Each week, we interview an expert on issues that we see couples discuss the most. This week, we are excited to feature Melanie Manipod, LMFT. Melanie is a Marriage & Family Therapist in California and also a gamer. It’s fitting that she shares her thoughts on how video games, when done right, can actually contribute to relational satisfaction & mental health. She helps individuals and couples find a way to transform their relationships and their lives. You can read more about her on psychology today or on her instagram @therapyseedsmft.
Why Video Games Can be Good for Your Mental Healthy AND Your Relationships:
A therapists view on connection through technology.
True or False…Video games are healthy for relationships. I respect any reaction that comes to your mind, as I know we all have our unique experiences & biases on the matter. The purpose of this post is to share my perspective. Thank You Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT @phillycouplestherapist for requesting I contribute a guest post with my thoughts on video games and relationships.
True. Video games are healthy for relationships when partners treat each other with respect and comraderie, for mutual fun in balanced doses. Conjoint gaming sessions can serve as a space for play and story telling; especially when the nostalgia lure is activated via classic games such as Mario, Zelda, or Sonic the Hedgehog (my personal favorite). Much of gaming is designed to be a social activity; and sociality has positive effects on mental health, wellness, and adventure.
For example, my partner and I attended a national video game convention last year called Summer Games Done Quick #SGDQ2018 (adventures archived in my story highlight titled, “SGDQ2018”). Games Done Quick takes place at least twice a year where speed runners from around the world gather to play video games for charity. 100% of proceeds raised go to charity. SGDQ2018 earned over 2 million dollars towards Doctors Without Borders! I was in awe of the speed, skills and strategy of each gamer, but what stunned me the most was their personal stories. Society often portrays video games as negatively influencing a false reality or violent outlet for the stereotyped “low-life who lives in the basement”. It was refreshing and humbling to hear participants publicly and proudly sharing how video games and speed running saved their life, and prevented them from committing suicide. It gave them a reason to live and a community to socially engage with. My partner and I met people who shared how working towards breaking a world record enhanced their mental health by lifting their depression, conquering their anxiety, alleviating grief after losing a loved one, and overcoming limitations that a physical disability can cause. The positivity and sense of community I felt was inspiring and contagious, and has remained a healthy source of conversation & connection between me and my partner.
A healthy self elicits healthy relationships and methods of coping. While some choose to unwind and de-stress by working out, binging on reality shows, reading a book, and journaling (I also engage some of the above), my partner and I sometimes choose to play a video game together. Our current choices include “Need for Speed” for adrenaline boost competition, “Cadillacs & Dinosaurs” arcade game “beat-em-up” to release some steam, and various puzzle/adventure games to motivate teamwork and brain stimulation. Despite the fictional characters, our authentic selves benefit from the interplay of real life issues and dynamics of our relationship: communication, patience, frustration tolerance, and how to respond gracefully, when one partner wins. Every moment is a opportunity for growth, and for me and my relationship, that includes moments well spent with video games.🏼