition”, giving mental health professionals a basis for setting up treatment and identifying risks for the addictive behaviour.

When as usual, pushed at the extreme, gaming can be considered as an addiction, I wanted to discuss and to take down 3 assumptions that I have often hear or read when gaming is mentioned.

Here we go!

#1: Video games will make you an antisocial

We have this common vision of the game as a teenager in a dark and messy room in front of a bright screen. Isolated from the world.

Capture from Black Mirror Bandersnatch.

If it still can be the case today, most of the games are not as isolated as it appears. Rooms are bright, well decorated and detail-oriented and we are definitely not alone! And the gaming industry understood this quickly.

When I switch on my PS4, the very first thing that I check is to see if there is one of my friend connected. This little information will then determine what I should play next.

To not talk about my experience only, we can see how socialization around gaming can make a game itself successful (let’s start talking about World of Warcraft, then GTA V or even more recently Fortnite).

Even if we, gamers, still enjoy playing by ourselves some captive stories & scenarios (this is a hidden message for Bethesda ;)) we do enjoy playing with others and being connected. For real.

And let’s not talk about Esports, one of the biggest trend announced for 2019, with now thousands of people indeed, in a dark room, but definitely not alone!

#2: Video games will make you stupid

“Stop wasting your time playing video games and go play outside!”
“ Read a book instead of playing your stupid game!”

We have all heard it. Yup. It’s not because our parents wanted to annoy us, but because it is one of the biggest assumptions about video games: staying in front of your screen will make you dumb.

When surely, as listening to music too loud or drinking too much alcohol, moderation is key, video games don’t make you stupid.

More than just building a competitive spirit, video games can actually teach you something.

The best example that I can give is from the Ubisoft Saga “Assassin’s Creed”. I am a big fan of History and I am French. The French Revolution is, of course, something that was massively part of my history lessons, but obviously not the funniest part.

Ubisoft successfully made the French Revolution fun. Assassin’s Creed Unity is a visually beautiful game happening in Paris, but what Ubisoft did more beautifully is making the player experience the French Revolution as a protagonist: you will then cross pass with the infamous Robespierre, the soon-to-be Emperor Napoleon or even be the spectator of last French king’s execution, Louis XVI.

Capture from Assassin’s Creed Unity

Ubisoft partnered with historian academics from Quebec but also from Sorbonne University in Paris to revise the script. Historian academics. Just that.

A study in the prestigious American Psychologist Journal found that playing shooter games improved a player capacity to think about 3D objects just as well as academic courses to enhance this same skill. Previous research has established the power of spatial skills for achievement in sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 
Short translation? Playing Call of Duty can actually help you if you aim for a career in Science, Maths or Computer engineering. Again, just that.

#3: Video game is not Real life

Well, I can only agree with this one.

Of course, video games are not real life (even if I wish to be this cowboy riding my horse in the middle of America during the 19th century. I really wish).

from Red Dead Redemption (#PS4Share)

But that’s what makes the beauty of video games: it’s all about dreams!

Starting from video games developers, artists, scriptwriters, graphic designers but also gamers and gaming industry, video games allow everyone to actually escape the reality.

And I will finish my article on this.

I know that this debate around gaming addiction reflects a deeper preoccupation: children’s health.

My point is video games can look real, but they are not reality.

It is our role and responsibility as adults/parents/siblings but also gamers/gaming studios to raise awareness on this subject to the younger ones. It’s not by telling a young boy or girl that enjoys gaming that he/she will not make friends or he/she will become stupid that will help him/her. Quite the opposite. It’s when video games become their only reality that gaming becoming toxic.

And to show them today how some socially-integrated, healthy and successful people can also be massive geeks and gamers is the best reality that we show them…