This time last year, I was in a very bad place for my mental health. I had lost my primary group of friends. I was depressed, having multiple anxiety attacks every day, barely slept or ate and all while also trying to maintain my grades as a full-time college student.

It was at this time I decided to buy a gaming console to give myself a mental break. If I have a hard day, I go home, log on and play for an hour or two to calm down, distract myself and organize my thoughts.

After making friends across the platform, I found solace in gaming. We work together to complete tasks that we wouldn’t be able to do without support, all while laughing and having a good time. Because of them, there is a positive atmosphere created in gaming that is sometimes missing in real life. Gaming gave me a source of communication and the ability to be a part of something when I would feel the most alone.

As my love for video games began to grow, I wanted to understand why I became hooked after being surrounded by the negative stigma of gaming my whole life. I realized two things about video games that were true to my scenario.

First of all, video games are an outlet. They provide me with something to focus on, rather than my own emotions. If I have to work on precision shots, then that is all I will be thinking about for the next few hours of gameplay. I am a task-oriented person, so giving me something to focus on will help to calm me down and I can carry on with my day.

Secondly, video games provide a sense of satisfaction. As human beings, we strive to achieve in everyday life, but this is a challenge as sometimes things get in the way that prevent us from accomplishment. Video games provide a clear object, steps to complete that objective, a guide to do so and rewards at the end. With finishing an objective in the game, there is a feeling of satisfaction at having accomplished something that we otherwise may not get from the real world.

Knowing these two things made me realize why I never enjoyed video games until the present day. I never had such intense emotional distress before starting college or even before my life began to fall apart sophomore year. I realize this may seem like a dramatic statement, but when you feel alone and isolated like I did when you have a feeling that no one cares about your existence, it seems like your life’s falling apart. It is because of this feeling that I say, video games saved my life.

In the past year of being a “gamer,” I have gotten better with managing my mental health. As the real world was snuffing out the positive aspects of my life, gaming provided me with the relief I needed at the end of the day. Now I am in a better place where I can play video games for fun, rather than as a distraction, making gameplay more enjoyable for my friends and I. Who knows where I would be today if I didn’t go on an impromptu Black Friday shopping trip.

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Anna Meassick
Anna is a junior Environmental and Natural Resources Economics Management major, pursuing a minor in Education. She spends a lot of my time reading, taking photos of nature, sketching and taking care of animals at a nature center back home. Anna really loves working with kids to teach them about the importance of the environment. She joined the Cigar first semester of her freshman year as a contributing photographer and then became a staff photographer. Email: apmeassick@my.uri.edu Instagram: apmeassick