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Game Fears

Over-developed anxiety can have some odd side-effects. Normally, I'm most anxious about social situations and my issues are not too obvious in other contexts. But sometimes I do have anxiety spill over into gaming, in the form of unreasonable fear of character death.

Games are often designed to build tension, and that works incredibly well on me. It's taken me a long time to really feel capable and willing to play some game genres. I remember trying a demo of Unreal briefly in high school, which put me off just with atmosphere and shock tactics before I even reached the first enemy. I thought escaping the crashed prison ship was cool and interesting, I just couldn't quite overcome my own apprehension.

In Beyond Good & Evil I just started to experience the stealth sections. The enemies are not very smart, and if I'm spotted all I really need to do is run away and hide for a few seconds. It's still early on, and the difficulty level isn't very high. This didn't stop me from becoming somewhat anxious about loading it up again, knowing I've a lot more tense sneaking ahead of me.

It's difficult to predict which games will have this effect on me. Monster Hunter is a very dangerous game, but doesn't trigger much anxiety in me. Bioshock has a lot of atmosphere and is really pushing my buttons, despite death having very limited consequences. I think a lot of stressful games are worth the trouble, and I will eventually get past my issues. Just sometimes it takes me a little while to work up to it.

I do continue to get better at pushing past my anxiety problems. Which is cool, because I was missing out on a lot of worthwhile experiences. I also think there is a level where I don't want to get better at turning off those impulses. I want to be able to feel something and get involved in what I'm playing, and that is currently very easy for me. I am at least very glad of that much, even if it means sometimes having to turn a game off to calm down for a little while.