Role Playing Games: How They Help my Depression

I wanted to write about a favorite subject of mine, Role-playing video games. I started playing Shadow of War this week, and it reminded me how role-playing games were always a great coping mechanism for my depression.

I have played role-playing games since I was a young kid playing Dungeons and Dragons at school with my fellow role-playing friends. It was always a fun and amazing experience, and I still remember going to my friend’s house in middle school for a D & D weekend.

It was around my early middle school years that I first started playing role-playing video games. The earliest one I remember was Diablo and its sequel Diablo II. These were the typical slasher role-playing games but there was still some layer of strategy. Then I discovered a game called Wizardry 8, a turn-based RPG that really changed my life.

Turn base is layering your strategy within the characters allowed in the game. It varies from game to game, and in Wizardry 8 you start with six but can have eight. You always should have a strategy. A tank player who can take damage, a couple of range attackers, a magic attacker, a rogue, a healer, and maybe even another strong frontline strong tank character.

Over the year’s games have gotten better. One of my favorite series (in which I have played every game) is the Elder Scrolls series. This series has even launched into the MMORPG type of game (massive-multiplayer online role-playing game.) MMO’s are so amazing because they always evolving and adding new things to the games like new mounts or events. The downside is that you have to spend a lot of real money in the game. I have played other great RPG series like the Dark Souls series (which each game is one of the hardest games I have ever played) and the Dragon Age series.  Just to name a few.

I have had a long history in playing RPG’s and MMO’s in my life, but this is about more than what I play. These games have always helped me cope when the real world gets too complicated.

I often talk about how depression has been in my life since I was a teenager or maybe even earlier. What appeals to me about role-playing games is that it allow me to escape the real world for hours or days at a time. That escape means the world to me because there have been so many times that I have been confined to my own residence for weeks, months, and even years at a time. (Due to depression or anxiety.)

In a role-playing game, I can be who I want to be, the hero the saves the day. I can make decisions in real time gaming that I would never do in real life. It’s an escape, even just for a moment. Role-playing games and the stories that are presented within the game always gets me. I write for the love of a good story. There so many great stories within the confines of a role-playing game. The characters all have their own story to tell.

There are times where we just want to escape from the reality of life because sometimes life is not easy to get through when you have a mental illness. I get to escape from reality within the books I read but it’s a different rush. I don’t have to do a whole lot when I play a role-playing video game. I have come up with so many levels of strategy over the years that role-playing games are like second nature to me, and I love them because escaping for a few hours is a great feeling.

I am curious about what you use to cope with depression?

While video games have worked for me over the years it is certainly not a cure-all. When I have my depression under control it’s because of varying factors, but video gaming is an important part of the process.

What role-playing games do you play? Let me know in the comments.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Pawel Kadysz

52 thoughts on “Role Playing Games: How They Help my Depression

  1. I used to play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but when I discovered Elder Scrolls, I became even more addicted! Up until they turned into an MMORPG. I loved SPO, because it wasn’t as overwhelming. And I don’t like having to team up with other people. Ironically, it makes me anxious. 😔 Boy, do I miss it. Now I read a TON.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I guess we all engage in role play from time to time. I am currently play a great role playing game, its called Living. I haven’t won yet but I haven’t lost either. I just keep playing. Thank you for sharing.👍😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a horrible gamer. Actually, I am just not a gamer. All I ever manage to do when I attempt to play is piss my brothers off or get them laughing so hard. Role-playing in life, though, I am very good at. I sometimes feel like I am so good at acting anybody else but not so good at being myself.
    Karaoke singing alone in the house and entertaining all the ghosts with my epic dance moves often helps to lift me up if I’m not completely gone.

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  4. I have to say I love how you captured, that video games allow you to escape the real world for hours. I have found myself screaming to just get out of my own head. When video games does also help me pull away from my anxiety/depression. Though sometimes my anxiety increases during game play, I do feel much better. I must get the game console fixed. Thank you for letting us be apart of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Playing RPGs has been insanely helpful for me. When I was really heartbroken many years ago, a friend introduced me to DragonAge, and it genuinely helped me heal by processing things as my character. When the relationship my character had with another one of my party members ended I cried for a whole evening, but I actually felt better afterwards (about both my real world relationship, and the one in the game). Also achieving little things in the game actually gives me hope I can achieve things in the real world, Skyrim is AMAZING for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Skyrim is truly one of my favorite RPG games. Just the gameplay, creating your character and building it from the ground up. I love getting lost in the worlds of my video games just so I can process life. I will always play video games.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ironically, I use my PlayStation to do the exact same thing. It allows me to get away for while. I used to feel guilty for do so because of my age,but I don’t it stop me. Because I still tend to responsibilities I have in real life and I just use it to help. At first I used to suck at most of these games, know I’m becoming better as time goes. Does a lot for my self esteem because I use this in comparison to real life. I look at it this way, if I can conquer this games I can conquer stuff in real life…

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  7. RPG’s are excellent for coping with depression! The Zelda series isn’t quite the traditional RPG, but I loved to get lost in Breath of the Wild when the going was tough earlier in the year. Been a gamer myself for over 20 years, so it’s always something I can turn to!

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  8. Reblogged this on London Gamer and commented:
    I’ve never really thought of my gaming in this kind of depth, I thought of it as a good escape from the hustle and bustle of life, but never really thought about how much it could help my mental health. Having played video games for the best part of two decades, I realise now that maybe gaming is what keeps me sane and away from the edge. I always notice my mood decreases and I struggle more when I have gone long periods without my escape. Equally, in all of my relationships I’ve not been able to game as much because my partner has never really understood why I play video games, and as the relationship has soured I would go back to gaming more and more (fulfilling a cycle but equally saving and storing my sanity in this alternate universe).

    I’m reblogging this, but I have no idea what that means, so I hope it works out!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: The Masks we Wear in Our Mental Illness – The Bipolar Writer

  10. Fantastic post indeed gosh I still remember playing FF4 it was the first ever rpg I played, being shy and from the country is a bad mix, but being the different characters that game had, not sure how but it had me be free, awesome post really can relate


  11. Great article! I suffer from depression as well. Gaming, watching Movies, reading Comics, and playing Fantasy Sports help me escape the rough times life smacks me with.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Gaming: How Role Playing Games are Mood Changers (A Guest Post by J. E. Skye) – Fistful of Glitter

  13. Whenever I’m feeling blue I sit down for a nice JRPG. You always know what to expect and while the story is often bobbins, they are enjoyable in their own way. I’ve not been able to play an MMO in many years – although does Destiny count?

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Reblogged this on The Bipolar Writer and commented:

    This was a favorite blog post of mine, it is especially important to recently as I have been using gaming as a coping tool over the last week. I started playing my favorite turn-based role-playing game called Dragon Quest 8. It’s an amazingly infuriating game that doesn’t tell you where to go next, no real quests direction but there are quests. It reminds me so much of Dark Souls. Anyway, enjoy this special post about how gaming helps me get through my depression.


  16. I never would have thought of gaming. That is probably why a lot of youth do it. I had no mechanism to cope, I didn’t tell anyone, until I was almost 30. Once I got on medication and started researching stuff, I started the positive thinking thing. I figured out how to make hat work for me but without meds it never would have worked.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I play Savage Worlds (currently a Supernatural High School setting in Massachusetts) and getting ready to start a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The two tabletop games I’ve played the most are Vampire and Pathfinder though there have been many more. Video games wise I am playing a lot of Diablo 3 since there is a lot of new content and ‘seasons” to gain new items. It is a favorite in my house.

    I certainly use games to help with my depression. Once, during a downswing, my mother even asked me if I’d played anything recently. It has been an escape for me since the Commodore 64 days and finding tabletop RPGs has been a great help. The fantasy of it, the stepping outside of myself and being someone else without going off the deep end has been incredibly helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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