Anxiety and Video Games

The other week I was getting ready for bed whilst Kris played Far Cry 4. I ended up watching him play for a bit. But when we tried to go to sleep, I started to get anxious that I was going to have nightmares about Far Cry - more specifically its trippy hallucinogenic sequences and the prison camp mission. Then I started to think about it more and realised that my anxiety affects my relationship with video games.

I'm not the biggest gamer in the world, but I do love video games. If I don't play something, I'm quite happy to watch someone else. As I write this, Kris is playing on his PC and I'm absent-mindedly watching over the top of my laptop. I have always watched playthroughs on Youtube, and grew up going to an after school club where we used to sit around a Playstation One and take turns on Rayman/Crash Bandicoot/Spyro etc.

When I talk about anxiety and video games, I'm not referring to the games that are purposefully meant to be scary - Amnesia, Slenderman, Outlast, for example - I'm talking about the 'normal' games, especially first person ones. If the camera angles are in the first person, I get way too immersed and if the story has suspense in it, I get stressed out.

I don't really have any problems if I'm playing whilst someone else is present, but if I'm on my own I either lose interest very quickly or get a little bit too anxious. Anything that involves being stealthy is just not my cup of tea. I think I have anxiety about screwing up, so feel under massive pressure to complete the mission without things going wrong. That even extends to games that don't necessarily make me anxious, like Civilisation V, because I get tense if another civilisation starts plotting their attack (only if it's the CPU though, for some reason I don't mind if it's an actual person). In games like Grand Theft Auto or Simpsons Hit and Run (they need to reboot that already), I get anxious if there's a race mission because I don't want to screw up and restart the race a thousand times.

Shooter games are a different story. I don't have a huge love for them, but they don't seem to make me anxious. Probably because I know that I'm kind of crap at them! I have always been terrible at anything like Call of Duty or Battlefield, and therefore have little interest. I enjoy things like Left 4 Dead and Star Wars Battlefront, but those are the kinds of games that're more interesting when played with other people.

But there are still a lot of titles out there for people who get anxious whilst gaming. I'm quite happy to play the Lego games, Sims game or city builders, and anything on my DS is a safe bet. I think I'll just have to stick to watching someone else play if it's Far Cry or Witcher, as long as it isn't just before bedtime!

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