Jungian Psychology of Gaming - Sticking to Your Conquest in Both Gaming & Reality

By: Krista H. Renella

Every so often, our doubts, fears, and pain can leave us feeling powerless. These feelings can take on an extremely powerful life of their own. That's the exact moment when we should continue the conquest.... no matter how small or weak we may feel. In both Gaming and Reality, we may need a little help - like an outsider's insight or view point - to lead us in the best direction.


Besides being a Marriage and Family Therapist I'm also a fan of video games, movies, art, and technology. I didn't have much time for video games during the past few years (being a non stop college student), but I am finally returning to enjoy more strategy and role-play games since they are healthy sublimations of "real world" stress and anxiety. 

I understand what high school and college students go through with deciding on their futures and making life-changing choices. I've been there! It's stressful, confusing, and overwhelming at times. The last semester of my undergrad and last two semesters of my graduate programs left me feeling like just giving up. Luckily, I didn't! There was something that kept my motivation level up and inspired me to keep going... Maybe you may have experienced this?

What I've learned from those difficult and overwhelming times is that if we continuously choose to avoid and distract ourselves from painful emotions through certain means (ie. drugs, alcohol, sex, procrastination, gambling, food, superficial relationships), the fear and pain will ultimately track us down one day, and will only pop up in other parts of our lives.

Gamers know that we can't "outrun" certain negative experiences in the game world. We just have to face them and if we "die" we know that we have another chance to rebuild, recreate, and re socialize. Ironically, some gamers fail to realize and incorporate this in their real every-day lives. It takes courage to face the challenges that are in front of us... in whatever form they may take. Sticking to the game, by finding our strengths and understanding our weaknesses is what games are about. Real-life is very much similar... with some courage and motivation gamers can find purpose and meaning. At least this is what I think.

In the early 1900's, psychoanalyst, Carl G. Jung, proposed that life symbols/archetypes: (heroes, villains, witches, wise old man/woman, side-kick, trickster, dragons, beasts, etc.) are within each of our minds and have been passed down at an unconscious level which is called our 'collective unconscious'. We are each attracted to certain symbols and images because they represent each us to some degree or they may also symbolize what we fear, hate, love, are confused by, etc. 

By being unconscious, and not apparent to our conscious mind, these symbols come to us in dreams, our daily thoughts or fantasies, and art/movies/video games. These symbols can give us info into who we really are and the obstacles/fears/struggles that we must overcome in order to survive and make life worth living.

The choices we make to play a specific video game and the effort exerted to win (to truly push oneself to find the right path) usually (and irronically) comes with finding the WRONG path. This is just one important fact of life! We make mistakes to grow from them and choose better the next time around. 

Now, let me ask you, what happens if you choose the wrong path in your real-life? Do you give up and refuse to try again? Or do you attempt to learn from the mistakes that were made and look for ways to motivate yourself to try again? 

If you find that you often get stuck and refuse to try again because of fear or shame, getting counseling can help by tapping into your unknown strengths and skills. Counseling gives an alternate path and opens up your scope of vision. It doesn't mean that you are weaker or stronger for receiving some assistance/guidance in the game-world. You just take the advise and assistance from certain characters/objects without even thinking about it, right? So you could say the same in the real-world - courage comes from finding the right assistance/resources and incorporating them into your "conquest", whatever that conquest is for you in your life. 

Gamers are some of the smartest/bravest people I know because they can test their own boundaries and, most importantly, they also grow from negative experiences. Many know that getting stuck or lost in a game is only temporary. If everyone knew this same thing about LIFE then failures and mistakes wouldn't be as debilitating. We would be able to see their value in teaching us to look for new ways to succeed. Looking for some guidance when we are stuck or in trouble can help us to accomplish personal goals, build memorable relationships, and push ourselves to higher levels than we could have ever imagined possible.

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