Kettle on. Shoes off. Jump onto the sofa and grab a controller. Instantly I am transported to another world. For their ‘Mind Yourself’ campaign, Independent.ie asked me to discuss my happy place. Video games are my happy place. They have the ability to take me to places I’ve never been, to discover civilizations unknown, to be a hero, all from my own home.
For me, games are a form of escapism, a break from the mundane of everyday life. Games act as a stress relief from the pressure of University assignments and study. As a final year student I have plenty of stress to escape from! A good game can instantly wash away my worries and fears so I can simply relax. Whenever an essay or assignment is getting to me or I have writers block, I take an hour out to play a game.
Be it idle games like Cookie Clicker where the aim of the game is to make lots and lots of cookies or games with a cult following like the newly released Fallout 4, I love to play them all. Right now Fallout 4 is my game of choice, allowing me to adopt the persona of a survivor of a nuclear fallout. I can submerge myself in imaginary a world completely new to me. Every game is a new discovery.
I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, GameBoy, Nintendo DS, you name it, I had it. My first game console was a yellow Gameboy Colour that I got for my birthday and I loved it so much. I loved my PlayStation 1 just even more. This is where my love of games really began with Spyro and Crash Bandicoot. I would throw myself into games. Finishing levels and defeating bosses would fill me with pride. You can click on the images below of just some of my favourite childhood games.
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The impact of their storylines can last for days after you turn it off, invoking emotions as much, if not more, as a movie or book. An unprecedented death of a favourite character in a game would be just as upsetting to me as the untimely death of a firm favourite in a TV series. For me, stories are an unquenchable thirst. The way a plot grabs me and won’t let go until I reach the end makes me happy, the sense of accomplishment when I reach the end of story mode is very rewarding. Video games can invoke a number of emotions, from fear to sadness to exhilaration and happiness. I’ve felt it all in my happy place of a video game.
As a blogger, journalist and English student, narrative based games are of a particular interest to me. I recently finished playing Life is Strange and was engrossed in the story from start to finish and even had a lasting effect on me long after I had finished the game. The game’s plot focuses on Maxine Caulfield, a photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any moment, with often less than favourable results.
Despite being blamed for mental illness in youths, video games also act as a therapy of sorts for many. In 2012, researchers in New Zealand developed “SPARX,” to treat depression using a video game. The acronym stands for “smart, positive, active, realistic and x-factor thoughts.”and involves playing a fantasy game where players create avatars. Each level taught players basic facts about depression, strategies for dealing with intense negative emotions and relaxation techniques. About 44 percent of SPARX players recovered completely from depression.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go to my happy place, my PlayStation is waiting! First I will leave on this note: