Angry Robot

Video Games as Therapy for Soldiers

Now I know why we get beat on Live so often when we play Halo 3 – there are actual soldiers playing that shit. It’s an interesting article, not really because it talks about soldiers playing games, which we know they do, but because it places it in the therapy context. It’s really only one quote: “video games are a way of calibrating and managing the overwhelming pulses of stress that comes with combat zone living.” Normally that sort of statement gets lost in the noise of the videogames-and-violence debate, but that obviously doesn’t apply to soldiers – or maybe if they didn’t play so many violent games, we wouldn’t have war in Iraq? Yeah.

So are games good for regular people? Do we calibrate and manage our stress by playing them? I think so. Shooters like Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4 are indeed stressful situations, requiring situational awareness, lightning-quick perception, and tranquility in the face of multiple stressors, not just motor skills. They’re almost training for multitasking. And then there’s the quick communication and group coordination required to advance in their multiplayer modes.