Video Games and the News
When video games usually hit the news its often not for positive reasons. Every now and then if you happen to read in the right places you might just come across a truly touching story where games did a lot of good. For today’s article I wanted to share some of the games that inspired some truly touching tales and hopefully bring a little sunshine to your day too.
From Darkness to Oddworld
I once watched a documentary years ago called Moral Kombat which touched on the subject of violence in video games. Sadly despite my best efforts I can’t find this documentary online anymore. Regardless within the documentary a lovely story was shared by the developers of the Oddworld series.
An old man was suffering with severe depression after loosing his wife. He decided to just start spending all of his money before taking his own life. One of the more unusual purchases he made was a Sony Playstation with a copy of Oddworld Abe’s Odyssey. He knew very little of video games but decided to plug everything in and give it a shot. To his surprise he became deeply involved in the experience. So much so it brought a lot of happiness and purpose back into his life. He wrote a letter to the developers thanking them for making the game. In the documentary the developers were incredibly moved themselves. So the happiness was spread.
Get Up and Go
A more recent and popular game is Pokemon Go, a free to play mobile game. I downloaded it for a very short period before deleting it. I’m just not really a fan of mobile gaming and games with in-app purchasing, but his title brought a lot more to people’s lives than I expected. Many people in this world suffer from mental health conditions. Mental health disease is very complex and there’s no treatment that suits absolutely everyone. However, Pokemon Go proved an unexpected assistance for people with some forms of depression and social anxiety.
Some people who had literally not left the house in years were finally driven to leave the front door in search of random digital monsters. Not only that, getting people walking also proved to be good exercise making some people fitter in the process. Fresh air and exercise are known to be great help for various illnesses not just mental health.
Pokemon Go also proved to be a game to bring communities together. With people meeting in the park and talking for the first time. And other players trying to make the game more accessible for people in hospitals.
Josh Pappenheim wrote an incredible article about his struggle with anxiety. And how discovering the game Firewatch gave him the courage he needed to reach out and seek professional help. I highly recommend reading this article in full since he writes much more professionally than the dingus writing this article. What I like most about the article is it doesn’t end the story with “video games helped and that’s it” like a film cliche. He digs deeper, reaching out to his Twitter followers and writing the good and the bad experiences people have had with anxiety when playing video games. While I would love to live in a world where video games only do good, I think its very important to realize it can’t end with the video game. Further support and assistance is often needed. Sometimes video games make things worse and we do need to accept that. But if playing something is the first step into people getting the help they need, then it’s always good in my opinion.
Disaster To Sunshine
Some disasters are just totally out out of our control, particularly when it comes to the weather. Japan suffered a devastating tsunami in 2011. Bringing a lot of tragedy to peoples lives. Koichi Hayashida, director of Super Mario 3D Land (on 3DS), was keen to make a game where he wanted his team to focus on the joy of creation and development. Unfortunately the team felt the effects of the earthquake in Tokyo. While this did bring some fear to begin with, Koichi Hayashida decided to commit to making a game that would bring as much happiness to peoples lives as possible. Not only to the gamers, but to the developers as well. His idea being: if you enjoy making something it will lead to something enjoyable. The project ended up being a success and Koichi Hayashida shared a comment where someone mentioned the game was like a light shining into a depressing period.
Now I want to go back and play Super Mario 3D World. But wait let me share one more.
I thought I would end by sharing my own story. Just over a year ago I moved from the South of England to the East coast of England. I’m no stranger to moving, and I have done it rather a lot during my life. This time was a little different. It was quite stressful and there was a lot to sort out. We had trouble finding a place to live, trouble moving, and I had a lot of trouble finding new work. Oddly, I decided this was the best time to start playing a little game called Bloodbourne (on PS4). This was created by the minds behind Dark Souls. A series I am not ashamed to admit I struggled to get into. I just found it too hard and frustrating despite my best efforts.
Bloodbourne though, for some reason, really hit me. I adored the dark Gothic art style, the soundtrack, and the terrifying enemy designs. Not only that, but something about the gameplay really worked for me. Bloodbourne rewards a player taking risks in combat. Rather than retreating to fight another day if you decide to push on with a fight you could gain some health back. This reminded me of the importance of resilience and trying, even if it leads to failure. From this I ended up volunteering as a gardener for a charity, and not long after that paid work soon came. But this only came after many failures which I was okay with. The funny thing is I have yet to even finish Bloodbourne, but I’m grateful it gave me that little push.
Thank you for reading, be sure to share your own stories in the comments below. Don’t forget that through all the darkness light will make its way through even if it seems small.