Sigmund Freud would have loved video games.
Think about it: video games are the chance to see yourself in a new reality, exploring and sublimating your repressed violent childhood fantasies, and often sexual desires, in a virtual world. Freud’s therapy was, in fact, all about exploring the unconscious, which was supposedly littered with repressed ideas and primitive desires both sexual and violent. With boobs, fast cars, children, blood, guts, and boobs, the wild and random world of video games can represent each of the various parts of Freud’s psychosexual stages. Plus, I think he’d be really into Final Fantasy.
This got me thinking (which is hard to do): what would Freud think of you, the reader and gamer with a super-perverted unconscious, based solely on your gaming preferences? Well, I took an intro-psych class my freshman year of college. There was only one lecture on Freud, but it was a long lecture—and Freud would be the first one to give a reason for respecting long things. So bring your laptop over to a comfortable couch, lie down, and enjoy, as I reveal what your gaming unconscious reveals about you.
Category 1: Platforms
PlayStation: It’s a solid console, with a good pedigree. And after the PS4 basically won E3 this year, a PlayStation “player” may be pretty confident in herself. However, what really separates the PlayStation experience from the rest of the gaming world is one, and only one, thing: its buttons. Instead of using letters like any sane piece of equipment like “a” or “b,” it uses simples shapes like circles, squares, and triangles that you’d find on a children’s wooden peg game. Playing a PlayStation is effectively reverting to a time in life before language—before intricate and complex thought. The console perfectly lets you revert to a simpler time, which is satisfying to many gamers for many reasons, which are all what psychologists call “not paying rent.”
-Diagnosis: In essence, if you play on this console, you seek returning to childhood.
-Treatment: Play a big amount of Little Big Planet, the childish PlayStation exclusive.
Xbox: Now is an interesting time for the Xbox. It has recently undergone an identity crisis, pulling a 180 on the 360 (actually more like a 359) with the reveal of Xbox One. The premier was less than stellar, but Microsoft has responded to criticism by removing the infamous DRM requirements. Possibly rising from this worrying existential battle, the inner, unconscious voice of the Xbox system and its problem are fairly easy to find—Xbox Live. The console’s online servers serve as a battleground between the random blabberings of sad 20-somethings and sad 5 or somethings alike. And the war of whining seems to return back to one subject: mothers. It’s a lot of “your mom” this or “your mom” that. Simply put, the Xbox is a cesspool of Oedipal complexes.
-Diagnosis: Identity crises resulting from a deep-seeded network of Oedipal complexes.
-Treatment: Play a lot of Halo 4 and pretend Cortana is your mother—trust me, you won’t want to see her or hear her voice ever again.
PC: If you use an updated computer, you’re still probably trying to figure out how to use Windows 8 and haven’t played any games in a while.
-Treatment: Again, revert to your childhood—the superb Windows XP.
Catgory 2: Games
Mario Party: So your idea of “partying” is playing board games with Italian plumbers for very, very long periods of time?
-Diagnosis: social anxiety
-Treatment: go for the ‘shrooms at parties. They can make you more social (in-game, of course).
Pac-Man: The goal of the game is to get fatter. You must eat, and eat, and eat. And the only supposed problem is ghosts that appear probably from your imagination, which try to make you stop eating. And how do you solve this eating problem? By eating it, of course.
-Diagnosis: eating disorder
-Treatment: Move to America. There you will fit in—not only because of your eating habits, but also because sorting through the medical insurance system to treat complications from your eating habits is like a maze too.
Need for Speed: too easy
Time Crisis: too easy
-Diagnosis: Developmental crisis
StarCraft: After waiting anxiously for more than a decade for the series’ second installment, StarCraft has become more than a sport—it’s a way of life. Known for its popularity in South Korea, the game’s intensity has gotten to a point where some players try to raise their actions per minute (APM, it’s basically a measure of how fast you can click) via the use of sandbags with their wrists.
-Treatment: Construct additional pylons
Assassin’s Creed: Among deadly canon fire, slicing broadswords, or arrows shot from rooftop guards, the heroes of Assassin’s Creed often seem to take stupidly oblivious moments to themselves in order to look up and dream of being an Eagle, soaring in the clouds. You could tell that Ezio especially always wanted to fly in addition to looking super fly (which they all do). Here’s what Freud had to say about flying dreams, according to some graduate students: “Among the examples he offers are the extremely short woman who frequently dreamed of floating a few feet above the ground; the sexually-inspired dreams of German-speakers familiar with a particular German vulgarity, which provided association between birds and sex…”
-Diagnosis: Height or Flight Envy
-Treatment: Grow a few inches (in which areas depends on a more specific diagnosis)
Call of Duty: What will probably be the most popular FPS of all time has conquered almost every era of war in this and the last century. Known for its vast online presence, what is the most interesting aspect of CoD players is an inherent and fascinatingly odd fear and anger towards “campers.” They must all be city-folk.
Diagnosis: Fear of nature. The technical term is “Treeson.”
Treatment: Staying inside, playing video games, and checking the weather channel every now and then for a view outside your window you can’t afford to take.
Category 3: The Non-Gamer
The Non-Gamer: In all my experience as a Freudian psychologist, which spans the length of the time it took me to write this article, I have never come across a case as hopeless as the people who simply enjoy real life. By taking part in cartoony or less-cartoony violence and naughtiness in the virtual world, gamers undergo psychoanalytical therapy every day, drawing up their unconscious in a healthy manner. Non-gamers however do not even take that first step. They live obliviously, often casting gamers as immature or prone to the violence they commit in virtual reality. In reality, psychological (not Freudian) tests show there aren’t many detriments linked with playing video games. Plus, they cannot determine whether or not exposure to violent video games would ever be a direct cause of violence in ordinary life. In fact, playing games can help people make faster, yet equally accurate, decisions in real life—just like therapy sessions. So the non-gamer is the worst patient of all—they are non-believers, unwilling to step into the realm of the unconscious for their own good.
Diagnosis: Unwilling to explore diagnosis or treatment options
Treatment: Game on!