Posted September 14, 2013 by Ashton Graves in Editorial

Depression and Video Games


See that little guy adorning the top of this post? He’s normally known to be cute, fun, and happy. Lately that guy has been me. If you’ve followed any of the writing I’ve done over the last almost ten years for more than a few places on the internet then you know my articles are usually full of sass, sarcasm, and serious opinion. Over the course of the last three weeks I have had a case of what I originally thought was writers block that instead turned out to be full blown depression. It’s not often that I write an article that is without jokes but I wanted to give you guys an insight into what has been going on with me and what I’ve been doing that has actually helped.

In the last three weeks I have gone through almost one hundred different drafts of 20 different articles. I would write them, love them, and then crumple them into tiny virtual paper balls to go into the trash because I couldn’t stand them five minutes later. Originally, as I said before, I thought the was just a really bad case of writers block but I quickly realized that it was not. I have been diagnosed and living with Bipolar Disorder type II for almost my entire life. If you don’t know anything about it, it means I am a ball of extreme emotions that can switch from one end of the spectrum to the other in 2 seconds flat. It also means that what are normal “funks” for most people can become weeks if not months of depressions for me if I don’t pull myself out of it quickly. With that said, I’ve been fighting off a slippery slope of depression for about a month now.

I know those feels, bro.

Most people would assume that you’re just a little bit sad and that it’s okay you’ll snap out of it and be fine in a couple of days. For people like me that isn’t really how it works. If I don’t snap out of it immediately or force myself to avoid the slide into depression I will get stuck in it like quicksand. But it’s more than just being sad or self loathing. Falling into a depression comes with a lot of great side effects which may or may not include: anxiety attacks, rage, migraines, body ache, paranoia, constipation, constant drowsiness, lack of motivation, and more. If you sign up now we’ll also throw in a horrible self image and extremely low self esteem as a free gift with no extra charge. You pay shipping and handling. No CODs accepted.

I have been an absolute mess for the better part of three weeks. All I’ve done is go to the gym, go to work, come home, and sleep. Sounds awesome right? Wrong. Because of all this crap I’ve been putting on the happy mask in public and really phoning in everything I’ve done lately. At work I had days where I locked myself in my office and did everything remotely. I didn’t talk to anyone that wasn’t over the phone and I didn’t eat lunch. I went in at 8 am, suffered through the hours, and left at 5 pm. But let’s get to the flesh and blood of this article. Let’s dig down deep into the guts of it so I can tell you what helped me get out of this quicksand of depression.

Video Games.

Specifically one video game.

THIS video game.

I shit you not. Banjo mother fucking Kazooie saved my life. I can almost hear you laughing right now because you think I’m writing a parody article that the onion would post but let me assure you: I’m not joking. This is a 100% ┬áreal statement. Over the course of the last week I have played and successfully toppled one to two stages of Banjo Kazooie a night with 100% completion and it made me feel really, really good. Not just good about being a gamer but good about myself. This lead me down the road of thought which came down to one question and one question only:

“Why does this game make you feel better?”

At first I had absolutely no rhyme or reason for this. I could chalk it up to nostalgia value or maybe the fact that I was breezing through a game that my mind seemed to remember as so much harder than it actually was but after a couple days of thinking I finally figured out what the answer was. It struck me right in the face randomly and I felt stupid because it was a lot simpler of a reason that I was trying to make it with all the over complication my adult brain was adding to the mix.

This game is fun.

That was it. This game is fun. It is simple, creative, and fun. In a world where we base our video games on being immersive story events or incredibly hard games that make you want to smash your face on a brick wall when you die this game was 15 years old and full or pure unapologetic fun. It didn’t need an amazing story line or challenges that would force you to start back where you were 3 hours ago with all progress lost. It gave you a bear bird bros that just wanted to go on an awesome adventure to save a sister and kill the witch. There is nothing complicated about that. The humor in the game might be on par with that of a 4th grader’s comprehension level but if you can’t laugh at the silly jokes then you are dead inside. You are the soulless husk of a person wandering around waiting for the next copy of Shoot Shoot Run 14: Black Undercover Seal S.W.AT. Force edition.

This is the game you are waiting for. It is bad and you should feel bad.

So in knowing how awesome this game was I whipped out the N64 because I had been playing Banjo on Xbox as it was released on Live a few years back. I had to find out if this was a pattern of games at the time and we had just moved far away from the idea that games can just be fun or if maybe this was a fluke. I broke out the old game case and started playing to diagnose these games. Mario 64, fun. Conker’s Bad Fur day, fun. Pokemon Snap, FUN. What the hell is going on here? All of these games are simply fun. They don’t have amazing stories or great graphic but that still doesn’t stop me from enjoying them in a way that I find is a feeling a lot of games now can’t give me. To be fully honest, it is a possibility that, for me, it’s nostalgia taking over but I can’t make that call completely. I would suggest that the next time you get in a funk or a depression you go dig up one of your old consoles that you used to love and just start playing games on it. You might actually be shocked to find that it will make you feel a lot better.


TL;DR: I was really depressed and an N64 game made me feel a lot better.


I just wanted to add this picture because reasons.

Ashton Graves

The biggest all around Nerd you'll ever meet. I'm internet famous (see http://www.siradio.fm ) and I'm an avid lover of comics, movies, games, and music. I'm a little bit angry and probably a little bit biased but I will always give you something to think about.