LOS ANGELES — Online gaming has become a source of solace and support for a mother and daughter duo, shedding light on the often-overlooked benefits of virtual worlds.
Shamaila Younus and her mother, Diana, have found comfort and respite in LivePlay Bingo, an interactive online game show that has provided them with a community during challenging times.
“It was a little depressing during the pandemic because my mom and I were homeless and stuff,” Shamaila said. “So, I was looking on the app store and I wanted something to keep me occupied just to lift my spirits a little.”
Based in Los Angeles, LivePlay Bingo offers players the opportunity to engage with live hosts 24 hours a day, fostering a sense of connection and camaraderie. The game is free to play with the option to purchase add-ons if desired. For Shamaila, the game provided a much-needed break from the weight of her battles with mental health issues, including an eating disorder.
“Being that I deal with mental health everyday basis, people don’t understand what it’s like,” she said. “It’s kind of like really inspired me wanting to get better with my mental health.”
Diana said playing the game had also had a positive impact on her mental well-being.
“I do temp as a teacher, and I worry sometimes how I’m going to get the money there, but they helped me that my stress is not so bad,” she shared.
While online gaming has often faced criticism for its potential negative effects on mental health, recent studies have unveiled surprising benefits. Research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that online gaming is positively associated with higher levels of self-esteem and social support, as well as lower levels of negative affect, anxiety and depression.
For LivePlay Bingo host Kelly Miyahara, the connection is a two-way street.
“It’s kind of crazy to think that when I come to work, my mood, my lack of a better word performance impacts people,” she said.
Miyahara recalled the moment she realized the profound impact that the game has had on players’ lives after a player confided in her about their suicidal thoughts and how the playing the game with her gave her hope.
“Thank you, because you saved my life,” the player expressed.
“To know they are part of something bigger than just a game, it’s really remarkable,” Miyahara said.
As the world continues to grapple with the intersection of mental health and technology, the experiences of Shamaila and Diana serve as a testament to the positive impact online gaming can have on mental well-being. By fostering connections, offering support and providing an escape from everyday challenges, online gaming platforms like LivePlay Bingo are proving to be unexpected sources of solace and strength.