Grief, Depression, and Healing through Gaming

I’ve read books that handle the topic of mental health extremely well, such as Eliza and Her Monsters. I’d dare say most of us have seem films or TV series, or read books, that touched us deeply and maybe even pushed us toward personal growth and healing. I’d never experienced that with a game before, though, until playing through Gris over the past couple weeks.

Gris is a single-player adventure game by indie developer Nomada Studio, where you play as “a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life.” The game is a “journey through sorrow,” and you help Gris “navigate her faded reality.” In addition to being the character’s name, gris means “gray” in Spanish and that reflects the gray world where you begin gameplay.

I bought Gris after it came up in my Rhetoric of Gaming class (a special topics course I’m taking during this semester of grad school). I expected to enjoy the game, knowing it has a beautiful soundtrack, stunning animation (it’s gorgeous even on my laptop that’s not designed for gaming), and frustration-free gameplay where you’re challenged by puzzles but not worried about running out of time or dying. I hadn’t expected it to move me to tears so many times or make me want to write about mental health.

I suspect one of the reasons Gris resonated so strongly with me is because of my interest in how people talk about mental health in everyday conversation and various forms of media. As my regular readers know, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was about 15, and I also lost a close friend to a car accident seven years ago. Gris pulled all those feelings of hurt, sorrow, and sadness up to the surface, punctuated them with moments of beauty and hope, and handled them with great care.

mild spoilers ahead

Grief, Depression, and Healing through Gaming | LikeAnAnchor.com

One of the things that stood out to me in particular about Gris is that they didn’t fall into the trap of oversimplifying grief and depression. It wasn’t a smooth, easy journey out of despair nor was it something that happened in an overly linear fashion. Most people don’t experience depression or grief as a moment of dull, faded, gray in their lives that grows gradually lighter and lighter until finally the world is set right again. It’s more like what happens in Gris as you travel steadily toward something hopeful and light and good, and you still go through cycles when the darkness comes back and seems ready to devour or choke you. But you do get through it, and even though the marks of when you fell apart are still there you are whole again.

end spoilers

I’d go so far as to say that playing Gris has the potential to be a healing experience, particularly for those who’ve struggled with depression and grief. While it’s no substitute for professional counseling and/or personal healing work, Gris is a powerful example of the potential that games–and art in general–have as a positive force in this world.

Going Crazy Stuck at Home? Here Are an Introvert’s Tips for Making the Most of Social Distancing

As an introvert who works from home, I’m used to being socially distant from people for the better part of each week. For most of us, though, the coronavirus quarantine is way outside our normal way of life. Even many introverts are discovering they miss being around people more than they thought they would. Humans are social creatures, and we all need other people to a certain extent.

For me personally, I know from a week spent house-sitting that I don’t do well if I’m completely isolated for more than a couple days. Thankfully I live with family, so I’m not too terribly lonely even with the quarantine. But I know there are many people who live alone, or who are stuck in situations where the people they live with aren’t safe to be around, or who are so extroverted that just having a couple other people in the house isn’t enough to keep them from going stir-crazy.

Thankfully, your introverted friends have been preparing for just this sort of situation. We’re full of good ideas for how to spend your time when you can’t (or don’t want to) be around other people. Since we’re stuck at home anyway we might as well make the most of it, so here are an introvert’s best tips for how to put your time in social isolation to good use.

Keep In Touch

As I’ve said before, introverts need people too. We all (to varying degrees) need a certain amount of human interaction to keep mentally and even physically healthy. Thanks to modern technology, there are plenty of ways to do that without actually being in the same room as the other person.

Phone calls are a great way to keep in touch. I used to hate the phone, but now I’ve changed my mind just enough that I’m happy to spend hours talking with a few close friends. If you really want to communicate with someone calling is a faster way with more immediate feedback than text or email. But if phones aren’t your thing (or, like me, there are only a very few people you feel comfortable calling), then write a letter or send an email or shoot someone a text.

Read A Book

Reading has long been a favorite at-home activity for both introverts and extroverts. If you have not been hoarding books like the apocalypse is coming and you might be the last library left in the world (I have 1,100+ books on my shelves), then you can order some online, download ebooks, or turn to our local library. Read more

10 Ideas for Introvert Friendly Socialization

Introverts need people. This isn’t something you’ll hear about very often, though. Most of the time, you’ll either hear people who are critical of introverts complaining about how unsociable we are or you’ll hear introverts talking about how much we dislike being around other people.

Humans are social creatures, however. We have different preferences for how much and in what ways we socialize, but we all need other people. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you hate people. It just means that you’re born with a trait that makes you prefer the internal world. It means you re-charge better in quiet, low-stimulation environments, not that you do well in social isolation.

It’s no exaggeration to say that isolation can be deadly. Living in loneliness has a serious impact on our health. In fact, “The increased mortality risk is comparable to that from smoking. And loneliness is about twice as dangerous as obesity. Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease” (“Loneliness Is Deadly” by Jessica Olien). And that’s just the physical health risks. Loneliness also damages our mental and emotional health, often leading to issues like increased stress, depression, and alcoholism (“The Dangers of Loneliness by Hara Estroff Marano).

So what’s an introvert to do? If you don’t like typical social events or groups, how do you avoid the mental and physical health risks of loneliness while also honoring your introverted nature?

This list includes tips for introvert-friendly ways to socialize with other people. Some of these assume you’re trying to meet new people, while others are great for doing with people you already know.

10 Ideas for Introvert Friendly Socialization | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: Dimitris Vetsikas via Pixabay

1) Attend An Interesting Event

It’s not all that difficult to find out about events going on in your local area. Check city websites, Google “local events,” or browse through events on Facebook. There’s bound to be something in the area that interests you and there are often options for small gatherings (like a morning yoga meet-up) as well as larger ones. If you’re at an event that interests you, you have a good chance of meeting people with similar interests and perhaps even finding a local group to join. Read more

What Are Your Favorite Board or Party Games?

"What Are Your Favorite Board or Party Games?" marissabaker.wordpress.comThere’s a stack of games in my closet that rarely get dusted off and used. It’s a shame, because every time we actually play them I’m reminded how much fun they can be. We had guests over Saturday evening, and played Pictionary until 11:30 at night. My brother and I think so much alike that it’s scary — we teamed up and were moving around that game board at super speed. I don’t usually like team games, but Pictionary is one I’ll make an exception for.

Here a few of the other games I like. What are your favorite party and/or board games?

Apples To Apples

This game gets played more often than most in my closet. Every year before Thanksgiving at least one family member will call and remind us that we are not allowed to show up for the family gathering unless we bring Apples To Apples. A large number of people in a wide variety of ages can play, and at family gatherings we even rival the euchre table for enthusiasm and laughter.

Clue

Why my cousin was here over New Year’s, we played Clue while waiting to watch Series 3 Episode 1 of Sherlock.
Known as Cluedo in the UK (which I did not know until I Googled the history of the game), it is a murder-mystery game now available in a Sherlock version. Since we only had an old Clue game from the ’80s tgat I picked up at a resale shop, we made do by re-naming all the characters with Sherlock names (Plum=Sherlock, Scarlet=Irene Adler, etc.).

Lord of the Rings Monopoly

Monopoly in general is a pretty good game, but Lord of the Rings Monopoly is better. There’s fortresses, and Shelob’s lair, and you can buy Bag End and Mount Doom. The little game pieces are so cute. Also, with a version that moves the Ring around the board toward Mount Doom every time someone rolls a 1, the game can have a time limit.

Herd Your Horses

I’m going to guess you’ve probably never heard of this game. Herd Your Horses is a game my mother came across in a homeschooling catalog years ago. There are three game variations. It is easy enough for young children to play but, as we proved before the Pictionary battle on Saturday night, still engaging for older teens and young adults.

Star Trek Trivia

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find people to play Star Trek Trivia with. The version I have covers The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager. It’s perfect for me and my sister since we’ve watched all of those and haven’t seen Enterprise. When we can find people with the same Star Trek watching background, though, it’s fun to play.