When reading the latest issue of my favorite online magazine TILT [It’s free so check it out!] I came across a very interesting article about the use of gaming within phsychotherapy. When you hear about gamers in the media it is usually negative. many incidents like school shootings are linked to kids playing games and being influenced by them. Games make them loose their grip on reality and so forth. The same with roleplayers, when they are portraid in series or movies it is often to make them look like sad little geeks.
The article mentions the other side of gamers. People who play games online are part of a society, they have friends online that they can turn to in times of need. Those online friends are important to them and the article rightly states that therapists need to know about these online worlds to truely be able to understand their clients.If not they are missing a large chunk out of the life of their clients. I strongly applaud this. Yes I will admit to being a gamer both online and offline and I am a roleplayer.
In part II of this article I will bring evidence of how the playing of games and the friends you make can have a very positive affect on people as well. I have asked gaming friends to share their stories with me. If you are a gamer reading this feel free to contact me as well on firstname.lastname@example.org. I think it is high time that this positive side of the gaming community gets more attention.
For now I will share my experience with you. As a teenager I was very insecure and was bullied in school because I was not interested in boys and make-up like the other girls. I was interested in learning, books and fantasy. We did not have computers in those days but when I was in my early twenties I found a roleplaying group in my hometown. For the first time in many years I was able to be myself in a group and find like minded people! 20 years on some of these people are my best friends. This shows that gaming can be a very social thing and also a means to blow off steam for those who do not always feel at home in our modern society. Being able to pretend to be somebody else for a few hours per week can be very refreshing. You might be surprised to find that many roleplayers are highly educated people who hold down good jobs and are perfectly sane.
Through sharing my own story I have hope to show that gaming is social, alleviates stress and helps you make friends. What is not to like?