Last week I provided an overview of depression. This week I shall take a look at its connection with gaming. I’ve been gaming for fourteen years, and have had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people – folks that I gladly call “friend.” And there is one thing that I have noticed about the gamer population compared to the general population. I believe that the rate of depression in gamers is higher than that of the general population.
Gamers & Depression
Why is that? Are depressed people drawn to gaming? Or does gaming make one more depressed? Or is it simply a coincidence, or faulty observation on my part?
We can eliminate that last question based on the proven fact that I am always right. (Which, by the way, is another source of my depression. It is an incredible burden to be right all the time 😀 .)
The second question seems counter-intuitive: How can something “fun,” like playing games, make you feel depressed? Sure, many of the games we play are competitive, and no one likes to lose; losing can put one in quite a funk. But at the same time we recognize that “it’s just a game,” so the prospect and experience of losing are not that emotionally traumatic. Furthermore, many games, especially RPG’s are cooperative, allowing everybody to “win.”
Therefore I’m brought back to the first question: Are depressed people drawn to gaming? I think that there is some solid evidence to indicate this probability.
First, depression makes it difficult to socialize with other people, but gaming provides a “bridge” to social interaction. It’s easier to address another person through the medium of a game, with its rules and structure, compared to trying to strike up a conversation with someone at “regular” party.
Second, it gives the depressed person something to do. Lack of activity and motivation are the most difficult parts of depression to deal with. Gaming, at the very least, is an activity to focus on and participate in. Thus gaming is the vehicle by which one can combat that lack of motivation and activity.
I’m sure there are other reasons (which a qualified sociologist or psychologist could explain) why gamers seem to have a higher rate of depression than the general population, but these two stand out strongest to me.