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access_time May 9, 2014 at 12:16 AM in Features by Maggie Wiland

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I have severe clinical depression.

In a life where I’m essentially unemployed beyond these little writing gigs, have no other applicable job skills, nobody who loves me enough to be in a relationship with me and no interest really in fixing anything (on top of being transgender), I’ve got a myriad of health-both physical and mental-that drag me down on a day to day basis. Severe clinical depression, severe social anxiety (I sometimes don’t leave my apartment for 4 days at a time), no self esteem, no motivation and a dozen other things. Why am I telling you this? Why am I running down the gamut of problems with you, a person I’ve never and probably never will meet? Why am I going into such excruciatingly deep detail about my health on what is a gaming site? Because it makes you understand me more. It makes you comprehend my point of this article, which is hobbies.

Gaming is a hobby. However, hobbies are hobbies not because we simply enjoy doing them but because they sometimes serve a greater purpose. When I was a kid, I wrote because my life in grade school and middle school was atrocious. No friends, constantly harassed, kicking the back of my seat on the bus every day. I hated myself. I did horrible and got shit grades, and the only reason I today own a high school diploma is because I promised my grandfather I would and because continuation schools have low expectations of students it seems. Pretty easy to get the diploma. I simply had to show up. But beyond all this, writing was a hobby and yet it allowed me to express my emotions to the point where they weren’t simply bottled up inside of me. Livejournal and Blogger gave way to readers, people who could understand and relate, and give me feedback, let me know I wasn’t alone. A connection was formed between reader and writer that made the hobby of writing more than a simple enjoyable hobby. Made it a lifeline, because it kept me going.

Gaming is one of those things. In a world (I literally heard that trailer guy in my head when I wrote that) where I have no control over anything, I can hop into a game and have complete control over everything. Customization and modification leads to control. I like Mass Effect because I can be the kind of strong woman I always wanted. I like The Sims because I have the kind of home life I never had. I love Fallout because…well, guns and giant scorpions, really, but whatever. But in these small contained universes there is order, and balance and control. The things I lack in my own life I can gain a sense of in the world of gaming. Pokemon lets you fulfill a journey, making you feel important and critical to the world around you. Bioshock makes you feel chosen, as if everything that’s happening is a direct cause of your existence and Fallout is…well guns and giant scorpions, again, but fuck it. Gaming is an escape for sure, something to do when I want to not be bored, but now it’s more than that. When my friend Matts father died, he did the same thing. He dove into gaming and has never come out, because it’s a coping mechanism. It’s not necessarily that that’s healthy, but it has helped him, and he is a functioning human being (moreso than my sorry ass, that’s for damn sure), and it’s what I do now. What I once enjoyed as a mere quiet hobby as a child I now need as an adult to keep me going absolutely out of my mind.

Entertainment can do so much more than any therapist sometimes.

Gaming allows me control. It sometimes even forces me to believe I can take more control of my own life and so little by little I do. I have applied to go back to college this summer for a film/journalism degree. It’s forced me to take back some of my life, using the fake belief in the game to put to use in my real life, by thinking, “If I can do this in this game, why can’t I be this in control in real life?”

We often times view movies and video games and tv as nothing more then mere hobbies or entertainment, something to amuse us after work or during the day if unemployed but they can be more. They can help us. Video games may or may not be art-that debate is still stupidly going and I don’t care about it one way or the other-but what they ARE is useful, in many more ways than one. Hand eye coordination has been linked to being improved thanks to video games, so why not self esteem? Why not my situation? Who’s to say I’m not being helped?

Gaming gives me control, and gives me the belief that I can be in control in life too.

That’s a hell of a lot more than any school ever gave me.

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  • Ramon Aranda May 9, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Really cool piece Maggie. You def have a talent for writing.

  • courtney. May 9, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Fallout taught me that even when circumstances are incredibly dim, sometimes it’s that inner glow you need to release to blow back all the badness. It also taught me survival from nothing. Success in dismal conditions. A thought.

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