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THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

GAMING AND MENTAL HEALTH

Greetings!, I am DrZombie, a member of the JumpCrouch gaming channel on YouTube. You might know me from the Button Bash Bunch podcast where I talk incessantly about From Software's titles, or indeed whatever the topic happens to be that week.

Today however, I would like to talk about the COVID-19 Pandemic, gaming and its positive effect on mitigating mental health issues that undoubtedly arose during lockdown.


I am confident that in saying that the coronavirus pandemic, which is still on going, has been a rough time for many people and in particular those among us who have tragically lost friends and family members to this terrible pandemic.

Before I go on, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all our front-line workers, especially those who work in the medical profession, people who worked tirelessly to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help its victims.

One thing I've learned from the covid lockdowns is that time is a strange thing indeed. When you have a set routine, waking up in the morning travelling to work coming home again and then repeating the process until the weekend hits, you'll barely notice the time going by at all. Unless of course you are currently at the weekend, and then time seems to move extremely fast indeed! I'm fairly certain that we all bear the bad habit of clock watching in work, waiting for the clocks hands or digits to finally hit break time, lunch time or home time..

However, when that routine is completely taken away from you, say in the form of a lockdown, the perception of time and probably more importantly, the meaning and concept of time becomes quite meaningless. As it did for me and likely many others during lockdown.

I never in my life expected to see something like a global pandemic to happen. It’s the kind of thing you read about in books, see in films and tv shows, and often in games. I feel confident in saying that most of us were unprepared for such an event in our lives. Although I'm guessing right about now there is some survivalist sat in a DIY underground bunker, stacked with baked beans and bottled water, shaking his fist whilst proclaiming “I told you so!”.

I can only offer you my experiences during lockdown, though I am sure they probably coincide with many others experiences as well.

The first few weeks were a breeze, a much-needed break from work. But afterwards when the last vestiges of my work routine wore off, something odd started to happen. As the weeks turned to months, time quickly lost its meaning. Minutes, hours, days all seemed to blend into one long unceasing march of time, but curiously it also seemed to stand still.

The first thing that began to deteriorate due to this extended period of isolation was my sleep pattern. As the days begun to blend together, a pervasive insomnia set in. I started to think there was no real reason to get up, so in contrast there was no real reason to go to bed either! My sleep pattern is undoubtedly what suffered the most. Sadly, this sleep issue had a knock-on effect, without a proper routine of waking and resting, a sense of purposelessness fell on me and anxiety soon followed. It was a time of great uncertainty for many folk, anyone familiar with Buddhism would see this as a great lesson to learn about impermanence! In fact, I have a story about being introduced to Buddhism through a game, but that will be saved for another time (or podcast!)


Lockdown was a difficult time, but luckily, I had something to turn to, to help keep me sane: Gaming. Now due to the lockdown I had near limitless free time, so I was thankful that I had my hobby of gaming to turn to. I think again of Buddhism and appreciating the good in the bad. It may seem silly but being able to go back and play through my backlog of games was therapeutic in a sense and helped keep me anchored with a goal. I recall playing through the entirety of Silent Hill 3 and I watched my friend and fellow podcast member Zen, tear his way through every Devil May Cry game there is. After that, I convinced him to try his hand at the Souls/borne franchise and witness him storm his way through a series of games that took me years to learn and complete, in just a few months.

It became clear to me how much my friends and I relied on gaming to help us cope during the lockdown. We had taken to using the social media platform Discord to talk with each other. I attest that Discord itself was a great asset in maintaining a sense of social connectedness during lockdown. Indeed it was because of talking on Discord and gaming together, that I actually made new friends and even reconnected with old ones. Something that sounds quite unlikely to occur when you aren't allowed to leave your house. I firmly believe that it was the social aspect of online gaming that alleviated much of the loneliness and isolation that came with the lockdowns, the idea of chatting online and hearing the voices of your friends and playing the likes of Phasmaphobia, Tabletop Simulator and Dungeons & Dragons helped a great deal in breaking the monotony and gave me and others something to look forward too each day or week.


This brings me to the point of this article. I wholeheartedly believe that gaming has had a positive effect in helping me and many others cope during the covid-19 lockdown. That being said, however, if another wave of lockdowns were necessary, I wouldn't recommend myself or anyone else rely exclusively on gaming as a means to alleviate the stresses of lockdown. A good diet and proper exercise in addition to a hobby such as gaming will reap the most benefits if such a situation were to arise again in the future, which I sincerely hope that it does not.

Again, I would like to express my sympathies to those who lost loved ones and friends during this awful time. The Covid pandemic and everything that came along with it has certainly left a mark on us that will no doubt be felt for years to come.


Thank you for reading and I wish you all good health and good luck!


DrZombie 

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