Video games have been in our environment for an extended period of time at this point. The average gamer age is in the 30s (ESA, 2013) and appears to be getting older. However, with children also playing video games at this point, it is also important to understand what they can teach us or what the individual is learning from playing these games.
I say this because I believe they can be used as a method of looking at the individual via the lens of the video game characters and their mythology. As I have stated before, mythology is rampant in our current culture with everything you can think of stemming from a mythological reference. What I mean by mythological is there is a story behind it, a tale that can entice even the least interested individual. With the understanding of the myth, you can begin to appreciate and look at the same object with new reverence.
Now, in video games, there are many different genres and characters to play in virtual worlds. They entice us with death defying stunts or the ability to be in a way or adventure without actually taking harm. Most of the current public eye is focused on a few studies that point out the negative aspects of video games (which I will point out SCOTUS and other courts have ruled them to be biased and critically incomplete) without the ability to think for themselves, or in most cases do not know that they can. Today’s post is about the ability to use video games to understand what is happening in an individual intrapsychiclly and in their household.
Many individuals are interested in playing video games in which they can be a stealth character and some high school students have become enthralled with this style of play.
When asked about what they get out of this style of play they say they feel empowered that they can be (1) a character who is powerful than themselves and (2) play the game as not being seen in the beginning, but able to be devastatingly dangerous in the game. Curious as to the reason why they pick these reasons to play the games they do. Also a great question that is not being asked of these individuals, we are instead labeling them as angry or they dissociate because of the games they play.
When asked about these characters, what they bring to the table of the individual, and how they see themselves in the game; we get some interesting answers. For instance, when asked what they are feeling while playing the game the usual answer is that they feel they can do anything and be seen within the game. I find this to be a very important point in working with individual who is playing video games. To be seen for who you are is an obstacle that many adolescents have problems with growing up in different family dynamics.
What would you yourself do to be seen in a place where you do not feel that you can voice your opinion? Many different ideas come to mind from acting out to playing games for myself, but everyone is different in how they react to their social and other environments.
Going back to adolescents playing these games is the important part of this post as this is where the true work comes into play (pun intended). Further asking into this is the right idea as it can pan out more important details about the individual and their playing styles. So to continue on with the example; where do the high schoolers not feel seen in their lives. Some of them say at home, school, or with their friends. It is further important to ask the individual further what they may mean by this. This allows a deeper understanding of how the characters they play may mythologize or show what they may be missing in their lives and can be worked with.
Not being seen in the family or other areas of life can be quite defeating to the individual if not handled properly and should be looked at how we can work with the information in a positive light. Most people would tell them to stop playing these video games and follow what their family/social environment wants. This is not truly seeing the person for the difficulties they may be having or validating their own experiences. I would be more inclined to see how the person could be seen or why they don’t feel seen in the different environments to fully understand the individual. Their experiences are valid and are meant to be understood, not changed.
That’s an interesting point I’ve also mentioned on my blogs, I feel that this player empowerment aspect of video games is a form of healing. Although I wish you would have elaborated how specific video game characters have helped individuals, and example I’ve discussed was how playing Ocarina of Time has helped an anti social teenager open up to his family.
I would love to have gone into more detail, but the examples are from current clients I am seeing and with confidentiality issues makes it quite difficult to discuss it a little more on a blog. I love to hear that other individuals are using video games in a similar fashion and applaud you for doing this! We need more people to do this.