I’m 9 years outdated, operating dwelling from faculty. I’m operating as a result of I do know if I decelerate I’m giving my bullies an opportunity to meet up with me. We all stay inside 4 metropolis blocks of one another and take the identical method dwelling.

Home isn’t far however each second counts. I run via a crimson mild, a automotive stops on a dime and the driving force leans on her horn. My eyes are stinging. I’m panting. Finally I attain the entrance doorways of my mother’s condominium, jam my key within the lock, pull the door closed behind me and sprint into the elevator. I don’t breathe till I’m via the door and shut my blinds. I exhale and the tears fall.

Primary faculty was a nightmare for me, a tall, awkward, chubby woman with quick hair. I didn’t relate to different youngsters and was a straightforward goal, however there was one place the place I did really feel secure and safe: enjoying The Sims. I might go browsing as quickly as I obtained dwelling, solely breaking for dinner and homework, and would create fantasy worlds the place bullies did not exist, mother and father didn’t cut up up, and I wasn’t a loser. I might create myself as an grownup Sim and on days once I was feeling tremendous low, use all of the cheat codes obtainable to me to make sure that all my wants have been met 24/7.

The Sims helped make my life manageable—it made me, in some methods, resilient. I knew that regardless of how dangerous issues obtained at college I may at all times come dwelling to a (digital) life that was freed from bullies. Arguably, it’s what stored me smiling as I sat within the library alone at lunch, or endured conferences with a principal who was decided to not consider me, or when my mother and father held my chilly, sweaty body late at night time after actually dangerous nightmares.

The Sims 4: City Living growth pack neighbourhood the place you may have your Sims stay in residences. I’ve purchased this growth pack for each single Sims recreation I may. Screengrab: Lisa Cumming

Playing The Sims remained a coping mechanism for me years after the bullying stopped. Even now, eight years later, when my anxiousness flares up, I instinctively flip to it, and having spent quite a lot of time on mod boards, locations the place different “simmers” submit content material associated to the sport, I do know I’m not alone.

Read More: I Couldn’t Get Pregnant So I Played The Sims 4

Bullying continues to be frighteningly frequent: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research launched some statistics about it in 2012 and located that 1 in 3 adolescent college students, at the least, reported being bullied just lately. In that very same research, the CIHR cited analysis displaying that bullying can doubtlessly enhance the chance of suicidal ideas in younger folks.

Video video games get a foul rap for resulting in despair in younger folks. But a few of these video games can truly function a coping mechanism. Researcher Sally Merry, a professor of kid and adolescent psychiatry on the University of Auckland, thinks that the hyperlink between display time and a rise in despair, which different research have discovered, isn’t fairly there.

“I’m not positive that there’s sturdy knowledge to point out display time will increase despair, though younger folks can spend extra time on screens than is advisable,” she wrote me in an electronic mail. “Like most issues, stability is required, and the precise content material of what it being executed on screens is essential.”

Merry is the principal investigator on a group behind a fantasy recreation to assist younger folks coping with anxiousness and despair. SPARX is a job enjoying recreation, like The Sims; you management a personality and have them work together with the world. It’s based mostly on cognitive behavioural remedy, a type of psychotherapy that helps folks develop abilities for turning into and staying wholesome. In the sport, you information your character via this world and have them resolve issues utilizing coping mechanisms you might make use of IRL.

My Sims household’s condominium is far greater than any condominium I’ve ever lived in. Screengrab: Lisa Cumming

“It teaches strategies for leisure, for downside fixing, for utilizing actions to enhance temper and to recognise and problem destructive ideas,” wrote Merry.

“It additionally consists of some info on combating social anxiousness, and fairly a little bit of training on despair, its prevalence and certain course,” she instructed me. In essence, the sport is meant to present younger folks the instruments they should cope.

Merry isn’t advocating for utilizing escapism as the only technique to resolve your issues—there’s story after story about how that goes badly. But for me and some others I’ve met, escapism via simulation video games is, or was, a technique to really feel in management when issues are going south.

“Actually doing issues is one good software for managing low temper,” Merry instructed me. “This could possibly be enjoying pc video games like The Sims, or hanging out with mates, or cooking or doing train. For every particular person, it’s good to work out what works for them.”

As for me, I didn’t ever handle to truly stand as much as my bullies, however that wasn’t who I used to be as a child. And I don’t discover it shocking that, at my most tense occasions, I nonetheless flip to The Sims.

Get six of our favourite Motherboard tales every single day by signing up for our e-newsletter .

This article sources info from Motherboard