Shooting Depression in First-Person
Living in the 21st century as a guy who lost his job 2 years ago and looking for a new one with no luck for several months while fighting off the guilt and shaming from family members as well as the outside world; this is where depression and hopelessness come in.
When all the work you did and investments you made to develop your skills and get your qualifications suddenly appearing to be a waste of time; you just sit and think about a variety of things; even suicide on occasion because everything seems so bleak, empty and hopeless. However, this time, why not forget about the lazy HRs who get paid for doing nothing and instead, venture into the virtual world where YOU are the hero and it's up to YOU to win.
Depression, according to what I heard was always fought with drugs such as Prozac and Selfemra that have side effects along with a little guarantee of success. Nausea, fatigue, and irritability are among those effects according to Arthur Allen of WebMD.com. (2009) However, this time we have technology on our side which allows us to see other sides of ourselves while in a new world, learning new skills and winning on your own merits as opposed to hidden problems that only show themselves at a crucial time.
The first-person perspective arguably is the most immersive in gaming where the action is seen from the player's eyes, therefore, reinforcing the notion that you are in control and your actions mean something more in the context of the in-game world. You are not just playing a character, the character cannot function without your involvement. In a state of depression, one feels his actions don't matter and therefore, causing lethargy and apathy so to fix this, a virtual environment is a good starting point where there is visible feedback on every action; up close and personal. Finally, the games below were chosen not only for their gameplay but for the atmosphere they created through audio-visual elements; like Heroes and Generals title theme below with a calming, melodious overture that resonates with sadness and hope the player experiences.
"Do we get to win this time?"
Heroes and Generals
A World War 2-themed free-to-play multiplayer shooter with combined-arms battles where infantry, tanks, planes and paratroopers fight across big maps. Playing as a US infantryman, I felt that my actions determined the outcome of the battle at hand; helping my teammates in battle with heroic actions when things rapidly change for worse. There are always moments when planes fall from the sky as you dodge machine gun fire when suddenly a team-mate rolls by in a jeep; you jump in and ride straight into danger returning fire with your own ordnance while letting rip a battle cry to make Rambo proud. No match is the same and therefore, I am looking forward to another battle every time I log in to Steam.
Heroes and Generals, to me conveyed heroics of World War 2 and the strength and courage of everyone who fought bravely on the land and sea; the feeling just had me in tears of joy as I charged with my squad where the whole atmosphere was saying "we are with you and will fall with you!" Depression also comes from a feeling of loneliness; when no one cares about you and is always too quick to voice your shortcomings rather than being realistic and addressing the situation from positive and negative sides.
Heroes and Generals, however, gave me a feeling that it's MY skill behind my virtual M3 Grease Gun matters and that I am something more, more than I give myself credit for. Finally, the musical score composed by Jesper Kyd (Hitman series) is moving and inspiring as images of a military march towards the battle appear in my head and not leaving me even after I log out.
Medal of Honor Allied Assault
Another World War 2 shooter, this game still holds up today and runs well on Windows 7 where real historical events such as D-Day are the setting. While Heroes and Generals is about big battles, Medal of Honor is focused on close-quarters combat in urban areas and enemy bases; leaving it up to my wits and reaction time to survive. Using the arsenal of the time (M1 Garand rifle, Thompson sub-machine gun etc) and clearing out an entire base with low health and unfavorable odds is very satisfying.
Cathartic, satisfying gunplay is another feature; facing down 3 armed-to-the-teeth enemies standing still and watching them drop makes me feel like Charles Bronson in Death Wish 3; the feeling that nothing can ever take me down; another assault on a feature of depression when everyone just preys on your weakness and every chance they get use it against you. Medal of Honor made me feel otherwise.
Buy Medal of Honor Allied Assault
Soldier of Fortune and Soldier of Fortune 2 Double Helix
The last game on this list and the only one to be set in our times; this ultra-violent series of shooters are set in the modern world where terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are out of control and the world is on the brink of ending; not far from what we see on the news. The game has you fighting solo across the globe in dark, imposing levels such as an abandoned military base, a vandalized subway, and a butchery. The game is merciless with gore and bullet impact.
However, it is one of the games that does that to my depression as well because with dispatching of dangerous enemies and traversing an imposing atmosphere that if it was real, most people that cause the depression won't ever go there let alone survive. Here, you are the lone hero with the darkness of your own where everyone else is too scared to fight back and you are the only hope.
The second game is even more realistic and imposing with a depressing yet hopeful musical score that has melodious overtures signifying your rise against the modern-day horror. As you play, you become a deadlier and more efficient fighter who takes down most-wanted terrorist leaders like they are nothing. Playing this game for 10+ years, the experiences stayed with me as the game let loose my inner anger and darkness in an equally evil world.
The Soldier of Fortune series is highly realistic in terms of graphics, sound and mechanics, therefore, may elicit a stronger emotional response for it's accuracy to the real world which ties to depression by channeling the negative emotions the player may have in service of goal completion and funnily, social support by leaving the negativity on the virtual battlefield. Freeing hostages in a Swiss airport, infiltrating a drug kingpin's mansion and stalking jungle ruins while using military-grade weapons to dispatch enemies. The player's negativity hence is channeled to create efficient, guerrilla-warfare tactics good enough to be used in Rambo First Blood part 2 when he gets to thinking about how to solve the problem at hand and reach his goal.
Buy Soldier of Fortune 1
Buy Soldier of Fortune 2
The feeling of vulnerability and being alone has a lot to do with depression which then causes apathy and no desire to improve because the notion of a failing fight is conveyed. In a first-person shooter, however, you get more aware of what you are capable of since your accuracy, reasoning and situational awareness gets tested every step of your journey. Winning a battle, therefore, is due to your own ability which a good change of pace from the constant reminder of failure by the real world.
Heroes and Generals
Big, Unpredictable Battles
Teamwork, social connections
Medal of Honor
Fast Run-and-Gun battles
Soldier of Fortune series
Imposing, Immersive mood
Eases stress, anger
Overall, first-person shooters can do a lot to help cope with depression by providing the challenge to reassure confidence and restore faith in yourself to fight on. Had a hard time with people getting you down for no reason? Why not become a hero you were destined to be and test your mettle against a more dangerous foe.The human mind desires a challenge to stay confident and active, therefore, I feel the above shooters have enough of a fight to provide that challenge for the mind to hit back at depression with precision and efficiency.
What Game Genres helped you Cope with Depression or Sadness?
© 2017 Jake Clawson