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Does Playing First Person Shooter Games Affect You?

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by SGT Bilko, Apr 14, 2009.

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  1. SGT Bilko

    SGT Bilko Active Member

    I'm an OEF/OIF vet and I used to love playing first person shooters. I was young and they were fun. Now I can be alright while I play them. In fact, I feel a little better than alright. It sounds cheesy but there is somthing about the rhythmic thumping of a machine gun that is almost soothing. Its like what the world is suppose to be. Its not until after when I'm "wired" that the problem occurs. It ques up all the hypervigilance and as it has been described to me: my eyes glaze over and I'm no longer the same person.

    So as the old saying goes: "Dr., it hurts when i raise my arm above my head." The Dr. Responce. " Then don't raise your arm above your head." Would it that it was that simple. I feel like if I don't play these games that I'm letting PTSD win. Thats somthing that I simply cannot do. Maybe its even some part of me deep down inside that is saying " This shooting and exploding is normal and the college you attend is the game"

    Anyway, do i let it win or do I try and find out a way to enjoy somthing that I loved in a past life. Is my life FOREVER ruled by PTSD? Do I have to treat it the same as if i lost a hand. In respects to everything I would do would change at some level? If there is anyone out there a little further on in treatment or just knows from experience, please let me know. I'm lost.


    P.S. I must sound like an Idiot- lets recreate the thing that traumatized you. thats super smart!
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  3. joshybumboshy

    joshybumboshy New Member

    hi SGT bilko. this is my first post and i would like to say i understand what your saying. i love first person shooter games whether its from counter-strike to Call Of Duty. when i play first person shooter games it's actually MY therapy. im really relaxed when i play and i think it's because its been a hobby of mine and your mind is concentrating on something else. dont feel bad about it because it's cool. games can be therapy and first person shooter games are ours :)
  4. fin

    fin I'm a VIP

    ok so I am reading this too and I this is not my first post LoL not by any means, So, sorry guys I am PTSD also, and want in on this understanding. So I have a question, maybe a dumb question I know; but what are you talking about? Please could you explain to me and I am putting myself out there asking- so be gentle please hah!!! I do not understand some stuff ok.

  5. Blues in NYC

    Blues in NYC Active Member


    He's talking about a certain genre of video games. First Person Shooters tend to be fairly immersive. The game usually only portrays your hands or a bit of a weapon and you run around shooting and blowing things up. Some people get very serious about this sort of game (like when folks take a pickup game of soccer/football far more seriously than the average park attendant) while others seem to take it as if they were a bunch of kids running around with nerf weapons shooting soft plush stuff at each other giggling the whole time.

    Back to the OP: I can't play intense stressful video games anymore. But I've been playing City of Heroes--a fairly easy, cartoony massive multiplayer game with room for light bits of roleplay and in character banter. This is one of the activites (along with crossword puzzles) that seems to soothe my savaged brain. I try to keep it in check and not lean on it as a form of severe avoidance. But my wife knows when to tell me I should stop thinking and go play for a couple hours. Also when searching around I saw that the US Military in the mid part of this decade started conducting experiments with Tetris as a means of therapy. Video games do weird things to the brain--probably both good and bad. I know that they've found that letting kids in terminal wards play nintendo actually reduces the ammount of pain killers the children need. I don't think there is a full understanding of why these forms of amusement do what they do to us, but you aren't weird for thinking something is happening.

    And best to you on your recovery SGT Bilko. :)

    Edit: To be clear, Tetris was being examined as a means of therapy for Combat related PTSD. Personally, I find Tetris too intense actually--too much chance for failure. I tried subscribing to Puzzle Pirates for a month, but too many of the puzzle games were timed and performances were rated and had impact on your character in the game world. Pushed too many triggers for me so I'm back to a life of virtual spandex for my escape! :)
    fin likes this.
  6. carich75

    carich75 New Member

    Dude, I know exactly what you mean. After I got back from my first deployment I played Call of Duty a few times until I was good enough at it to push the right button and stuff without thinking about it. I'd play and my heart would race, and it was like I was fighting for my life. I didn't think I'd really die, but nothing mattered more than killing that next bad guy. It was extreme. It got to the point where I would sweat heavily, and I'd lose my ability to move my fingers correctly. I'd feel strong, but that isn't good for gaming.

    I stopped playing. I didn't think it was good for my heart pump that hard, so I just stopped. I recommend strategy War games instead of 1st player because I still get a cheap thrill, but I don't live it. It's like you said, if that hurts, don't do that.

    I'm sure the reaction is not abnormal. When I experienced it, I figured there were a lot of us who dealt with the same thing. Remember being in the war, when everyone around you was experiencing the same thing you were, therefore that seamed normal? Well, those guys who came home with you are still out there experiencing the same things you are as a result of the "reality" you experienced together during tougher times. Your reaction is "normal".
  7. Lucky Laser

    Lucky Laser Well-Known Member

    I could be completely off the mark here, but with the realism of some of the shooters lately I wonder if they don't give most people who play them some degree of hypervigilance or other symptoms. I think part of the "fun" is that they are supposed to ramp up the player's sympathetic nervous system. Then, just like some folks enjoy watching horror movies because they are scary, some people might enjoy the shooters because of the intensity. I mean, what isn't fun about blowing up some weird creatures in Fallout 3? =p

    I guess the main question might be, how much do YOU ultimately enjoy playing the games? I've seen the glazed reaction in a lot of people who play intense games but the games don't really affect them outside of that. If the game is actually causing something beyond a normal nervous system reaction... such as a full blown PTSD reaction maybe... then you might consider putting them down for awhile and see what happens.
  8. SGT Bilko

    SGT Bilko Active Member

    Thats really what it comes down to. I should stop, everything about it is wrong but then I miss it like someone would miss an old friend. I also feel like its beating me. Like PTSD gets to dominate my life and make me say and do things. It is the pupit master and im just on the strings. Thats the number one reason i have kept playing thus far. Ugh, i guess im just frustrated.
  9. Blues in NYC

    Blues in NYC Active Member

    Read around and educate yourself about some of the overlap between PTSD, thrill seeking and potential adrenaline addiction. At the same time, like I was saying, I've found that games (and easy word puzzles, again!) in moderation are good for certain waves of my recovery process. They are great for stimulating certain parts of the brain while reducing the stimulus (and triggers or reaction to triggers at times).

    Also, when I was reading about the Tetris studies, I read that the army was also looking at using highly immersive shooters to see if they helped as a form of Exposure therapy. If you have a professional that you see who is helping guide you on your road to health, it's best to speak frankly with him or her about this hobby. They can help you understand what it is that draws you to it and if it is important for your own recovery to continue as is, to moderate a bit more or to abstain. I felt silly as hell when I was discussing the pleasure and escape I felt with my little gaming vice with my doc. But ultimately I'm glad that I did so I could get a better handle on how to use it for my recovery with the knowledge I wasn't doing more harm than good. Plus, on the medium days--the not so good I'm getting out of the house or helping with housework and the not so bad I'm a crying trembling wreck--I actually get to have a little bit of fun now! And learning self-care and self-kindness (treating oneself well and not getting lost in a spiral of Guilt or beating oneself up) is also a key thing for many folks recovering from PTSD. So yeah, if you've got a doc, talk to them about your specific concerns, how you feel playing, why you are thinking about quitting and also what you might miss if you quit.

    Again, g'luck on that road to wellness, friend. As much as I don't feel it today (having a medium bad day right out of the gate, just tired I suppose), things do get better and the weight does get light enough to become managable in time. Hang in there!
  10. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    Before my car crash I used to like most things to do with driving, rallying, banger racing etc. Speeding cars and all that excitment. After my crash I went off it totally. Just couldn't get interested in it at all. At first it used to annoy me because I used to go go karting etc and I used to own and enjoy driving a fast car.

    I went right off it straight after my accident but some years on now I am slowly getting more interested in it again. I dont think I'll ever feel the need for speed but I might enjoy karting again soon. So maybe you'll be the same? Maybe it will never be as it was but it might get better eventually. Or maybe you'll find something else that you'll find as enjoyable?
  11. SGT Bilko

    SGT Bilko Active Member

    The problem is that the game is infact a trigger. It kinda makes me re live Iraq and Afgan so i need to talk to my head shrinker to deterime if its healthly. Its also so weird that Tetris has come up because latly, i randomly Downloaded it on my phone and I am constantly playing it. That game Is soothing. It works really well for me. I did think that tetris was created in Soviet Russia but im not sure. Anyway tetris good shootem up bad. ... Thanks again to everyone who posted. All of your imput has been invaluable.

    Having a good day.. UNTIL i decided to look at a bunch of firefight clips on youtube and listen to a bunch of my old units "fight songs". Now i would say its medium. Thanks Zolaft! Zolaft, making the hypervigilant crazies chill for over blank years.
  12. Blues in NYC

    Blues in NYC Active Member

    <quick reply> Can't edit my post above any more--but to be clear, I mixed up the good days and bad days there. Been a kinda bumpy day here already after a few good ones in a row. Emotionally and mentally tired and dealing with the shakes, confusion and Memory nonsense again. *sigh*
    fin likes this.
  13. firehouse9south

    firehouse9south Well-Known Member

    Hey Blues.

    Yes I love playing first person shooter games.
    I'm more of a Halo or Call of Duty guy myself but I can tell you this,
    when I play these games I sweat even though I'm not hot and the F bomb flies like crazy.
    I know it's supposed to jack you up but for us it's a little more than that.
    So I started playing it with my son and the swearing has lessened and I found out
    what it's like to lose to an 8 yr old, what the hell.

    Take care.

  14. fin

    fin I'm a VIP

    Claire, I understand what you have written here, I used run and walk. I worked in London and so you walked or took public transport everywhere -and both of these worked fine for me. And when I fell pregnant with my son there was no longer the option for driving lessons as every penny I had went towards him/us and making a home for us both. And still walking was not an issue for me.

    It wasnt until I was attacked that I had a problem in this area and even then it took a few years to come out, I had damaged my leg and despite pain etc... I kept going, walking and carrying on in that respect as though nothing had happened. Until it started developing worse and impacted onto other areas of my body, like my back and hip. Even then it took me a few years to get to a doc and seek help (am doing physio now).

    I ran the Chicago marathon with a friend of mine-she was there and I was here on a treadmill-yeah I got the better end of the deal maybe on that (although I would have happily run it in Chicago!). My point is I do understand and it is a trigger for me also and for a while there everytime I took a step, or moved funny or walked anywhere I was constantly reminded about what had happened, and not just the one assault either. It is getting better in that area, so I am really grateful for some things again now that I soo took for granted when I could do them well or perhaps just better than I do at the moment.

    I understand about the first person shooter games and am glad I asked, thankyou all for explaining it to me here, and also for this thread; it has been interesting to see some of this from another angle. We all have stuff that triggers and can cause us so much grief, it may not always seem obvious on the outside to others, but there is a lot shared here, and a lot also understood. I guess in some ways running was like an escape for me, I used to love to run - feel my heart I do get what you are saying on various levels here, and I totally get the draw of what it is you have shared Fire. Glad to read that the cussing has lessend :) always a bonus with an 8 yr old.

    Thankyou again and take care, oh and we had the London Marathon here today so I may have digressed just a little, but still on topic I think.


    I'm thinking Sonic the Hedgehog doesnt count? ;) yeah no, its cool I didn't think so! Last video game I think I played with my son...but I know Halo he plays that now some.
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