16-year-old Cardiffian, Mia, shares how gaming helped her tackle loneliness and make friends.
This article is part of the Never Give In campaign, where 21 young Cardiffians were commissioned to create a piece of art showing how gaming affects their mental health. This is the story of Mia, a 16-year-old artist who was part of the project.
How has gaming affected your mental health?
I often used games to socialise and discover new friends, especially when I was out of school and never really left the house. Bonding with people over the same interests and games helps me so much, giving me something to look forward to every day. I felt part of a community and I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone I’ve met!
I understand how people may feel about socialising but for me, it truly changed my mindset. Having a group of like-minded people to rely on in one of the loneliest times made the whole difference and thanks to gaming, I thankfully met those people.
The games I often play weren’t online but I still found people who enjoyed the same things as me and as much as I don’t play with them that much anymore, there’s a special place in my heart for everything they’ve done for me. It even inspired me to begin making original characters, which is now my biggest interest to date!
What inspired you to create this artwork?
I made my artwork in the middle of an art block. I had absolutely no motivation or inspiration at the time and I decided to make something out of it. It was around the time I was also deeply into gaming, so a lot of the odd graphics and bright colours are inspired by game glitches. Having a glitch in-game makes you feel almost disconnected from that game; it takes you out of the immersion and when it happens over and over and over, it can almost feel hopeless. Like nothing you do will ever fix the problem.
The character I used is my own, whose name is Sumu! She was originally based on a game, funnily enough. I made her in 2018 – 4 years ago! She’s changed a lot as I’ve grown up. 2018-2019 were pretty bad times for me, so Sumu was incredibly upbeat and happy. Now I’m in a much much happier place, she’s gone the other way. She’s apathetic and sarcastic to most people she meets, keeping to herself in school and often staying isolated for long periods of time. She, like a lot of us, uses gaming and art as our escapism. This piece embodies that for both me and Sumu.
The characters you see on the pop-up screens are Sumu’s own characters. I like to call it Oc-Ception. The most present one, the purple-haired “alien”, is named Loe. An incredibly enthusiastic “alien” that accidentally came to earth and discovered the joys of singing. Think Hatsune Miku! Loe is very reminiscent of a game character, having similar movement patterns, dialogue, character design etc. I wanted to make her sort of like an RPG character… without being one.
I could talk about them and this piece for hours and I love it to absolute pieces.
What message would you give to someone who is struggling with their mental health?
You aren’t alone! Finding the right outlet for you and feeling comfortable in a community you link with is so so important to feel connected to others. Not only that, but learning and discovering things about yourself can help you understand things you might not fully grasp just yet. I used art and my characters to learn things about myself in the past and still do! Everybody is different, but nobody is alone. I promise you that! 💜
Struggling with your mental health? Check out TheSprout’s Mental Health Information Page where you can find loads of local and national support services.
If you’re sharing our posts from the Never Give In campaign on social media, remember to use the #PositiveMentalGaming hashtag. Feel free to tag us so we can see what you’re sharing!