Mental health can be either fickle or established, and require huge effort to change, depending on who you ask. I’ve found my mental health more in the ‘established’ category, taking a huge effort to change for the better or the worse. This means when I struggled with my mental health, it was a long time before I could honestly say I was feeling better.
Gaming has affected my mental health in different ways. The games that tended to be the worse for my mental state were competitive games or games that required skill that I didn’t believe I had while I was playing them. Examples of those types of games would be ‘League of Legends’ or the ‘Halo’ series with teammates that were angry as I was costing them competitively or personally berating myself that I wasn’t doing as well as I expected I could.
Games that tended to be better for my mental state and games that have actively helped me are split into two groups, narratively helpful and rewarding ones with small objectives over time.
Games which were ‘Narratively helpful’ to me were because the story was close, or could in some small areas represent things happening in my life or to people around me, or were at least representative of fears I had and how to deal with them.
My favourite example of this is the ‘Ori & the Blind forest’ series which speaks to the pain of losing a friend, or the worries about environmental impact, it was substantial in helping me deal with the former and made me more aware of the latter. Other games include ‘Witcher 3’, ‘Pyre’ for its ‘Choice’ system etc.
The other type of games are those that rewarded me in small ways with achievements or simply the numbers going up making me feel like I had achieved something and were rewarding in that way. Games like ‘Path of Exile’ or ‘RuneScape’ filled that niche, slowly levelling up your skill level in say ‘Mining’.