We all have many reasons to play games. Sometimes we play to engage with a new world, a new story, or a new set of mechanics. Sometimes we play games as part of hanging out with and investing in friends and family. Other times, we play to disengage. Games are part of who we are and how we live our lives, and games leave their mark on us as we learn and grow, even as adults.
Welcome to the Gamers With Hope initiative. In the upcoming months, we will be bringing you stories of how gaming can be a force for positive change. This series will feature posts from GWJ regulars, friends of the show, as well as your stories and ideas.
Forum member John "jdzappa" DeWeese writes, "Together we can drive back the anger and hate that have overshadowed gaming and life in general. I hope that this project gives some hope in comfort in dark times, and reminds us that we can stand as heroes in this world too."
Jdzappa also offers a brief story about how gaming and our community helped him through a rough time in his life.
It’s not something I often share, but gaming helped save my life.
My world had come crashing down. First, I lost my job with almost no warning. As I sent out hundreds of résumés with no callbacks, I had no idea how I would find a new job or care for my wife and toddler.
A few months later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My psychologist explained to me that bipolar is caused by a major chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s often inherited, but severe stress can make symptoms worse. When I was “manic,” I would have feelings of crazy euphoria or supercharged anxiety. I could go for several days with a few hours sleep, and it always felt like my thoughts were racing. Then the depression would come roaring in for weeks at a time. There were times when I would walk down to a nearby bridge and contemplate throwing myself into the swirling strait below.
Over time, I learned that bipolar can be treated just like diabetes or high blood pressure. I take medication and go to counseling. I spend time with my friends, family, and faith community. I try to get enough exercise and sleep while not overeating or drinking.
And gaming has played a surprisingly big role in my recovery.
Roleplaying games like Dragon Age and Skyrim inspired me to keep going, to embrace my inner hero. In the same way that the Dragonborn embodies both mortal frailty and immortal power, I could finally see the positives in my diagnosis. At a time when I struggled to stay present in my marriage, my romance with Dragon Age’s Leliana reflected how much I loved my wife’s beautiful voice, stubborn optimism and unshakeable faith. Quests to rescue children reminded me of how much my own son needed me to stay with him.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much the Gamers With Jobs community helped me through this time. Not only was I able to find a group of kindred spirits, but I also found that many people were going through similar difficulties. I also had a chance to talk honestly and fearlessly about difficult subjects, and to get different perspectives that I had never heard before. Whereas on other forums I felt hesitant to even discuss minor game mechanics, on GWJ I could share deeply personal things and not be shamed for doing so.
Games and our gaming communities may often focus on having fun, but many of us have experienced much deeper values from our gaming. GWJ would like to help tell your stories, and share them with our audience.
We want you to share your thoughts and stories on how gaming can be a force for good. This series will especially focus on how gaming can be more inclusive and diverse, though everyone is invited to take part. We are not trying to endorse any particular political stance, but we do believe that equality and inclusion should be non-partisan issues. Please email your submissions to "Erik" at (this site) dot com!
We understand that the nature of these submissions may be very personal, and may venture into vulnerable territory for authors and others in their stories. We intend to respect that, and protect and support submitters as they feel is appropriate. Feel free also to email or comment if you have any questions or concerns.