i want to share my relationship with games as a person with borderline personality disorder, ptsd, and social anxiety. i hope this can bring some validation to other folks with personality disorders. this post assumes familiarity with bpd.
(light cw for mental illness talk, suicide, etc. no anecdotes)
bpd often brings me a feeling of alienation from the rest of the world, my body, and my place in time. videogames are suspended in time, places where you are allowed to forget your body and insert yourself into a new one. this is powerful for me, as i have difficulty forming a sense of identity. a videogame avatar almost feels like a container which helps gives shape and form for my identity, a container i usually lack–things just spill out when i try to put them in.
player avatars almost always act on different rules than other entities in a game world, conferring a sense of power. as a borderline this grants me a sense of agency, self-worth and attention where i usually feel powerless and impotent in my day to day life. a videogame can be a space for steady positive affirmation that i would feel guilty demanding from friends or loved ones.
my ptsd and social anxiety make it difficult to function in social spaces despite my social inclinations and need for attention. i can always turn on a videogame when i can’t go out or spend time with friends, and that has been crucial in helping me survive. online games sometimes let me have both at once, which is a saving grace. it helps so much having videogames which both let me express identity and which act socially, like pokemon or monster hunter. even if its momentary, it grants me a sense of fullness in a social interaction that i rarely experience otherwise.
and when i’m on the razor’s edge, sometimes pulling myself out of my situation is enough to save me. when i need to just not be here so i don’t melt down, videogames are a widely acceptable place for me to channel my dissociation.
consequently, there are certain things i value very highly. intricate systems for self expression is one of them, but so are games where identitylessness is normalized, like visually abstract or management games. i like it when i can lose my self in a game–the often misunderstood concept of “immersion”. to me that means a place with consistent rules and intricate subtexts. i like it when games are social, when they’re talking points or things to gather around.
it’s often difficult to express how videogames are crucial to my existence without feeling like i sound frivolous. sometimes it even feels pathetic that i chose them to be my career with this in mind. but like, fuck, i would be completely dysfunctional otherwise. it’s nice to know i have something? my thoughts on this are still really incoherent, and i’ve neglected getting as personal as i could, but most importantly i hope i’ve offered something to relate to or give better understanding.