If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s the important need for reliable, healthy human connection. The world has become disjointed and people have become disconnected from each other due to social restrictions. We live our lives thinking only about ourselves and the people immediately around us. We may be aware of other people in the world but, while we may not harbor any ill-will or anger towards those people, we don’t view them as a priority in our lives or feel connected to them. We may think about how their country is different from ours, how their religion is different from what we believe, and about how they do certain things better or worse than us. It doesn’t matter if we still value them as humans and people. Even if we respect their differences in opinions and beliefs, we are still viewing them as distant from us, as if they exist in another world.
Dire Consequences of Selfish Thinking
Several threats of war, a global pandemic, and more have all surfaced, in part, due to our reluctance to connect with other people. We allow ourselves to find comfort in our digital world instead of building the proper relationships in real life. This is why stories about building these social bridges are so important, especially for the next generation. Now is the time for us to assess our mistakes, learn where we went wrong, address why we made the decisions we did, and grow from them. Luckily, we have some examples of how to learn and grow. Specifically, video games.
Video Games can offer a form of storytelling that is far more interactive than a television show or movie because you are actually involved in playing the game. There are two games currently available that address the connection component that is currently lacking in our society. These games give us the messages we need to make a better world and potentially foster better mental health.
Stranded, But Not Alone
Last year, iconic creator, Hideo Kojima, released his first original IP in years: Death Stranding. This game was a little divisive, as it focused more on the themes and messages of its narrative rather than diverse gameplay. As a result, the game is completely embedded in its thematics and some people just weren’t ready for that kind of experience. But when approached with an open mind, the game engages you in a beautiful story of connection. Taking place in a U.S. devastated by an apocalyptic event and desperate for connection, you take the role of a man chosen to help, literally, build bridges and roads between cities. This is the narrative crux of the game, and it takes you on a crazy, bizarre, and abstract journey that only Kojima could take you on.
Its story is rich in metaphors. The way that your building of structures and delivering of goods to other cities has a direct influence on the world around you is a powerful reminder of what the game is trying to convey. As you play and build structures, those buildings will appear in the worlds of other players, meaning that your accomplishments can directly help someone else playing the game. You can even “call out” occasionally in the game, and if there are players in the same area in their own game, they can respond to you. It’s a moment where you can’t see them, but you know they are there, and you know you are not alone. For those who have felt the sharp sting of loneliness, that reminder that we are not alone is powerful and vital to remember, even in a virtual world.
This past spring, we got a new entry in the popular Animal Crossing series. This game is more or less a life simulator, with players building and managing their own island towns and livelihoods. The thing that stands out in this game, though, is how it encourages building meaningful friendships and connections with both non-playable characters and other online players. As you build a positive relationship with someone, you can accomplish more things in your world, build more towards a common goal, and create a better world to live in. It may seem like a family-friendly, fun way to escape for a bit, but, ultimately, it is also teaching us the importance of positive connections and how they can benefit us greatly in life.
Many who deal with mental illness need help to reinforce their knowledge that these relationships through gaming can help them so much. As the world continues to endure what is happening all around, these kinds of games and their messages are paramount to building a better society for all of us by having us participate in activities together and thus reinforcing the importance of connection. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction–even the utilization of using video games as a form of alternative treatment. Loneliness doesn’t have to be an obstacle to your successful rehabilitation. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]