More Than A Game - Our Mental Health and Gaming

Over the last few years there’s been a number of games that have hit home when it comes to the topic of mental health and our overall wellness as human beings. Some games are raw and unapologetic in their approach and portrayal, others are softer and help us heal in gentle ways.

I’d really love to have discussions about how we’re all doing? How do some of us use games to process the real world? Have any of you stumbled across games that you haven’t really been searching for but have wound up showing you that maybe you are going through something?

Of course this is all deeply personal so I would never ask anyone to share something they are not comfortable with but I would love to have discussions about how gaming has helped some of us or even just shown us new and different perspectives on life, relationships, work, trauma and nature.

A personal one for me was Dreams, a game about a musician filled with regret and self doubt who’s constantly running away from the past and present. Although his selfishness that he’s trying to make amends for doesn’t resonate that strongly with me, I really connected with his anxiety and feelings of self doubt and self belief. The emotions in the game are expressed beautifully through amazing visuals and I walked away feeling more in-tune with myself and what I needed to address. Some of the guilt I walked away with from University was that I realised I didn’t want to pursue a career in computer science despite spending tens of thousands of pounds on it and studying it for 3 years, instead I felt drawn to the arts and nature which are things that have always been in my life. Seeing the incredible visuals and witnessing the touching story that had been told inspired me and gave me reassurance that art is powerful, meaningful, and it can change people’s lives. Realising those things helped me shrug off my guilt and allowed me to walk with confidence in the new direction that my life was heading.

I look forward to anyone sharing their own experiences:)


Maybe it’s a bit of a stereotypical answer but one of them is always gonna be “Night in the woods”. It’s probably mostly the period in my life during which I played it aka after dropping out of university but it really hit home. Mae was too relatable with her inability to find purpose and feeling guilt over “squandering” such an opportunity while the people in her small town would love to have what she had. It’s like the days were passing in a blur and despite her going out with friends and trying to reconnect with them, things just still felt wrong until the end. Honestly anyone in their 20s or just anyone whos felt listless and not knowing what the hell to do with their life, will find the game really relatable.

And the other is always gonna be “What remains of Edith Finch” cause besides just being a really great game with such good storytelling, Ediths final words really struck a chord with me " It’s a lot to ask, but I don’t want you to be sad that I’m gone. I want you to be amazed that any of us ever had a chance to be here at all." It’s such a tragic game thats basically about you reliving the death stories of so many people but despite that it’s not nihilistic and negative in the end. More so about appreciating even the smallest of things in life and feeling lucky that you get to experience any of it. It’s bittersweet and in a strange way it makes you hopeful about things.


Thanks for sharing those two games, I’ve seen artwork for Night in The Woods but never knew what the game was called. It sounds very interesting and very relatable to a lot of young adults growing up in a town or area that doesn’t grow with them. Definitely wish listing this (already spent a lot of money this sale).

I have What Remains of Edith Finch on my epic account i think? Or maybe playstation but i haven’t played it yet. I didn’t realise it touched on those themes. It sounds utterly beautiful though. I’m not sure exactly what the story is about but death seems to typically be framed in a negative way, and yet life is always a part of the cycle somewhere along the way. It’s life that is to be celebrated and thankful for, every small moment is precious, and ultimately at the end of that cycle we get peace and closure as we slip away into death.


Perhaps a ridiculous answer, but there’s a NakeyJakey video called “Dark Souls Saved Me,” where he talks about how Dark Souls got him out of a deep depression and gave him a sense of control and meaning in his life that really resonates with my experience. There’s SOOO many video essays on youtube talking about dark souls and depression now, so there must be something to it.

Diving deep into the philosophy behind Dark Souls is what introduced me into Buddhism and existentialism for the first time, which has had a profound impact on my life over the past decade. Seems crazy to say about a video game, but I truly think if I had never played Dark Souls in 2012, I would be broke, depressed, and addicted to something right now.

If I ever get a tattoo it would probably be “Don’t you dare go hollow.” Five of the most profound words in gaming.


That’s exactly how I’d describe part of the main plot actually and it goes bit beyond that cause of the way it explores mental illness as well cause oh boy, the main character sure has some form of it but I wont spoil. Just that the gameplay really reflects all of that in a very interesting way.

Edith Finch is a really unique case to me cause walking sims are usually a bit overlooked by people but anyone whos played it, will tell you it was so damn worth it. Some of the stories the main character walks you through (each with its own unique form of gameplay design) are so gutwrenching, you’d need a moment. And not to mention how good the environmental design of the house is, where the main story takes place. If you are a fan of big houses with lots of secrets and secret passages, and this sort of cluttered and lived in feel? You’ll like this one a lot.


I used to watch a lot of Nakey but sort of skipped his dark souls video because it’s just a genre that never really interested me because of how punishing it is. There’s probably something there in itself to unpack about why I run away from challenges.

It’s interesting to hear that there’s accounts of the game helping people through depression and other problems. Could you talk a bit more about the links to Buddhism and existentialism and how it shaped your life, if you don’t mind? Thanks for sharing what you already have, really fascinating!


Just found out I own Edith Finch on playstation so will be downloading that soon! Thanks!


As a social worker I see this too. It is great that games are starting to understand “mental health” in there plots. Hex even my favorite series halo has mental health in some of the plots.


i discovered Mouth Sweet when i was 11 years old during quarantine. i did not play the game itself until recently, as my laptop resided at my bio father’s and i had a mere tablet, but to say it left an impact on me would be an understatement.

i couldn’t quite articulate it at the time because i was still young and an egg (in the trans way), but despite it taking place in a corporate office, it captured a particular feeling i had doing online school while with my mom, who at the time was at her worst - in my lifetime, that is. i was abused, traumatized, stressed, anxious, and having an identity crisis, and mouth sweet alleviated the pain, even if it was for only a little while. i related to the main character heavily and would constantly draw fanart of her, make amino layouts with other fanart, etc. during a time of constant turmoil, it was my escape, my catharsis. it saved my life.

im much better now and more comfortable in my identity. i’ve also forgiven my mom, because she’s trying her best on a day to day basis, and we’ve come so far since then. i still listen to the soundtrack now and again and i think the game holds up so well. it’s a genuine work of art. it is so, so unbelievably important to me.


That’s a beautiful share, thank you. I’m glad that you had a character and game to relate to and turn to for moments of comfort when you needed it. I can see how important it is to you! It shows how impactful games can really be, even life saving in many situations. Thanks again for sharing your journey and its nice to see you still revisit the soundtrack! I’m also glad that you’re more comfortable with your identity:)