I have played video games since I was old enough to hold a controller in my hands. My dad is a gamer himself, and it is as they say: like father, like son. Video games were always a part of my life, and they were something that I did for fun when I was younger. Then, when I hit my teens, my life took an unexpected turn.
When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder.
It is a disorder characterized with hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thought and speech. It also carries symptoms of Bipolar and Manic Depression. I was hospitalized because of it.
Dealing with my illness in there was difficult, but something really did help. My parents would bring me gaming magazines, such as EGM (Electronic Gaming Monthly) and PSM (PlayStation Magazine). I valued these magazines tremendously. I read the previews of different games and the reviews (Ninja Gaiden was on of the titles that I remembered), and anticipated playing these games when I got out (I loved Ninja Gaiden). Just knowing these games were waiting for me when I was released kept me going. It gave me something positive to look forward to when I went home.
Even after the hospital, things were tough.
I was still struggling as I dealt with my illness. I was adapting to therapy and the medication. I was having trouble being social, and was almost relearning being around people other than my family.
Yet through all of this, one of the things that kept me calm and helped me get through my down periods was video games. It was a great release, and it helped distract me and comfort me. It got my mind off of things, and relaxed me enough to help deal with everything that was going on.
When I started making friends again, or talking to older friends, they were people who also enjoyed video games, and we would talk and play together. In a way, I was able to readapt to society because gaming had become a big part of our society. Gaming had helped heal wounds, and helped bring back to what some could call a normal life.
Just recently, I celebrated 10 years of successful treatment.
I have had my ups and downs over the years, but I have been out of the hospital and have reacted well to treatment. While video games have done a great job in helping me get through, I am not the only one.
According to an article by CNET, in a survey conducted by Information Solutions Group, it was found that 20% of the casual game audience are disabled gamers. These are gamers with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities, and 94% of these gamers feel that games had a positive effect on them. 10% of these gamers said that their medical professional had prescribed playing casual games as a part of their treatment.
I can truly say I do not know what I would have done without video games.
For some of us, gaming is more than a hobby and is a true way of life. It took me from a very difficult time in my life into something better. Gaming helped me fight through the toughest time of my life and in a way helped save me. I can truly say I do not know what I would have done without video games.