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Killshot: stress relief through gaming

by Ivy Velazquez

I crouched behind a wall, peering around the corner to see my target with his back to me. I waited a few moments for him to turn around and walk towards me but he stayed at his post. Growing impatient, I let out a low whistle, causing him to spin around in alarm. As he began to creep towards me, I prepared to attack. Just as he was about to turn the corner and caught sight of me, I leapt, unsheathing my hidden blade and stabbed downward.

Smiling in satisfaction, I leaned back and was about to move on when…the door opened and my roommate walked in. I looked around and gave her a slightly guilty smile. Looking between me and the television, where Assassin’s Creed was still displayed, she smirked and asked, “Have you moved?”

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the recognition of  Gaming Disorder as an official mental illness. WHO defines this disorder as behavior that prioritizes gaming over other daily activities and the continuation or escalation of this behavior despite evidence of negative consequences. This distinction will fall under the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

This announcement caused a bit of an uproar in the gaming community. Surely this would only add to the stigma against video gaming. Gamers already face judgements, what with being told that something they loved is a sign of laziness, makes them violent or is a sign of someone who is simple-minded.

There are harmful effects, though, that can be caused by video gaming. Too much of anything can be bad for a person and there is a certain addictive quality to playing video games. Video gaming offers a sense of satisfaction to those who play and an escape we all desire from the real world, which isn’t a bad thing.

However, those who are not gamers rarely look to the benefits of gaming; especially towards those with mental illnesses. According to Science Daily, scientists have gathered research showing that playing for just 30 minutes a day can help those with anxiety and depression and it can act as a  painkiller to those who suffer from chronic pain. They have also shown that it can improve memory and one’s ability to problem solve.

But to make it more simple, almost every gamer would probably agree that it’s just a good stress reliever.  Everyone has a way that they escape, be it writing, reading, working out or binging a show on Netflix. Gaming allows the player to temporarily step into another world, live someone else’s life, do things they would never be able to do in the real world.

As college students, we’re all familiar with the feeling of be stressed over an assignment (or a few), as well as whatever extracurriculars we have going on. What we end up doing is continuing to work without a break until we finish everything. But ultimately, that drains us even more and is bad for us.

I know that when I play video games, I use it to let out frustrations that may not be very good for me to let out in the real world. It’s an outlet. I do have others that I use as well; in fact, I use all of the methods listed before.

Gaming may not be for everyone, but just because it may not be how you like to enjoy your time doesn’t mean that those who do are lesser people for it. There are cons to gaming but there are also cons to sitting on your couch and watching Netflix for hours at time. Gaming offers its own community and can give gamers a sense of belonging. And with a new Assassin’s Creed coming out this October, I will definitely be relieving my stress with some more trips into the Animus (via my Xbox One).

Ivy Velazquez can be reached at ivy.velazquez@spartans.ut.edu

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