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The Best Video Games for Your Mental Health

Whether you feel like peacefully farming or punching a demon in its fucking face, these games are sure to cheer you up

Life got you down? Pissed at the world? Want to take your mind off things? 

Here’s something you’ll be happy to learn: A report published just this summer found that “commercial video games show great promise as inexpensive, readily accessible, internationally available, effective and stigma-free resources for the mitigation of some mental health issues.” Not only do many of them alleviate symptoms of depression, but in some cases, they also foster social connectedness and reduce loneliness as well. 

The only question left is, what should you play? To help you choose, I asked the gamers of r/GamingSuggestions which video games cheer them up when they’re feeling down. Below, I’ve listed their favorites so you can game your way to happiness.

Tetris Effect

Arguably the most aesthetically-and-sonically-pleasing rendition of Tetris, Tetris Effect is a classic made modern. Interestingly, research shows that playing Tetris can help prevent the formation of painful memories associated with trauma. The burden it puts on our visual system is believed to stop those graphic recollections from forming in the first place, so if you’ve had an especially bad day, Tetris could help you move on.

Minecraft

A true classic, Minecraft provides virtually infinite, blocky worlds for players to discover and extract raw materials, craft tools, build structures, and best of all, make friends with animals. It’s nostalgic, easy on the eyes and includes an extremely relaxing soundtrack. If you hate the real world, it presents an opportunity to make a new one. Just don’t get blown up by a creeper.

Teardown

Another block-based game, Teardown is almost all about destruction. Sledgehammers, explosives, shotguns and vehicles (like cranes, excavators and boats) can all be used to raze structures with the goal of creating an efficient path to complete your objectives. Angry? Take it out in Teardown.

Cozy Grove

A game named Cozy Grove is almost guaranteed to cheer you up. It’s all about camping on a haunted island and working to make it a better place. You’ll fish, craft and decorate the isle, and you’ll collect cute-as-hell spirit animals. If you’re an ambitious type, it has plenty of quests to complete, too.

No Man’s Sky

In No Man’s Sky, you’re free to explore, survive, fight and trade in an open universe that includes over 18 quintillion planets, all with one-of-a-kind flora and fauna. Of course, there are aliens, too. As one r/GamingSuggestions lurker puts it, “It’s relaxing and therapeutic to just cruise around the galaxy and gather resources.” Hell yeah, bro.

Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2

In the Psychonauts series, your mission is to explore the odd and extravagant minds of various characters to help them overcome their bad memories, which may in turn help you deal with your own. “Going into someone else’s mind and seeing their trauma from their perspective — or how their mind is organized differently from the next person — really helps to put things in perspective,” another r/GamingSuggestions gamer says.

Stardew Valley

One of the most peaceful games ever created, Stardew Valley is an open-ended role-playing game that revolves around developing a dilapidated farm. You’re free to grow crops, raise livestock, craft goods, mine ores and even chat with the townspeople. Hell, you can even get married if you’d like. As yet another r/GamingSuggestions prowler says, “It helps me feel like I can achieve things, have control and live simply.”

Ring Fit Adventure and Just Dance

Ring Fit Adventure and Just Dance are both games that get you up and exercising, which is sure to boost your mental health. The former involves all sorts of physical feats, from running, jumping and even flying (in the game, of course), while the latter is all about shaking your hips (duh).

The Sims

Another classic, The Sims allows you to design a whole new life and a whole new you, which can feel hella good if you’re feeling hella bad. Build a home, meet friends and try to avoid setting your character on fire or trapping them in the pool. 

DOOM Eternal

If you’re pissed and want to beat the crap out of some demons, DOOM Eternal is the game for you. Blast their heads off with a shotgun, blow them up with a rocket launcher or slice them in half with a chainsaw — you choose, bro. If you kill enough, you may even save humanity, which is something you can be proud of. (I recommend easy mode, though.)

Honorary Mentions

If none of the above video games are your style — or if you’ve played them all — the gamers of r/GamingSuggestions offered up these suggestions, too:

Now get your game on and feel better.

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