I’m someone who has struggled with anxiety for pretty much my entire life, particularly in the last few years. I’ve also have a deep love for games of all types, and, in an attempt to overcome and live a fulfilling life despite my anxiety, I’ve come to rely on games to help pull me out of the hole I often find myself in.
My first real breakthrough came in 2011 when I picked up Magic: the Gathering after a bad series of “friend breakups.” I have always struggled with social anxiety in particular, and the thought of talking and interacting with strangers, especially with the intent to make new friends, felt overwhelming and terrifying. But, somehow, I convinced myself to try it, and it became a tremendous force for happiness in my life. Having something in common with all of these new people made it infinitely more easy to talk, and the structured nature of games meant I could learn how conversations in matches typically flows and become comfortable with it. These days I have no major problems walking into a new game store in a new town and interacting with people, something that a decade ago would have been unimaginable to me. Most of my friends today I made playing MtG.
Interestingly (at least to me), I’ve continued to struggle a lot with online games and communities. My best guess is the impersonal nature of it, past attempts (failures) to join communities, and the general toxicity of the internet are just too much for me to regularly overcome. Even playing other card games online (my current one of choice being Eternal), I can only handle one or two games at a time before I begin to feel overwhelmed, and the only interaction with your opponent is through emotes. These forums have helped recently, as now I have actually been able to do raids in Destiny 1 thanks to finding some cool people to play with here.
I’m interested in hearing the experience of others who have anxiety of all sorts in relation to gaming as a whole. Do you use gaming to help manage/overcome your anxiety? Do games make it better/worse? How do you handle online game communities? Does the (relative) anonymity of Internet help/hurt in terms of your anxiety? Any tips and tricks for dealing with anxiety online (I could really use them)?
Edit: As a fun side note, making this post has made me incredibly anxious!