A recent family bereavement has left me feeling very low. I'm more than usually apathetic. nothing really keeps my attention and I just can't be bothered. Watching T.V. is dull, when I try to do something constructive I just can't see the point. I know it's part of my grief and things will improve but at the moment everything is too much trouble. It's not really my nature to nothing so I feel restless. The feeling is like when you catch a cold and all your food tastes bland. It supresses your appetite because nothing really tastes as it should.
What i have found is that I can play games. I can sit on the sofa and load in a game and play. I'm not especially engaged with the game it's a bit like music on the radio. I can play and appear to be doing something. It keeps be 'busy' but it's like listening to music on the radio, it's just running in the background.
I'm very grateful that games provide this experience for me. The games are alleviatying some of the symptoms and in this awful state I at least am able to feel kind of productive and more settled. Thanks gaming for your comfort.
When I realised that playing was the only thing I could do I was kind of suprised. At first I was genuinely happy that games could fill this function and that maybe this meant that they had more meaning to some people. But my brain wouldn't just stop there. Why was gaming OK and watching a movie not OK?
A part of the solution is the interactivity. Games make me move in response. Make me join in to progress, so if my brain wanders onto something else then the game stops moving and I'm pulled back into the interaction. But the same could be said for shelling peas or some other minor physical activity.
Maybe its the games ability to occupy me with a carefully crafted story. Maybe the virtual lives on screen are so interesting they literally transport me from my current situation into a fantasy world. But in actual fact I think that the opposite was happening. I could progress without full concentration and the game was just a wallpaper to my mental state.
There are some powerful film and TV experiences. They shake you to your core, you have to digest and come to terms with them. Take Schindlers List for example. I'm pretty sure that film would be unwatchable for me in my current state. It's such a powerful emotional experience that I'd really struggle to watch that. Then I tried to think of a game that was (currently) taboo to me for the same reason. There wasn't one.
It could be that because I make games and play games and have been around games since the early '80's that they have no mystery to me. Let's hope that is the case, because if not then we haven't made a single game with enough emotional power to upset a recently bereaved human.
When games become emotionally relevant we are a step closer to some more well accepted forms of media. Even the most basic of soap opera's attempts to stir the emotions of it's audience and not just with shallow thrills.