The Gaming Persona welcomes Mxiety to the show. As a Twitch partner and mental health advocate, Mxiety shares her perspective on video games, her community, her mission, and how she connects with some of her favorite games. Dr. Gameology and Jenny continue to review the importance of games and consideration of wellness principles in the way we engage our communities and our passions. Be sure to follow Mxiety at:
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Being the Light With Mxiety
I’m @DrGameology on Twitch and other social apps. Of course, you can find me on this show every week. The Gaming Persona can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, and most anywhere else podcasts can be found. Jenny, what do we have in store for our show?
We are going to be talking with Mxiety.
The Mxiety from all the cool things on the internet, including Twitch and Twitter, and good, uplifting, positive messages. I’m so excited to have that be part of the history, the story, and the journey of our show.
We made it.
Let’s go ahead and do the ordinary world because I can’t wait to get to the real part of our episode. This is where we share our everyday lives through our games. Jenny, what was your week like in the world of gaming?
I have not had one of these kinds of weeks in a long time. I barely played any video games this week, Daniel. I only played a teeny tiny bit of the Final Fantasy MSQ for maybe an hour or so. That’s it. It was a slow part of the story, and I skipped one of my first cutscenes in Shadowbringers. It was odd not to play for an entire week after power leveling through two major expansions. It was weird.
It was a super busy week for me. I traveled to New Hampshire and celebrated ten years with J Lebron Photography. Ten years exactly to the day that I shot my first wedding with my business in New Hampshire in the same place as my first wedding, not the same venue but the same state, about 30 minutes or so from where I was shooting this wedding this past weekend.
To me, it’s so weird that I booked a client for this weekend, this particular date, exactly ten years later. It was magical. I felt so great that day. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever photographed. It’s fall in New Hampshire now, and all the details were incredible in this wedding. I was in the middle of the mountains, and it was my dream, so I had such a great time.
What you are saying is life is a simulation, and we are in the matrix. That’s so cool, though, that your matrix business has been working for ten years of simulated time as we sit in our pods. I’m kidding. I say that all the time. It’s a joke. Don’t believe me. That was meant to be funny. It’s so interesting how life can have these synergistic connections with itself.
It was magical. I love when stuff like that happens, and it makes it so much more special. Truly the whole day, I was buzzing.
That’s cool, though because you don’t get to feel that all the time, so when you do that, it makes it even more special. Being aware of it, you can easily miss that and reflect and be like, “I could have felt that.”
I was dancing at times where you shouldn’t be dancing and I was like, “This is fun.”
You can dance if you want to, Jenny.
You can leave your friends behind.
I don’t know the rest of the lyrics. I’m not that cool. We were so into our interview with Tony, and it felt like an afterthought. I want to reiterate that I’m so excited that twenty years of waiting for Sora to be in Super Smash Bros. and it’s happening. The whole we are in the matrix concept, I can’t believe it because every time they add a new fighter to Smash Bros., it literally has been for me, is it going to be Sora?
I forgot I played Super Smash Bros. That’s how terrible I am at that game. I don’t even register it in my brain as a video game that I play.
It is very quick to pick up and play, and it doesn’t always have that lasting impact because it’s so casual unless you are serious about it. I wanted to put that back on our list of things to talk about. Sora is the main protagonist in the Kingdom Hearts series, which is a story meld of Disney with Final Fantasy storytelling conceptualization.
The first one came out when I was in high school. Now I’m Dr. Gameology, PhD, all schools are in the rear-view mirror, except for the school that I teach at. For Sora to be added into this mash-up fighting extravaganza and be able to fight Cloud and Sephiroth, Mario and Luigi, Bowser, Solid Snake, Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter, that’s where he belongs, Jenny.
I’m happy for you.
It’s complete fulfillment, whatever business sense it took to make that finally happen, and he’s the final character. Smash Bros. Ultimate is essentially complete once they add him. For me playing games, I continued with streams of God of War from the PS4 era. I killed a Valkyrie, which is a bonus boss. I could have lost four times and said, “Nope. Never mind,” but I didn’t. I did die four times. I kept dying and I was like, “All I have to do is block well.”
We talked about Flow, Jenny, and the process of blocking and then doing combos but being mindful of blocking and dodging. Quit your offense because if you keep being offensive at the wrong moments, you are going to get owned. The time that I won the fight, I almost let it slip away by making a mistake at the end. My Flow broke, and I felt vulnerable. I felt like, “That was the time I was going to do it and threw it away.”
Luckily, I held it together, and I did take the boss down with one more combo. It was very close. My health bar was not very healthy in the end but I won a tough fight. It lined up with some of the things we have been talking about on our show and some of the things I’m thinking about intently, and the research side of things with me in video games. I was so happy that got to be on the stream.
The other cool thing is there are so many insights that I hope to share someday on a show about father-son relationships in that game like publication-worthy stuff in God of War. Somewhere in the journey of our show, whether it was the last episode or before this one, I achieved my final soul stone in Final Fantasy XIV. All of my classes have transformed into their advanced versions, so no more archers and rogues. It’s bards and ninjas for me. That was a cool thing.
It took a little bit of focus work but ultimately, not too much of a time investment, which is why I picked that as a mini-goal to have for the small amount of playtime that I was able to continue having. Our show has been so much fun. I just want to say that. I have been enjoying what we do when we get together. Our guests have been great. The topics have been amazing. It’s so much fun to come to hang out with you, Jenny.
I have been having a great time.
We are ready to move into the next phase of our show. Do you want to come with me?
Yeah, let’s do it.
Jenny, it’s time for finding our allies because it’s too dangerous to go alone. I’m so excited. We are finally here. Our guest for this week’s show, I have been looking forward to this for a long time, Jenny. Can you believe who we have now?
We have somebody who is responsible for picking up me, Dr. Gameology, on days where I’m not ready to do this. Mxiety is somebody that I stumbled upon on Twitter because of mutual follows, and she was saying something. I don’t remember what it was but it dragged me out, nihilistic, I don’t give a f***, and then I saw all these conversations. Her group of people was also so supportive and thoughtful. I was like, “How do I get people to talk to me on Twitter and make it look like that?”
I worked and decided, “We have guests on our show now. Do you want to be on our show?” Now we are here. Mxiety is a mental health variety talk show host who had an amazing show, by the way. I recommend anyone who is excited by all of this hype to go look at some of the guests and some of the talk shows that she does on Tuesday. They are so good.
She is a partner on Twitch, another amazing accomplishment. Her goals are to raise awareness around mental health, accessibility, and helping people feel comfortable being themselves in the gaming space. Everything she does feels uplifting. Her community is great and very caring. We have her here on our show. Welcome M to the show.
How do I follow up on that introduction? People are going to expect some amazing archetype that I cannot fill in the shoes that you are saying that I can fill. First of all, I’m a puddle of mashed potatoes now. Thank you so much for those kind words. You are like, “Amazingness,” and I’m going to come and be like, “By the way, guys, I make a lot of fart jokes.”
Some of my best friends in the Twitch space make amazing fart jokes. It’s completely fine.
Adds to the charm.
M, I know that I never even told you any of that backstory. The messages that you post sometimes pick me up and remind me of what I’m trying to be that day, whether it’s lecturing in a class. Sometimes I say that I take on a lot. I teach a lot, and I’m in this research stuff. I’m representing a lot of ideas for this gaming, mental health space in my own little way. Sometimes I will see things on Twitter, and you are one of those people where your positivity hits me and makes me feel like, “It’s okay for my starting line to be over there and me to keep walking towards it.”
Let me be clear, it’s not all positive. Somebody comes at me with a, “We don’t want toxic positivity?” I don’t want that either. My goal, specifically with Twitter, is to remind people of the things that I remind myself on a near every second basis of like, “No, I do have worse. It’s okay that I thought this mean thing about myself. It’s okay that I didn’t like myself today. I can fix that tomorrow.” Honestly, it’s me talking to myself, and then it happens to work for other people.
That’s a neat way to frame it because I was talking with Jenny about this. I remind myself that one of the things I could do if I wanted to reach the next level of awesomeness is done more social media. It takes a lot of deliberate effort to make those posts.
Thank you for acknowledging that.
The kinds of things I tried to help people within their therapy sessions have some of that same vibe, and yet, the idea pops in my head when it’s like, “You are not going to do this very well.” It’s like, “Shut up. I’m going to do it great.” That could be the tweet but I don’t post it. It takes a lot of deliberate effort. I recognize that, and I think all the time about the context that I won’t ever know what a person’s true context is. What’s the backstory there? What is the lair boss that they are battling? How did they win?
It takes a lot to be a source of light on social media, especially on Twitter, so kudos to you.
I need to play this back to myself when I look at Twitter and close it and go, “Not today,” and then I reopen it and go, “Yes, today.” There’s a moment where I go, “Not today,” and that’s what matters.You can use Twitter as a way to remind people of the things that you remind yourself of on a near every second basis. Click To Tweet
On the topic of Twitter, I have told my counseling students, these are future counselors that want to challenge themselves to use their empathetic abilities or active listening or reflecting questions, “Go on Twitter and say something about Star Wars.”
You are trying to start a riot.
Don’t leave the app. Camp there and do twenty minutes of counseling skills, Twitter Star Wars.
It’s a trap.
I’m looking at our first question. I have already introduced you and probably answered this whole question. Could you tell our audience a little bit about what you do, how you got started, and how you’ve become this person that ended up on a little show called The Gaming Persona and has accomplished way bigger things than that, if I may add?
This is no small feat. Don’t downplay it. First of all, it is an honor. Thank you so much for inviting me and trusting me with your mic time. That’s no small thing. My name is Mxiety, which comes from my name Marie and the word anxiety because I am full of it. So far, so good. I’m doing great. My whole thing is, I was going through a hard time with my mental health, and every person that I would talk to about it was like, “Yeah, me too.”
I was like, “I don’t understand because I hope you know that among our group of five people, everybody said, ‘Yeah, me too.’ It’s this weird club that everybody is a part of but nobody else knows the other club members. Why don’t we introduce the other club members to each other?” That’s the first way I put that, so don’t give me too much credit for that, and I like that.
It genuinely was; I am tired of not talking about my mental health or pretending I’m okay when I’m not okay. That was part one. Part two was the realization that a lot of people were doing the same thing. Part three was what I saw a lot of on social media, YouTube, and all the content creation spaces where people sharing their stories, “Here is me, what it’s like to live with depression.” Super valid. There were doctors on the other side going, “Here is what depression is like, and here is how to treat it. Here is what you do.”
I didn’t see anybody in the middle of going, “Here’s what my depression is like, and it turns out, 20% of people experience it the same way,” or being that bridge. There was a gap between people being afraid of doctors, counseling, and therapy because it seems like doctors are these scary people like, “I’m going to go in there, and they are going to dissect my brain. That’s uncomfortable and scary. I don’t want that.”
I was like, “What if I’m going to share my story and talk about what it has been like for me, including going to therapy and all that?” Eventually, I got to a point where people trusted me, licensed psychologists and therapists. Researchers started trusting me to come on to the show and share like, “This what this stuff is actually like. Here’s a very difficult concept broken down. Here’s what therapy is going to be like. Here’s what autism is.” I wanted to create a space where mental health was accessible, and information and everything about it was accessible. I think we did that. That’s the story.
That’s the word I would use to describe your show. I have watched a few episodes, and it’s so relatable and accessible. It is that bridge between the scary doctors like Daniel. I’m kidding.
I have never seen a scary doctor in my life. We mentioned Star Wars earlier, terrified and shaky.
Truly, it’s such a great show. I have enjoyed watching it and subscribing for the past little bit.
I enjoyed the Wii Fit, the stretches that have the calming voice like in the actual record.
That was a pain in the behind to record.
I was thinking about that, too.
It’s so much harder than you would think it is. I had to be desaturated. At the time, my partner was doing all the work to edit it. For those who don’t know, I have a stretch break during my stream when I go run to use the potty, where it’s an homage to the Wii Fit Trainer. The whole thing is four minutes, maybe. People love it, and that makes me feel very happy but I would never do that again.
It got my gears turning. If I wanted to do something like that, it wouldn’t be Wii Fit. The question is, “What would it be?” That’s one of the things I wanted to give you a compliment on. I like the feel and the look of your show and the way your channel is put together. It makes the information pop in the right way.
That’s so lovely. This isn’t a Compliment Mxiety Hour, right?
One of my motives is to help our audience know about you, however many people that is. One of the cool things about your perspective like Jenny joked is, I’ve got signed up to be on the other side of the topic. Everything I say about this, there’s this perception of, “Is this informed by the DSM-5? Is it based on such and such papers that were published last year or 2018?”It takes a lot to be a source of light on social media, especially on Twitter. Click To Tweet
Jenny and I were talking about a couple of different YouTube channels, and I was saying, “That person is a licensed professional.” The idea of, “If I show that in a classroom, I actually can’t because there’s ethics and stuff involved.” It would be cool if we stopped being so serious and focused on accessibility and circulating information.
One of the things I have to remind students about all the time is, “According to these ethical codes, you can do this. According to these, you can’t.” Having people that do work like you and some of the other people that are not in that clinical level of taking things way too seriously. Ethics are good, by the way.
I don’t think anybody is thinking, “This guy is going to run over grandma and tell you he didn’t do it.” You are okay.
I’m still on the chaotic good side of the whole spectrum. I’m not on the evil side. Just people’s champion kind of thing there. Jenny, let’s go through some of our questions. What do we have next?
I’m curious, has there been a guest that you have had on your show that has been super exciting or that you have been looking forward to collaborating with or even just a topic?
There have been so many. I will never say the names out loud but I could probably count on one hand the amount of guests I have had that I have been like, “That wasn’t my best episode.” I have had over 200 guests. People come to me, and they will be like, “Probably so many people talk to you about autism or video game addiction already,” whether or not it’s real. I’m like, “Yeah, but you haven’t talked about it.”
Every perspective is fresh and different. There have been people that have come in that I have agreed with every point they are making, and we are vibing. That makes the show good. There have been other people with whom I was not agreeing with, and I sit back, nod, and go, “Okay.” I give them the space to share what they believe is a correct opinion, and that’s okay, too.
My role as an interviewer is not to break you down and be like, “This is how you’re supposed to think.” It’s more like putting guests in the spotlight. Even if people come at me with the same topic, everybody explains things in a different way. Everybody has their own perspective. That is what I’m trying to get at on the show. It’s to show that multiple people, even those who’ve studied the subject, will have different approaches to understanding it. I love that so much.
Even people who I have disagreed with, who have had weird views on the world, and they are not vibing with me, I still walked away and learned something. Has every episode been my best episode in the world? Absolutely not. Has every guest and I gelled well as we are doing the interview? Absolutely not. My Tuesday episodes are my favorite. I stream multiple times, and Tuesdays are the days where I get to talk to people about what I’m most passionate about. That is always awesome.
Mentioning passion, one of the things that are a real tough thing for me to figure out with people, and it looks like depression and also sometimes video games are involved, and sometimes they have a person in their life who’s making them do therapy because they think video games are the problem. When you talk to people who have this passion, everything about them lights up. It’s awe-inspiring.
That is what happens to me when we do The Gaming Persona or something like it. When I’m talking to clients that are in this stuck kind of thing, they don’t want to be there, and someone is forcing them to talk to me. My goal is to support the idea that video games are the problem when it’s not. They don’t have that passion because there hasn’t been a time in their life where someone was letting them know that’s a thing. Find it. What sticks to the wall?
Instead of being like, “You need to play the Xbox less,” the conversation is, “Let’s find this thing that lights you up.” Different kinds of conversations but we need to find that passion. When we get a chance to talk to someone who has it, it’s the best thing. I can’t even put into real words what it is. Another one of the streams that you do is called the Beginner Game Reviews. I haven’t got to watch one of these but can you tell us a little bit about that?
Beginner Game Reviews are uber fun. For a very long time, I knew that I was not good at video games. I would get frustrated and upset with myself and say to my community, “I’m so sorry. I suck at games.” I was playing the Final Fantasy Remake and I was like, “I’m sorry. It’s not a good show because I’m not playing the game well. I’m lost and confused.” I was getting so into my head. That’s not fun to watch. I have a beautiful, understanding, helpful community but somebody who’s constantly apologizing and feels bad about what they are doing is not fun to watch.
A few conversations happened on Twitter, the ones where people would say stuff like, “Not every game is for everybody.” One of my favorites is like, “Part of the game is for it to be hard.” I watched that and I was like, “Absolutely not.” There were a bunch of people responding and being like, “I like playing games for the sake of the story. I want to play it in the easiest mode so I can see what the story is, and maybe I will go back and play it harder.”
I was reading all these perspectives and I was like, “That’s it. Totally me, too. I don’t want to feel bad for sucking at games anymore.” There’s something about that. Of course, there are Girlfriend Reviews and a few other channels that do a good job reviewing games for different perspectives. I was like, “I wish somebody reviewed games to let me know if a noob like me is able to play this or if this isn’t a good starter game.”
I started doing that, and I have had so much fun doing it because it helped me. It made it okay. A lot of the point is like, “I’m not good at this. Other people who aren’t good at this can watch it and not only relate but also know like, ‘I can’t play that. That’s good to know. I’ve got to work my way up to that.’” It’s never to discourage people. I played The Witcher, and compared to a lot of games, that’s a hard one. My goal is to not say, “Don’t play this game.” It’s, “Every button is involved. If you have a hard time with coordination as I do, that’s going to be a problem for you. Keep that in mind.”
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword one has a very tough time with motion controls. If you are someone like me and you are a baby with motion controls, having the motion control does not work for you. It’s uber hard. That’s what I want to prepare people for. I edit them into YouTube videos. Many people have come into my streams and been like, “I was going to buy this game but I don’t think I will. I might come back to it at some point but I don’t think I will now because that looks like something I would struggle with as well.”
That’s rewarding to me because the other side of it is also people coming in and being like, “This game looks like I could easily enjoy it. I’m buying it now.” I love that. It’s positive and uplifting. It’s about, “We suck at games, and that’s okay. We can still enjoy them. Watch me enjoy games as I suck at them. Watch me get frustrated in a silly way and still try to persevere and see how far I can get.” It also works well with my terrible inattentiveness, where in order to do these views, I only have to play through the first three hours of a game, which afterward, I usually lose interest. This works out perfectly for me.
You know, a game good for me like Rainbow Billy, when it’s a super easy game and for every age. It came out. It’s a great example of a game that I’m like, “I’m going to play this for hours.” Another one is The Last Friend, and it’s about rescuing puppies. It’s Plants vs Zombie-ish but a little more involved. I’m like, “I’m going to play this for hours.” My dog is in it, too, so sidenote.
That’s its own unique view of this. You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to say that you are a gamer. Do you sit down, play a game, and enjoy yourself for however long you find yourself enjoying it? That’s gaming. That’s the whole point. That’s what I’m trying to promote. I have had a lot of fun making them, being silly, and making fun of myself. It’s helped me a lot come to terms with the fact that I’m not perfect.Some people play games in the easiest mode for the sake of the story. Click To Tweet
Nobody is perfect. If you are pursuing perfection, you need to give up. You are never going to make it. I mean that in a positive way, from a philosophical perspective that everything can get a little bit better.
I love the idea that anybody can be a gamer. It doesn’t matter if you suck, especially as a woman gamer. It’s so validating.
First of all, you are already perceived to not be good at games, so I felt that pressure of like, “I wasn’t good at Final Fantasy VII. Some dude is going to come in and be like, ‘Girls can’t play games.’” Here I am sucking at it, and I’m not proving him wrong. There’s all this weight. The reality is I grew up in Russia. I did not grow up in the United States. I had access to the NES and a Sega Genesis. I had literally two games. I played Mario Bros. 3 and Sonic 2, and then I had a Tetris pad. That is all I did and poorly.
I played so many hours of Tetris. If you ask me how many times I won Tetris, I can’t tell you because I didn’t have access to that. You have the other side, my partner, who’s a great example of somebody who tries to teach me but gets so frustrated, like, “I don’t understand why your hands don’t press the buttons when they are supposed to.” I go, “I don’t know either.”
We started playing Kingdom Hearts because he knew I would love it because I’m a huge Disney fan. When we are playing Kingdom Hearts, for the first hour of playing, I would scream, “Magic,” at the screen. I would press buttons and forget which button it was assigned to, so I would yell, “Do magic.” Spoiler, this does not work. They do not program the games to be able to work like that.
For him, it’s a very frustrating experience, and then that takes away the fun for me because now I’m sitting here all upset like, “I couldn’t even play a game good.” Versus when I do that on stream and yell magic at the screen, whatever do you think I’m doing, I’m like, “This is the experience. I don’t know how to press this button.”
I’m sure there are more people that are like me who are either ADHD, dyslexia or any other disability that prevents you from doing what the screen is clearly telling you to do. If you have proper hand-eye coordination, it’s not difficult for you to do. It is freaking difficult for me but I am not alone and I’m not the only one. I’m here telling you it’s okay.
This is how I experience raiding and AoE’s. I scream.
I’m like, “No.”
You should watch me playing Smash.
I am so bad at that.
To be fair to my partner, I’ve gotten pretty decent playing Zero Suit Samus. I say pretty decently, not pretty low on the totem pole there. When I started playing Smash, I would scream, “Punch or ow. Don’t hit me. How dare you?” People literally stopped inviting me to their house, and I was devastated because I didn’t know how to not close my mouth. I don’t understand how to not tell you that I’m hitting you right now. It doesn’t make sense to me if I’m pressing a button, and that’s creating an action on the screen. Sorry.
All of these things though, you are presenting them to us like their shortcomings but if you are streaming like me, sitting there methodically owning the controller and doing everything right is less entertaining than you saying, “Magic. Jump. Smash. Ow.” When I’m playing God of War, which is the game I’m working through now, I have to remind myself to have any feelings toward the enemies so that my stream has something to watch other than this guy in the corner that’s like, “You are dead,” with his eyes but not his words.
I became a Professor when that game came out in 2018, I missed it. I need to have that in my mind as part of my gaming myth. This is turning something that maybe you are not comfortable with but you are putting it into a context where it’s exactly what you are aiming for. It’s a superpower, lacking Geek Therapy.
Another thing both of you made me think of that I want to share is that the majority of revenue game sold hours played are casual games and on smart devices, not consoles, not PC. The people who play those in high volumes wouldn’t even identify themselves as gamers because they are not traditionally gamers. They won’t be sitting on a couch or in a chair with a screen like this with an MMO game or with a Final Fantasy VII Remake.
One more thing I thought is that whole vulnerability of playing in front of people, I feel it, too. When I get stuck, I’m in an escape room but instead of my five friends knowing that I can’t figure out a puzzle, it’s everyone who’s watching me on Twitch. I’m like, “Why would they watch me be stuck for 40 minutes?” I would much rather be stuck in that room and be bad at figuring out that room than be pointed out like a jerk and be bad at friendliness. There’s my shot fire. Take that, internet. I’ve got your back, M.
You made me think of your gaming motivation scores. Like all of our guests have done since we started our format with guests, you have a very high immersion score for your motivation. When we ask, “What’s your gaming persona and what are the things that make you connect with games?” you mentioned the story.
Story is definitely one of those immersion categories. By the way, the other categories like action, mastery, and achievement all fall below that 50% mark, so they are there but in low quantities. You do have that middle of the road social and creativity score, too. Have you ever thought about yourself with this kind of data-driven, “This is how I play games?”You don't have to be a hardcore gamer to say that you're a gamer. Click To Tweet
I was so excited to see this. Spoilers, we are going to talk about the 16Personalities test. When I had done it and many times, it was like, “I have opinions on this.” This one, I was like, “That is not at all how I view myself as a gamer but now it is. It makes sense.” Unless it’s literally a puzzle game like Tetris, I lose interest so fast in games that do not have a story that brings me through the teaching mode. The first few stages are teaching you how to play the game.
If there’s not a story connecting that or if I can detect the story is baloney and it wasn’t like Skyward Sword where they are like, “Your bird is lost,” and you are like, “I don’t care about this bird. I met this bird for two-millisecond. Who is this bird?” Immersion is very important to me, which also makes sense why I’m obsessed with Kingdom Hearts or why I love Final Fantasy. Those make sense. You are part of that world. They create a space for you. They create a space for you to feel with that character.
That being said, Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece. I do love watching Legends of Zelda, and I love that aspect that you feel like the protagonist. All respect to that, Skyward Sword is a bad example of a Zelda game. I have clearly insulted the Skyward Sword, so I don’t know if anybody is picked up on that yet. I could see the immersion part. It’s a huge driver for me. I love playing games socially. I love goofing around in Mario Party and kicking your butt in Mario Kart poorly. All those things are fun to me. I play Tetris 99 more than I ever played any Tetris in the entirety of my life. I love Tetris 99.
Whenever I have to educate about the structure of a video game, I use Tetris in my lectures, and usually, I animate it too for students and not gamer types. It’s such a perfect video game environment to explain how the mind reacts to gaming phenomena, stimuli, and whatnot.
It’s an exciting time. Tetris is amazing. They have proven with research the amount of benefits Tetris playing has. That was another thing that when I had read the research that Tetris helps people prevent PTSD, if you have played Tetris after a traumatizing event, I was like, “That explains my entire childhood.” I would literally lock myself in my room playing Tetris after going through an argument. It was such a self-soothing thing that I was like, “I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I was literally distracting myself with something that had not only nothing to do with the argument but that used a different aspect of my brain.” I could talk about Tetris for a while, too.
It’s an eternal well of therapeutic metaphors as well because, in Tetris, the goal is not to let things pile up, bury, overflow, and destroy you. If you keep playing, even when the screen starts to go bad because of how the flow works and how you are invested in keeping that screen clearing itself out, you coach yourself into being resilient, persevering, and not giving up. Also, believing, “Maybe I can still get this.”
These are all messages that I’m trying to get people in a real-world context all the time to say them out loud and believe them. Tetris makes you believe them until you crash, but then you get to try again. In the physical world, you don’t always get to immediately try again, and you certainly don’t always get to do that without consequence. That’s one reason video games might even be better at doing certain things than some of the challenges we have in life. I love Tetris, too.
It was the first game I had on Game Boy, original.
All this history for the three of us bringing people, meeting, talking about Tetris, is there anything in the gaming landscape that you find fascinating, whether it’s accessibility features or different resurgence of certain game types for you as a player or as a Twitch partner? Things that are exciting for you these days.
The excitement is how immersive games have become and how other people get to experience them with us through Twitch. That is cool. There’s a lot to be said about the parasocial relationships on Twitch and all that. That’s a separate topic. Accessibility is huge, and we are in such a space with that. I find that to be so cool.
Maybe it’s because I have been on Twitch for a few years, and I have been dating a gamer for over thirteen years now. A lot of things evolved on their own. The efforts that people have put in that studios are now putting in to make it so that more people could play their games is pretty cool. I feel like we are moving further away from a thing of like, “Games are for boys. There is a lot about taking women for hostage or running them over with your car.”
We are moving further and further, in my opinion, away from that space and towards a space that’s like, “There’s a game for everybody. It might not be the one you immediately want to play. That might not be the best game for you to start with but everybody can find a game to play now. That is cool.” Things to AbleGamers, there are tools out there for people with different accessibility to be able to play. It’s an awesome time where games are finally recognized as the medium, the same way books weren’t recognized at some point for all the potential that they are. It’s a cool time. I’m excited to be here.
One of the things for me that’s tough that video games still are dealing with is the fact that they occur on screens. Anytime we have a new way of exposing ourselves to media and things, there’s this moralistic outcry like, “This is going to bring the downfall of our youth.” I don’t see it. I was writing something about Pokémon’s psychology. I had to write why Pokémon has resonated with me. I have been playing those games since I was about twelve years old.
I ended the blurb with, “I don’t even know if I would be Dr. Kaufmann without Pokémon.” You remove a video game that I played twenty years before this academic accomplishment. I love the butterfly effect or anything tiny-winey. A lot of this argument against screen time and hating all of it is so short-sighted because video games open up my imagination and all kinds of lessons.
Like I talked about with Tetris, “Hang in there and see what you can do.” It’s an important superpower. I don’t know if there are too many better ways to learn that in a world where everything is on a screen. All of my jobs. My podcast is happening on a screen. Am I going to get in trouble with the screen time gods later?
I wrote an article about this that was published on Take This’ blog about how moral panic has changed throughout the years. It was kids playing pinball, women reading, and rap music. There’s always something silly, and now it’s video games because that is the thing that’s in the zeitgeist that people from other generations don’t understand enough. “That must be it. I got it.”
Not to spoil the end of it but we want simple answers to questions that are not simple at all like, “Why do people commit school shootings?” Any atrocious thing that happens in this world. We want to be able to point at something and be like, “That’s why. Take that out. World is perfect.” There are so many of those memes on Twitter and Facebook that are like, “The world without Facebook,” and it’s the future.
Many people want that to be the reality of, “Remove Marilyn Manson from music, and kids are perfect. None of them are satanists.” Not that there’s anything wrong with the satanists. We want simple answers to questions that are not simple at all, that are literally about the core of our humanity. We are not going to get them that way but we are going to continue thinking we can and we are going to continue poking at stuff that doesn’t make sense to us to be like, “That’s it. That’s the one. I’ve got it this time.”
It’s so interesting that you brought up the Marilyn Manson thing because I remember that was the other moral panic at the same time I was begging to get Pokémon Yellow for the Game Boy color.
There’s so much. I remember all that and being like, “Is anybody asking the kids?” I don’t know any kid that is actively like, “Yeah, it was M&M.” If they are, it’s not because they actually understand. They are just trying to find blame so that you lay off of them. That’s a separate thing, I guess.Video games are supposed to make you feel a part of that world. They create a space for you to feel with that character. Click To Tweet
We could talk forever. I have to resist the goal of making that happen. Jenny, your question is next.
Are there any topics these days that you get excited to talk about or that you are hoping to add to your content goals?
Nobody has asked me that before. I want people to look at me in a broader sense. I’m not just a person with depression and anxiety who talks about my depression and anxiety. I’m also not a person who sucks up video games, and that’s it. I’m also not a person who’s a yoga instructor, and that’s it. I’m not any single one of those things. I’m all of those things.
I would love for people to look at me for different aspects of me and not just like, “She’s the mental health talk show host.” For a very long time, I ran away from that. I still am because we wear these labels. They are good at explaining us but don’t explain all of us. People cling on to them like, “I’ve got it. I figured you out because this is the label you have.” It’s not wrong but it’s not all of it. Yeah, that.
I share a similar perspective where I’m trying to teach people about diagnostic labels. I was teaching my internship students and we were talking about a particularly difficult case. They were all hung up on which diagnosis it was, and it was coming down to three specific ones in a closely related cluster. I’m the faculty there and I’m listening to this. Their ideas are pretty good for people who are new to the field, and they are getting their field experience.
I had to share with them, “It all comes down to trauma, and it doesn’t change what you are going to do in treatment, regardless of which 1 of these 3 things you pick. It’s not going to change the medication, and if it does, that’s the psychiatrist’s responsibility, not yours. You are the counselor.” Label is a label but the context changes everything. I hope that they remember that for at least the next twenty years. If they don’t, I will be very cross with them if I ever find out.
I do some work with the diagnostic side with games. The World Health Organization decided that they are going in that direction that there is a gaming disorder. I’m working with the APA to talk about whether our side of things is going to have that. I have my opinions about that but at the end of the day, I don’t think it matters. It’s not going to change the world by adding another set of pages with text to a book.
What we need to do is understand the context of, “Why can a game completely halt all forward progression in a person’s life?’ For example, Valorant is the only thing that matters. It could be very fun to play Valorant, and you could get things from what you accomplish in that game when you turn it on until the time you turn it off. Hopefully, there’s something else there inside you that you can use and cultivate. There are people out here that want to see you do that, too.
It’s more relational. We are more than one thing. Society gets stuck thinking labels matter because then we can categorize and you move on to something that’s more important with our time. It prevents genuine interaction. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir but the audience isn’t the choir. Another thing I want to ask you, M, is, are there any games in particular that have caused any change in how you view the world?
I’m going to go back to my Kingdom Hearts. I always knew then, and I said that I’m more than my mental health issues and diagnoses. That game showed me that there is a mainstream space for me, even though I’m a person who is not neurotypical and has depression and anxiety. That was cool. In the sense that there are some situations where Sora’s friends are around him and I’m like, “They can’t name that what he’s experiencing is a depressive episode. I’m not going to diagnose him right, so I’m not going to say that.”
I could relate to what he was going through as though it was a depressive episode. I saw how his friends interacted with him, and they still loved, appreciated, and told him it was going to be okay. Without pushing him, forcing him to feel something that he wasn’t feeling. I was like, “That’s a reality.” It’s not a reality at all. That’s the irony of it. You can experience the world that way. People can see you not going through an easy time and still be your friend. That was mind blowing to me at the time.
I don’t want to spoil Birth by Sleep too much. There is a whole sequence where Aqua is trapped in darkness for ten years, and there are voices around her telling her that she’s not good enough and her friends don’t like her. If you could look me in the eye and tell me that it’s not a metaphor for depression, I will probably laugh at you and be like, “Maybe you know better but I think it is.”
You are in the right conversation.
She’s literally pulled into the darkness, goes deeper and deeper, and hears less and less until she feels nothing. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about the game. Your goal is you are fighting all this darkness back until you can’t anymore. Watching that, I was like, “There is a way to bring mental health information to people without beating them over the head with it.”
At no point do they say, “I’m Aqua. I’m depressed.” At no point do they say, “This is what depression looks like.” Life Is Strange is amazing but it does beat you over the head like, “This is the suicidal intention, suicidal ideation.” It was a beautiful game that expressed, “People go through dark times. You don’t have to name them. You don’t have to put a label on them. They still suck. They still have friends who love them and are going to come and try to help them through it.” That changed how I looked at it.
Long before we had psychology or science in an organized way, we had people traveling from city to city telling the myths and the tales of different societies that were developing. That’s how we passed on moral codes, belief systems, even messages about how to believe in ourselves, how we interface with nature or gods, the dominant force of power and existence.
If you tell people in the nowadays modern landscape with technology, social media, and all these other things to cut out video games, what will end up happening is they will not have those messages about Aqua overcoming darkness but they will have Keeping Up with the Kardashians. That has a little bit shaded that show.
That’s not the point if that’s what you are hung up on. I’m just saying that one is aiming for a message to also teach people to have a philosophical foundation for how they see life. To see the metaphor and bring it into something that means something. Whereas the other is just, “Sit on your couch and watch this.”
Sometimes we need that but you also need the brain food and the sneaky brain food that you are like, “This is making me think about stuff. I thought it was just zoning out but now I’m thinking about it.”
You did the thing. I always forget that it’s okay to do that. I’m always like, “Let’s do the Kingdom Hearts thing.”There is a way to bring mental health information to people without beating them over the head with it. Click To Tweet
You are explaining that story, the visualization of that, and how beautifully you described that, it’s so clear to me that immersion is important to you. It’s hard for me to get into stories and video games. When I do, it’s magic. It’s not like the first thing that draws me into video games. Describing the game like that that’s what videogames can do to people, and that’s amazing. I love it.
We focused on so many good topics. I want to put this last point in. We also talked about personality types on our show. That’s where my research life started, gaming motivation profiles and personality. You, M, are the first friend to come on this show that has an E in their personality type. You are the first official Gaming Persona extroverted guest.
Good for me or bad for me, I don’t know. It depends on how you look at it.
It’s wonderful. It shatters the illusion that I’m a snob, and I only talk with INTJ, who’s in academia or something.
We have had three INTJ guests, and he is an INTJ.
ENFJ all the way, T. I know what the other ones stand for but I don’t know what the T stands for. T is Tenacious?
There are certain versions of this instrument where people add extra questions to bring in concepts from other tools. The T has to do with how you handle stressful situations. That indicates to me that you are very goal-oriented and will follow through but also will worry about things, have attention to detail, and maybe apologize for getting stuck in a video game. Not the worst thing.
The opposite of that would be an A, which is for self-assurance. They would not be as likely to pay attention to those details but also apologize because they are good with that. They are not going to do that. Just a little bit of personality dichotomy there. It’s cool the way that you connect with the games.
I’m so fascinated with this idea of what is Skyward Sword doing to people who have your particular profile? I haven’t played it yet. It’s on my list of games I missed being in academics. It’s definitely there for me. It’s going to happen. Now I’m curious because I don’t have too many perspectives on what to expect.
Check out my Beginner Game Review on it. I don’t spoil much. I just talk about if the tutorial is easy to understand and get through but you could watch me struggle. Have fun.
That’s what I’m all about, enjoying watching people struggle. While we wrap up, M, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. You have been a wonderful guest. I can’t wait to get this out to people because it’s such a good conversation. I want to give you a chance now. Where can our audience find you?
The easiest way to find me is to go on Mxiety.com. From there, you can find all my other stuff and resources that I have compiled for peeps. I’m also on Twitch. I’m on Twitter all the heck and time. Search for Mxiety all over the interwebs. I would love more Beginner Game Reviews subscribers because we haven’t gotten to that 100 yet, so I don’t have that cool, fancy, vanity URL. Please go look up Beginner Game Reviews on YouTube. Hit that subscribe button. I promise I will give you a good belly laugh. That’s where you can find me. Mxiety all over the place.
I just subscribed to your Beginner Game Reviews.
Thank you. You can’t hear but I’m blushing.
That 100 is a big milestone because it opens up options, and your ability to make your YouTube page matters. Anyone who’s reading who hasn’t gone through the pain of trying to get 100 people to subscribe, it’s a real thing. If you are here, jump over to YouTube and subscribe. I fully endorse that channel. You are on The Gaming Persona. Jenny, do you have any parting thoughts before we wrap up the interview portion?
It has been such a pleasure to meet you. I’m so excited to have you.
Pleasure is all mine. Thank you. I feel like you didn’t get to say much, so I’m sorry if I spoke too much.
It’s fine. I was enthralled by everything you had to say, so it’s all good.
You are so sweet. Thank you kindly.
Thank you so much for coming on. You were definitely one of the people when we started doing guests, so I was like, “I want to make that happen,” and it happened. The conversation was much fun for me as well. Thank you for taking the time to add us to your schedule.
Thank you so much. I appreciate you very much.
Let’s go on the return, where we go back to our daily lives and take our next step forward. Jenny, I know our thoughts can go whatever direction we want but what are you thinking about?
That was so much fun. Why did it take this long to have an extroverted guest on our show?
I am, in fact, this snob who doesn’t talk to extroverts very much. I don’t know.
That was such a great episode. I cannot wait for everyone to read it.
Some of the back and forth, it felt to me like I was sharing exactly my perception of what I see when I get to interact with M and the content she puts out there. For a person who hasn’t done all of this academic stuff, we talked about what side of the aisle I’m on when I open my mouth.
That scary doctor.
Her perspective is so solid. I appreciate that. It was fun for us to have that conversation on the show. Jenny, I want to give you major props because you bring that to The Gaming Persona every week as well. When I come up and be like, “Such and such publication in 2017,” and then you always bring it back. You are such a key ingredient to helping what we talk about be relatable and useful to people. I like that so much. It’s one of those cool things where I get to talk with a new person for me, and then I get to bring you into it. That blows up how much fun I have.
Another episode where you where you too Flow.
With one of our episodes, we broke down the different components and factors in Flow. The way that conversation went and all the different games, we had Tetris, Kingdom Hearts. M listed so many in that middle part there that I have never played. One of them was like a dog thing that’s better than Plants vs. Zombies. Life Is Strange got to mention, which is not one of our usual games in the list. I missed it. Someday I will play it and be like, “How did I miss this?” That’s why we do the show.
The whole episode, time goes by so fast.
We have been doing this for definitely more than a year. Our episodes are getting close to that 52, which is weekly for a year. I’m excited to see what happens next for a show, the more broad philosophical next.
I love our show.
It’s funny, though, I get to put this in my faculty portfolio that I do this. Isn’t that so cool? The idea that I was able to talk with you and we have this realization when I come off of routine cast for a couple of months. I’m like, “Jenny, this could be a show.” It’s like, “That’s so much work,” and now we are here.
Forty-eight episodes later.
Do you have any final thoughts, some of the bigger moments in our interview with Mxiety?
When she was talking about the game that caused the most change in how she views the world, that’s when I’ve got most starry eyed. I say this all the time, I love hearing how other people view gaming and what they get out of it. I have never played Kingdom Hearts, so I don’t know the story. I have watched you play. You streamed it for a little bit.
I put it on critical difficulty, and it was watching me die over and over.
I didn’t get that out of it. It’s so fascinating to me how unique everyone’s perspective is.
Personality style plays into that too and what you felt. Her description of Birth by Sleep and then Aqua’s solo story, that’s a sequel to it, are two specific games in the many games of the Kingdom Hearts lore. Having that ENFJ approach is particularly the F and noticing the emotional meaning and overtones that play out in the characters and their situations. She nailed that description.
We have asked a question like that for all of our guests but the energy and perspective in her answer hits home for me why it’s important to consider personality when you are trying to connect with people. We have heard the INTJ version of how awesome Ocarina of Time is many times on this show. I am an INTJ who loves Kingdom Hearts but that description of Aqua, her journey, and what she has to overcome is not a part of the story that resonated with me. It makes me want to go back and play it.
I’m an INFJ. We have some similarities in our personalities but my motivations are different. I don’t get immersed in the story as she does. It’s so cool.
Playing and watching Kingdom Hearts, it is a philosophy 101 through 409 in your college degree. Even if you are playing it, you are watching it. It makes you sit there and watch. You end up feeling wiser because you help Sora find Kingdom Hearts and overcome the darkness.
If I’m intentional about story and lore like I have been doing with Final Fantasy this last expansion, I definitely do get into it and can feel things like that.
It’s such a good episode. I’m blown away. I’m so glad we’ve got to do this. I have one last quest for everyone to collect for the day. Be the light and continue the journey.
See you next time.
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About Marie Shanley / Mxiety
Marie Shanley, aka Mxiety, is a mental health advocate using her personal experience living with Depression, Anxiety, and ADHD to create a space to be nice to yourself, learn, and be the light to others. By sharing her story of recovery, she hopes to help others think beyond what they expect mental health to mean.
Her work has been featured by To Write Love On Her Arms, The Mighty, Take This, Tiny Buddha, and more. Her debut book, a collection of essays entitled Well That Explains It was published in 2019. She’s a public speaker, particularly on topics relating to mental health, community, and gaming, and live show host on Twitch with a community full of welcoming, warm, smart, curious folks from all walks of life.