GamePlay Blog – Week 3
September 25th – October 1st 2017
Games have had a profound impact on me: my life, my social circle, and my ability to cope with certain illnesses. This week I have spent some time reflecting on how I felt about games, and how those games made me feel, with regards to my current mental stability. I think that it’s important to underline just how fluid games can be—they are entertainment, certainly, but they can mean so many different things to different players, at different times. Last week, I played almost purely for the fun of gaming. This week was considerably different.
Although Overwatch (Overwatch) continues to be my favourite go-to game, I did not enjoy myself this week nearly as much as I did previously. Unfortunately my mental-health situation does not always allow me to find consistent enjoyment, even from things that I love doing. Nevertheless, I continued to play, perhaps out of the necessity of distraction than anything else. I did want to play—but for more than a few days this week, I think Overwatch was meant to fill time and make me feel like I was doing something rather than absolutely nothing.
Unlike the past few weeks, my gameplay time is significantly lower than usual. I can attribute this to the above mentioned situation, but I would also likely attribute this to classes beginning to really pick up in terms of readings and assignments. Furthermore, I think this sudden change might also be in part related to the social side of gaming. My partner and I play games together daily, however, this week we were only joined by our mutual friends once, as compared to two or three times as in previous entries. Based on what I now know about myself and my gaming habits, it makes sense that I might feel less motivated to play if I know our friends are consistently busy.
This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Overwatch impacted me:
- I was a lot more aware of others players around me. I think this is likely due to feeling a bit detached from my friends and craving more social interactions, even though I don’t often communicate through in-game chat. I noticed nice or rude players more than I think I usually would, and I felt a lot more fulfilled when I had a friendly team.
- While I still had a desire to play, I found myself putting off the gratification of playing so as to do other things. Overwatch is a habit—and like any habit, it can be difficult to break, but sometimes that’s necessary so as to get other things accomplished that I might otherwise not have. Every round of Overwatch varies because of the players, but the core game will be the same every time I play it (without regard to patches). I think I’m beginning to become more self-aware: I pay a lot more attention to why I want to play, and how badly I actually want to satisfy that craving, and whether it can wait another hour or so.
- I had a lot less fun when things became frustrating or the people I was playing with became annoyed with the game. Despite my attempts, like last week, to focus more on playing the game for my own enjoyment, it is still very much a distraction and an escape. In that respect, my enjoyment hinges on preserving that bubble of escapism—and so when other players begin to puncture it by becoming upset or irritated, it briefly pulls the curtain back and brings me out of the game.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
I spent a lot of time this week thinking about and playing Animal Crossing (Animal Crossing: New Leaf). It’s such a simple game—and yet it contains so much customization content that a player really can make their in-game village personal and unique. To me, it’s a very soothing game: there’s a simplistic joy in creating something that is distinctly yours, and getting to experience it over and over again as you continue to play.
My gameplay time this week is a bit more sporadic than usual. Animal Crossing continues to be inconsistent in terms of time spent playing it, despite the consistency in which I play. It’s an interesting game precisely because in-game events and happenings change daily, and it works on a real-time clock so that if you’re playing on Tuesday September 26th at 4pm in real life, it’s also Tuesday Septeber 26th at 4pm in the gameworld.
This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Animal Crossing impacted me:
- I’ve been a lot more excited about my game progress. Last week, as per my blog entry, I was feeling some stress about how I wanted to proceed with certain things in-game, but as I took the time to properly plan things out, that anxiety went away. Now that those projects are complete, I can easily say I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction.
- My partner and I continue to play together, visiting each other in-game and bringing gifts or useful items to help one another out. He routinely comes to my town to tour my progress and my pastel aesthetic, something that, like the progress itself, gives me a sense of pride. We’ve openly said that, were it not for the frequency that we both play, neither of us would probably be so committed to the game. In that sense, the game becomes a medium through which we can “show off” to each other without it being competitive.
- I felt a lot calmer and more focused playing Animal Crossing this week. I set myself some specific objectives to occupy my time, and that seemed to help immensely in terms of generating a sense of accomplishment as well as keeping me busy when I was too unmotivated to do much else in real life.
Upon reviewing my data and analyzing my feelings this week, I realize that I am profoundly thankful for games. Games are so much more than entertainment: they serve as a break in reality, a few hours of relief from all of life’s stress and responsibilities. For myself and my mental illness, I would go as far as to say that they are necessary, in terms of providing a small stretch of time in which I am distracted and my mind is too occupied to drown in its own thoughts. It is something to do when even the most mundane responsibility seems like too much to bear—when eating, or sleeping, or even motivating myself to get out of my pyjamas is simply too much. Games like Overwatch let me will myself to do something instead of nothing, in hopes that I’ll find some enjoyment in the experience. Games like Animal Crossing, too, give me the satisfaction of completing tasks and accomplishing things, no matter how small. This week, I’ve learned to be thankful for video games.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Nintendo. December 8, 2016. Video game.
Overwatch. 188.8.131.52B. Blizzard Entertainment. August 31, 2017. Video game.