Click on the podcast above to listen to an automated voiceover of the article post. Great for people who live life on-the-go, people who have visual impairments, or if you just don’t like to read. And if you fall asleep while listening to it because it sounds like those monotone documentaries on TV, I’m glad you got some sleep!

Please be aware that the topic of depression and this discussion may not be suited for all ages. I do not go into heavy/dark details about depression, but reading further will mean you accept and agree that you are suitable to read upon the subject.

Depression is not a light subject to talk about, but often these discussions are necessary to learn more information about how and why effects of depression occur, and what we can do to prevent or stop it from controlling our lives. I will talk about how video games assisted in my battle facing the ongoing and towering villain, Depression, in the game series called Life.

Background

My gaming hobby started at around 6 years old when my parents bought a Nintendo 64 for our household. You could probably guess that the first game I played on the console was Super Mario 64, followed by Star Fox 64, Donkey Kong 64, and Star Wars Episode 1: Racer. These games fueled my imagination as all 4 titles introduced adventure and exploration in fantasy worlds. These aren’t the first games that I ever played, but were the first games that my immediate family owned.

My parents regularly ushered me to play outside while growing up. I participated in sports, ran track and cross country, jumped on trampolines, rode dirt bikes, trained in archery, sniped my friends in paintball, and did various other outdoor activities. As much fun as those things were, they only stimulated my physical endurance and bodily health. I am someone who thinks all day, researches topics I love, and thoroughly thinks about why I love or hate things like I do. What I truly enjoyed for mental fortitude and creativity was piecing together puzzles, reading fiction novels, writing fantasy stories, coloring color books, and I absolutely loved playing video games.

People generally labeled me as a smart kid. I was independent, quiet (but not shy), honest, responsible, and self-confident. I had best friends and a family that loved me. I felt proud of myself. I felt good… Then, one day, and it’s hard to think of any singular reason why, my mind just decided… that, maybe, I was alone in the world. It’s hard to understand what forces your brain to turn against itself. I was typically the nerdy, smart, quiet kid of the class. But I was never bullied. Nobody picked on me. My friends enjoyed hanging out with me everyday. My parents always supported me. I was confident in my ability to learn, adapt, and be the best that I could be.

But, Was I alone? Was I worthless?

Such a silly question to ask myself, you would think. My first thoughts screamed out reasons to ignore the voice in the back of head. “No, you’re not alone, Jordan. You have everything a boy could ask for. You are smart and young. You’re doing just fine!” I should have listened to those thoughts more closely. They were true. They were real. But… That’s what depression does.

Depression is a silent assassin. It sweeps truth under the rug, hides any pleasant feelings away, festers on the rotted mind, and plants a dark seed in the faithful heart. In this instant, I’m reminded of the movie, Inside Out, and how the depiction of the main female character slowly loses herself to sadness throughout the film. Once the seed forms a root, joyful memories become harder to remember, and the joyful events you usually see or come to know suddenly become harder to recognize. To carve out the root would also take a piece of your heart with it. Depression is a truly disgusting illness.

The battle for my mind didn’t start until I was around 15 years old. By this time, I had the usual teenage angst, experienced a few girlfriends, succeeded in some areas, failed in other areas, caused falling out trouble with best friends, and developed strong relationships with special role models in my life. I know this will sound silly, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the first game to assist in the battle of my depression. Struggling to deal with my demon, I turned to competitive gaming as my outlet. I poured my heart and soul into this game and found out that I was actually really good at it. My kill/death ratio was higher than 4.0. I dropped plenty of nukes in death match modes. Modern Warfare 2 helped me escape the nagging sensation that I was worthless. I was told I was good at lots of things, so how could I feel worthless? Well… That’s what depression does. Yet, the dark depressing seed in my heart hadn’t quite tainted the thought that I was amazing at this game.

I wouldn’t have a headset to talk online for another 6 months, but during my time without a headset, Modern Warfare 2 is where I met some of my first online friends. I joined a clan, Unreal Nightmare, when it was still in its infancy stage. In 2021, Unreal Nightmare is still largely known in the Call of Duty scene and participates in professional tournaments on a regular basis. I wish them the best of luck on each one. Anyway, I don’t run with UrNm anymore due to limited time as a father and worker, but I am still good friends with the founder, ElectricMD. Many of my current friends in 2021 are people from the old Unreal Nightmare days, including one of my best friends, MiracleBoy. I don’t exactly know how to describe the feeling, but I started to feel good again. I felt happy for the first time in a long while.

I met my wife on Modern Warfare 2 too! We met in an online match and messaged each other over Xbox. We talked for 5 years until we decided to commit to a relationship. Turned out we only lived 8 hours apart! I met her face-to-face for the first time in 2015. It was the day of her high school senior prom! Of course, first-time meets can be very dangerous, so you should always, always, always bring at least 2 friends or relatives with you when meeting an online “stranger” for the first time. I had my mom and brother along for the ride and she had her parents. Snapshot to 2021, we are married and have a beautiful daughter. Hooray! Modern Warfare 2 was a winning battle that healed parts of my mind, but the war was far from over. I would love to say it’s been sunshine and rainbows ever since, but… That’s what depression does.

There is no cure for the hidden oppressor. Everyone has their way of handling it, but I have learned to just deal with it. I have good days and bad days. I do feel more alive and encouraged when I play video games though. I gain a sense of accomplishment that I don’t feel from a job or from other societal things. Video games help drown out those cold-hearted questions, “Are you alone? Are you worthless?” For anyone who has experienced depression, you understand the indescribable gnawing in your ear that is oh so eager to stay there. Video games, for whatever reason, sent the gnawing beast back home. If only it stayed home.

Other games that heavily contributed in battling my depression are the Guitar Hero series, Dead Island series, Splinter Cell series, Final Fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Super Smash Bros. Melee, ATV Offroad Fury, Mass Effect series, and many, many more!

Game Gush Gamer is another outlet I use to express my gratitude for gaming. My wife, daughter, family, and friends all assist in beating depression, but video games are showcased here because they are a huge part of my existence. It’s been 11 years since Modern Warfare 2 released, and I’m still playing online games with good ol’ Miracle Whip! I am on top of the mountain and have been doing good for the last few years. I fully intend to stay on top and continue winning the war.

How Have Video Games Helped You In Your Battles with Mental Illness? Comment Below!


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