Let’s Play! – Video Game Culture, Intersectionality, and the Purpose of Play
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In 2021, it is estimated that around 284 million people were playing video games at some point in the United States. While some individuals may identify as a “gamer,” others might feel more inclined to describe themselves as someone who plays games. Mobile games have taken over the video game market and are the most widely played format of any video game currently due to their accessibility, portability, and vastly utilized marketing systems by their developers. Mental health providers working with children, adolescents, and adults of all ages may encounter video game play in their clients as a form of fun, a parallel to some other issue in their life (Kriss, 2020), a way to cope with loneliness (Zhu et. al., 2021) or escape from stress, or socially engage with others; yet video games, gaming culture, and those that play games continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized by those both in and outside of the gaming community(Isaacson, 2012). Therapists may be ill equipped to have conversations about video games, need to uncover and address their biases toward gaming, and learn about the digital worlds and spaces their clients are navigating. This workshop will aim to inform mental health providers about the history of how gaming culture has grown, research on gaming and the purpose of gameplay, and how video games relate to multiculturalism and intersectionality. Providers will be given information to help decide whether or not gaming behavior is healthy and beneficial (Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006; Bean, 2018) or potentially harmful(Kutner & Olson, 2008).