Video Games Are My Therapy

Suggested audio: Simple and Clean by Utada Hikaru

Back in the early 2000s, I was browsing in the videogame section of HMV and stumbled across an intruiging title called Kingdom Hearts (KH) developed for the Playstation 2 in 2002 by Square Enix. It was a fusion of Disney and Final Fantasy characters with new ones for which the storyline was created. An action based role playing game (RPG) revolving around a 14 year old boy who’s world was destroyed by the Heartless. He, through many adventures and subsequent game releases across many platforms, embarks on a battle heavy mission to find his friends and restore many worlds. An epic story of Light overcoming Darkness by the power of unity and friendship spanning across over a dizzining twenty four titles of which I have enjoyed very many. Yes, even the current mobile app is installed on my phone!

The theme song “Simple and Clean” by Utada Hikaru (above) is the emotional track featured on most releases and has been remixed several times.

You’re probably wondering why I am writing about a video game franchise. As you play huge epic adventures (not forgetting my love of the Final Fantasy and Silent Hill sagas) you feel part of the story. You feel in that world, running the gauntlet of intense emotions both positive and negative and by the time the long credits roll, you find yourself in tears almost as though you’d just finished watching all four series of 13 Reasons Why. Yes really, it can be that extreme! It’s a strange sensation over a video game but like books, films and music, they have an impact upon the player. Back in the 1980s, RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons were feared to have caused players to become so deeply immersed in that world, accusations of encouraging dabbling in the occult and even suicide. Thankfully the only thing KH caused in me was an incredible surge of joy and love for those nearest and dearest to me due to such subliminal beauty and intense love.

During times of depression, anxiety, stress or plain old haunting uncertanty I’ve switched on on of my many consoles and loaded up whatever KH game came to mind. Birth By Sleep released in 2010 for the Sony PSP is a strong contender for my favourite. It can be played three times as each of the three characters running on a parallel storyline to seek, destroy and reunite. Not forgetting a secret level to unlock. Focusing on the quote-tastic script it is very much like a CBT exercise. Hearing the very positive, the comforting and obliterating the negative.

I’m not ashamed to say this is what comforts me and helps me clamber out of my mental pit of despair. My husband fully understands and accepts the fact I’ve loved video games ever since playing with my friend’s Commodore 64. Perhaps back then it was a way of escapism from myself moreso than the beautiful world. Players enjoy becoming the hero, finding rare pick-ups, spending hours doing one of the most rewarding things ever: levelling up your statistics and unlocking the unknown. There are many ways to become someone else for a couple of hours from reading a good book, losing yourself in wonderful films and box sets and it is certainly not a bad thing.

If I’m ever pulled up and told that ridiculous line about still playing video games “at your age” I calmly tell them I owe my rehabilitation from my brain bleed in 1996 to Sonic The Hedgehog! When I was recovering and having gruelling therapies, I was permitted use of my Sega Megadrive. My parents brought it in for me with a couple of uplifting games and the nurses set it up on a TV in the disused day room (there were two). Playing with a normal and weak hand was a frustrating but amusing challenge but helped with my co-ordination fantastically.

Please now excuse me whilst I go and forge the ultimate Keyblade.

© Copyright: Sharon Lawson™

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