from the world's big
Fighting materialized, virtual monsters can be cathartic in stressful and precarious times.
- Some of the most downloaded video game genres during the pandemic quarantine have been horror games designed to inspire terror and anxiety.
- Authors of a new study say that inserting yourself into a virtual horror realm could offer relief during times of stress by allowing you to engage and dominate materialized monsters and demons.
- They argue that the horror game appeal is similar to religious methods to grapple with fear and guilt (sin).
The ‘Mastering Monsters’ hypothesis<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxMzIzNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDY2MTAwNn0.LPQHHM2gBsw4qmNlGo3AQ0qahC3JF1A-sX_wC8zCBcc/img.jpg?width=980" id="9880d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a032e677c8a2fe2dac5219c5b6ee5bdf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Still image from "DayZ" game" />
Photo Credit: images.pexels.com<p>In a new study <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/preternature.5.2.0213?mag=the-therapeutic-value-of-horror-video-games&seq=1" target="_blank">published in the journal Preternature</a>, the authors suggest that disturbing video games may have a therapeutic role in today's precarious world by providing players the illusion of control. "Faced with physical and psychological dangers, human beings imagine them as monsters and seek to master them," they write in the paper.</p><p>This idea is exemplified by the authors through a critical analysis of the post-apocalyptic game "DayZ," in which the player enters the middle of a zombie infested landscape. The aim is simply to survive with bare minimum equipment and a fragile character. Death in the game is final, and the character has to be recreated to play again. Essentially, the goal is to keep the underdog character alive as long as possible despite the stacked odds. </p><p>Maybe it hits too close to home, but for some it might be exactly the kind of escapism they are craving right now. At least, that's what the authors suggest. They explain that when unfortunate and uncontrollable events start to occur in our worlds (i.e. coronavirus) we may personify them as malevolent forces intentionally out to destroy us; our health, our jobs, our relationships, etc. But these forces in our environment are not material and maddeningly elusive. Horror video games, on the other hand, solidify those fears into material monsters. They offer players a virtual realm in which they can embody a character that can actually fight and possibly destroy those forces. In this way, these games give individuals a sense of control in precarious times. </p>
What gaming and religion have in common<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2a96c300081fcaaa5845556a49256382"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/d9W0q6RqdV0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Much of the stress that stems from something like a pandemic or economic uncertainty is the helpless feeling about events entirely out of our control. Terrorizing video games offer the opportunity to actually <em>do something</em> about stressful events.</p><p>"The horrific experience of video games, and hence their cathartic appeal, emerges when a game produces a constant level of anxiety in players while allowing the players to act on it," the authors explain. They write that fans of "DayZ," "generally enjoy, rather than avoid, the combination of permanent death…and the drive to strengthen their characters and make them safe." </p><p>The authors argue that this is similar to religious tactics to grapple with fear and guilt (sin).</p><p>"Religion stems, in part, from our capacity to see agency in our environment," explains the study. "A strategy designed to help us avoid danger, but which also leads us to believe that there are forces at work just outside of our immediate awareness. The tendency to turn shadows into stalkers and fallen twigs into footsteps."</p><p>Both horror games and the belief in an angel / demon spiritual duality of the universe give us a sense of control over our destinies. </p>
Study details and conclusions<p>After surveying more than 7000 players of two online horror games, "Requiem: Memento Mori" and "DayZ," the researchers found that nearly 70 percent reported that the gaming experience was mildly to very cathartic. Another interesting finding was that 20 percent of the participants reported that since playing the video game they felt that things were less frightening than before. Though, most said that the games had not changed their daily life.</p><p>The authors believe that the dark forces faced in the electronic world of video games "represent the irrational, the repressed, and the wholly other." They go on to suggest that those experiences are reconstructed in the world of a horror game and manifested as tangible, albeit virtual, monsters that players feel are directly challenging. </p><p>"That these games exist shows that we need horror," they conclude. "The demonic and the monstrous appear in pop culture because they represent evil and our fears and anxieties. It is our human nature to be attracted to the horrific and obtain pleasure from encountering it because this is how we gain a partial and temporary victory over ourselves."</p><p>Ultimately, these findings seem to indicate that human nature seeks physical control, even the illusion of control, over our fates and fears whether it's through horror gaming, religion, protest, or another means. </p>
- A 2019 study in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that religious believers are more likely to own dogs than cats.
- Researchers found that hardcore evangelicals are less likely to own pets than more the progressive religious.
- Pet ownership also skews political: Democrats prefer cats while Republicans choose dogs.
Jackson Galaxy's Top Tips For Cat Owners | My Cat From Hell<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bfc883e7258e80ec94eb01e1ccae29ab"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Rjol1zMVcos?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>For this study, Perry and Burge used a 2018 survey with 2,348 respondents. Half replied to questions about pet ownership, with mean average of 1.72 pets per household. They broke down statistics on the three largest religious groups: evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Catholics.</p><p>Biblical significance only affects evangelicals. Since the Bible isn't exactly PETA-friendly, with all the directives about lording over the kingdom, hardcore religious appear less likely to support animal rights and are more likely to tolerate cruelty toward other species.</p><p>On a related note, pet ownership is political: dogs are more likely to live in rural, Republican-leaning regions, while cats dominate urban, Democratic strongholds. </p><p>The most interesting aspect of their study involves speculation about pet owner psychology. Apparently, the most religious households think about what a pet can <em>do</em> instead of adopting them for what they <em>are</em>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We would expect that Christian conservatism―as indicated by evangelical affiliation and more literalist interpretations of the Bible―would predict the ownership of family pets that have more practical utility such as dogs, but not necessarily cats."</p><p>Cat owners are often considered isolated, neurotic individuals, whereas "dog people" are social and extraverted. Indeed, dog park visits and walking around the neighborhood appear to be motivating factors for owning a dog. Larger families tend to be more religious <em>and</em> own more dogs as well. </p><p>The antisocial aspect of cat owners has recently been downplayed. A few crazy ladies can't ruin the image for the rest of us. Pet ownership is psychologically healthy: Having an animal reduces your anxiety and depression, as well as increases self-esteem among adults and children.</p>
Does what you believe in come from reason? Or just your community?
That's not frankincense you smell at the "holy of the holies."
- Cannabis and frankincense were discovered at the "holy of holies" shrine in Tel Arad, Israel.
- Both substances were mixed with animal dung to promote heating.
- This marks the first time cannabis has been found in the Kingdom of Judah.
As a doctor, I am reminded every day of the fragility of the human body, how closely mortality lurks just around the corner.
'Despite all our medical advances,' my friend Jason used to quip, 'the mortality rate has remained constant – one per person.'