Can you think back on your favorite childhood game? Whether it is a video game, physical activity, board game, etc. bring that game to mind. For this exercise, we are going to go through this with choosing a video game. Let’s think about it for a few seconds; can you hear the music? The ground crunching under your character’s feet? Can you remember the introduction/load screen music? What do you notice about yourself as you recall this? Check in with your physical sensations that your body is trying to communicate to you as you think of this game.
I can share, that I continue to get goose bumps at the load music for a PlayStation 1 from 1995. Or when you continue your game from Lion King on Super Nintendo in 1994 and Rafiki reminds you “The king, has returned.” These are fond memories of mine from my childhood, which was spend playing video games every chance I could get. This also is an important aspect of returning myself to a resource, where I can better manage my stress of the day, an activating event, or even Southern California traffic.
But what is a resource? Well, let’s go that video game that you were thinking about at the beginning of this post. Answer these clarifying and intensifying questions for yourself; What was the name of the game? What system was it on? Can you remember the first time you played? Did you play with someone? Can you identify the different sounds the game made (for example, the classic “umph” your character made in Doom when trying to open secret doors)? Is there a certain routine you had to complete before you played (i.e. a certain drink, food, or blowing on cartridges)? Is there a place or level that you frequently visited?
Now what? We have the game, sounds, sites, favorite places in the game, and what do we do with that? Notice what is going on with your body, goose bumps, increased heart rate, sitting at the edge of your chair, sitting back, shoulders relaxed, or a funny feeling in your stomach. I know for myself, when I play Breath of the Wild, I get tears in my eyes. I feel butterflies in my stomach whenever a certain song plays in the game, and I could run in the fields all day listening to the sounds, watching the grass move in the wind. But if we could play games all day, then we probably wouldn’t be able to hold jobs, get our school work done, and our responsibilities would begin to falter. This is my favorite part of resourcing, you can carry it with you no matter where you go, if you are at work, school, or don’t have an outlet to plug in to that’s okay. This is a memory, a thought, which I can return to at any point of my day, to remain in a space where I can feel like I can continue to manage my day. Sometimes just recalling the memory is not enough and I will turn to the internet or my music library to pull up that games soundtrack. Through my practice in resourcing, I can return to that point in the game, and it feels as though I am playing right now, thus returning me to a place where I can continue to manage.
This can also be a beneficial tool to use with teens, kids, and young adults who might have a difficult time communicating. There is a stigma against video games, and an unfortunate one at that. Whether it be the “nerd” stigma, the “violent games breed violent kids” stigma or the “consume your time” stigma, it creates a negative connotation on games that could actually help youth communicate. In writing this article I become giddy and could write for hours about my love of games, the titles I have played over and over, the ones I dream of playing, and how games have brought me a large community of friends. There are many articles attempting to debunk the stigma of games, and even large game companies such as Blizzard are attempting to raise the gamer’s voice. Being a therapist, one of my favorite relationship building activities is discussing favorite games. Through this activity, we can play the game together, look up YouTube videos, or listen to the soundtrack together, which in turn is building your resource as well as your relationship with therapy.
The passion that is behind a favorite game is unmatched. Glittering eyes, leg movement, actively using hand movements to act out being surrounded in a dungeon, or swarmed by zombies, and having someone actively listening and being interested in that aspect of one’s life. I am not saying go read up on every popular game, study mechanics, and become a gaming master. I am just saying, listen, ask questions, be interested and amazing things can happen.