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Gaming as Escapism – People use games as distraction technique

46% of respondents said that they found gaming a distraction from the everyday pressures of life

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WePC’s recent study into Mental Health and gaming discovered that nearly half of all respondents found gaming a distraction from the everyday pressures of life.

At a time where we have found added pressures on our mental health, many seem to have used gaming as a form of escapism while in lockdown in order to forget about some of the extra pressures that have been heaped upon us.

These days with many games featuring rich, almost movie-esque storylines with character-driven narratives it is easy than ever to tune into the life of somebody you might be playing as, and, for a short while at least, escape away from what is going on around them.

Several studies have previously looked at using computer gaming as escapism, Gordon Calleja’s study as far back as 2010 concluded::

“Digital games are often viewed as being inherently escapist on two counts. First, they are the shining proponents of cutting edge virtuality, embodying the alluring unreality of something erroneously conceived of existing on the other side of a screen. A second reason for associating games with escapism relates to a common perception of play and games as the opposite of seriousness and work and somehow set apart from the ordinary, everyday life. The paper discusses the nature of escapism and relates it to the above theoretical issues which contribute to a view of digital games as inherently escapist”

Whereas “Previous research has linked escapism to psychiatric distress and gaming disorder in recreational gamers. While esport gamers have many positive motivators like skill development, our study found that excessive immersion by some individuals can indicate mental health issues,” explained investigator Zsolt Demetrovics, PhD, Institute of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.”

WePC Managing Editor and industry veteran Paul McNally said: “It’s easy to come at people using computer gaming as a form of escapism and brand it as dangerous. We think, especially in these unprecedented times, that you need to see it in a different light. If we see that almost half of our respondents say they are playing as a way to forget what’s going on about them in isolation you can perhaps say that, “yes that might not be healthy’, but when you dig further into the research and discover that only 8% believe that gaming has a had a negative effect on their mental health you need to look at the responses in a different light and think, ‘actually, this highlights gaming is beneficial to many, certainly in the current climate.”The WePC survey into Gaming and Mental Health is a part of the work we are doing in this area and the full results can be read here.

Editor - Gaming AT WEPC

Paul McNally

Paul has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. He spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Former champion shoot 'em-up legend