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Guardians of Well-Being: How Destiny Boosted My Mental Health

by Robert Marrone | U.S. Army Veteran

In the realm of gaming, Destiny stands out as a prime example of how a video game can have a positive impact on mental health. The game's intricate world, cooperative gameplay, and supportive community have been a refuge for many others facing mental health challenges and me. Let's delve into an experience illustrating how my Destiny experience helped boost my mental health.

The Experience:

I am someone who has been battling PTSD, anxiety, and depression, long removed from the days of my service in the Army, and as the totalities of my injuries of service have left me feeling isolated, struggling to find motivation, and searching for a sense of purpose in life. One day, a friend introduced me to Destiny, a shared-world, first-person shooter game developed by Bungie.

It’s easy to see how this game's ability to help with my mental health dissipated as I dived into the rich, immersive world of Destiny. The game's storyline, involving a group of Guardians defending Earth and its last city from alien threats, resonated with me. I decided to become a Guardian, the game's main protagonist, and joined a fire team with my friend Dan.

Destiny's cooperative gameplay provided me with an essential element of support. The game encourages players to collaborate, strategize, and work together to overcome challenging missions, raids, and public events. This cooperative nature helped me build social connections, not just with my friend but with the broader Destiny community.

The in-game and real-life friendships I cultivated allowed me to open up about my mental health struggles. I found a supportive group of individuals who offered not only camaraderie but also empathy and understanding. These newfound relationships were pivotal in helping me break through my feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The game's progression system also provides a sense of achievement and purpose. As I leveled up my Guardian, I experienced a tangible sense of progress and accomplishment, something that had been missing from my life for a long time. The feeling of agency over my in-game character translated to greater self-confidence in the real world.

Why Destiny 2 Works:

Destiny 2's success in promoting mental health can be attributed to several key features:

  • Cooperative Gameplay: The game encourages teamwork and collaboration, allowing players to form strong bonds and support networks.

  • Rich and Immersive World: The game's immersive storytelling and captivating world offer an escape from the daily struggles of mental health challenges.

  • Community Support: Destiny has a dedicated and welcoming community, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity.

  • Sense of Achievement: The game's progression system provides players with a clear sense of accomplishment and purpose.

In my case, Destiny became more than just a game; it was a lifeline that helped me navigate my mental health challenges. By forging connections, finding a sense of achievement, and escaping into the game's captivating world, I discovered a renewed sense of hope, motivation, and connection to a world I thought I lost.

While not a one-size-fits-all solution, Destiny's positive impact on mental health serves as a testament to the potential benefits of gaming, offering a therapeutic outlet for those in need of support, social connections, and personal growth.

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