I started to feel the absence of our spring break at the beginning of March — I was fatigued, overwhelmed, and wanted more than anything a couple of days in a row to relax. The two “wellness days” offered as a substitute were simply work days for upcoming deadlines. I felt unimportant and like I didn’t matter to my school. During the week of the wellness days, my roommates left to visit family. I was alone in my apartment, filled with stress and worry about school.
On the weekend they left, I began to browse our various game consoles for something to distract myself — I was really trying to take care of my mental health. While on the Xbox, I came across Skyrim. I had seen my roommates play a bit before, and the game seemed complex and like it had a large story. I was reluctant to get myself into a massive project like that. Despite my doubts, I booted up the game. I was greeted by the company logo — Bethesda — and soon began to hear the passionate and battle-ready song known as Dragonborn. As the battlecries of the Nords filled the room, I created a new game.
I was instantly immersed in the storyline — dragons were attacking the world and only I had the potential to stop them. However, there were many other elements of the game that I was also interested in — gathering ingredients and making potions, using a two-handed battleaxe, and the stories of the non-player characters (NPCs), to name a few. My purple lizard protagonist Anoxia quickly gained levels, power, and skill.
Throughout the month of March and April, Skyrim gave me new excitement and interest. I no longer focused only on school and what work I had the next day. I had something to look forward to at the end of each day, and it really kept me going. Just knowing I had another storyline outside my own story of endless assignments reminded me that life was more than this work-riddled pandemic. For that, I am forever grateful.
Now, as finals approach, I know that there is something waiting for me when I’m done. While it may seem silly to be motivated by a video game, it makes the difference for me when I’m barely staying afloat. In a semester of feeling like my voice didn’t matter and like my professors didn’t care, Skyrim was there to both listen and respond.
If you are finding yourself feeling unmotivated and uninspired, perhaps an immersive video game could support you. Some great titles that come to mind are any of the Pokemon games, the Legend of Zelda series, or even Minecraft if you want a more self-guided experience. In addition, you could check out the other Elder Scrolls games (Skyrim being the latest), such as Oblivion.
Regardless of what sorts of experiences motivate and immerse you, it’s important to have at least one, especially during these chaotic and tiring times. It’s been so easy to place mental health aside, and video games or other experiences help to bring self care back into focus.