For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved gaming. From my first memories of playing on my Gameboy Colour; going on an adventure with my very own Pikachu, to today, playing online and  bantering with friends, gaming has always been something I’ve loved doing. Not only are they fun and exciting to play, they have very real benefits especially for your wellbeing.

Despite often getting a bad rep in the media, gaming has loads of benefits to people’s mental health and wellbeing. Gaming for many is a release, a way to escape their problems and be someone else for a while. For others, it’s a way to stay connected or to make friends and connections all across the world. It’s undeniable the positive impact gaming has in a world, where stress is rampant and communities don’t mean as much.

No matter the genre; shooter, sci-fi, fantasy or even a simulator, gaming transports you to another world (sometimes quite literally) where you can leave the day-to-day behind, where you can ‘log-in’, switch off, and enjoy a game with your friends after a long day.

For me, gaming lets me forget about anything going on around me and relax, only focussing on the goal of the game. Whether I’m a soldier in an alien war, or a simple pirate trying to get rich, and look good while doing it, nothing else matters. Stressful day at college? Deadline in work coming up? Dad doing my nut in? Saving the world lets you forget about all of that for a while.

Personally I find action games with good stories a good way to wind down. The same way as people find books relaxing, getting lost inside a game with great stories and characters has the same immersive effect, with the action being a good way of releasing any built-up tension. For others, strategy games might relax them as the pace is often up to the player, and for some non-confrontational games like ‘The Sims’ or ‘Stardew Valley’ help people de-stress with their calm atmosphere.

I’ve also made friends who I would otherwise never have made through gaming. While towns, villages, and streets used to be what community meant, for many, online gaming is their community. This sense of community helps people who struggle with loneliness and boosts wellbeing through connections and teamwork. As someone who can be very awkward while making friends, I find it very easy talking to people and making connections online. I feel like there’s a lot less pressure on things like looks because it’s all through a headset.

Today’s world has a lot of factors that can cause stress: like money, jobs, housing, education, social media, and many more. It’s no wonder many people use gaming as an escape from these issues.

Overall, gaming has a very positive impact on people’s wellbeing. It has been shown to improve the lives of people dealing with depression, anxiety, ADHD and PTSD to name a few. While it’s important to live life in the real world,, the virtual one is a good escape when life gets too much. I think it’s about time people stop viewing games in such a negative light and start realising the massive positive impact it can have on people’s wellbeing.

Here’s a link to an article I read about gaming and wellbeing in case you’d like more info!