Within our military community, the tools of rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans of our nation's wars changes each year.
One of the most popular ways to take a mental break for the post-9/11 generation comes from video games. They've become an interactive hobby that allows you to turn your brain off for a while, focus on the story, and receive positive stimuli as you progress through the levels.
Simple mobile games like Candy Crush reward the players with in-game text that display positive messages or the opposite end of the spectrum; Dark Souls, where the challenge is the reward. These are all benefits in a world where some veterans live in constant fight-or-flight mode.
Many studies have been done on the topic of video games and stress reduction for the general population. Not only stress, but depression, social anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder (mood swings), and substance abuse recovery — all conditions associated with post traumatic stress.
Gaming also provides an outlet for those who suffered brain trauma. Rhythm games like Guitar Hero or puzzle games like Portal are an excellent tool used by Army Therapists to work on and measure progress.
But do shooter games that take place in the setting of modern conflict played by those who fought there help?
YouTuber "Clients Incoming" — an Army combat veteran whose channel is dedicated to digital marketing strategy — said it best. In his video "Treating PTSD with Video Games" he says, "The adrenaline rush of being in the fight, knowing that death hangs in the balance, is not something you can recreate outside of combat."
"More importantly, what I get out of the gaming experience in games like [Battlefield 3] is the team aspect," he adds. "And if you're with a group of guys that know what they're doing and know how to approach the situation tactically and they communicate really well. That's an awesome ride."
Online gaming provides a platform for our veterans to interact with each other again. I'll admit I don't call the guys from my old unit as much as I'd like, but I'm always able to catch them online for a round or two of Playerunknown's Battleground.
Things always pick up just like it was the last day we were all drinking in the barracks together.
What are your thoughts? Do you use video games as a therapy or a way to reconnect with your buddies? Let us know in the comment section.