The SIMS. Good or bad for a confused mind?

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Statto
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17 Sep 2014, 9:04 am

This isn't a gaming question, honest.

Right this may seem like a stupid question and I'm probably way over thinking this, but that is what I do.

My daughter loves the SIMS and very much used it as an escape. I say used to as it was taken away due to a discipline issue, well before ASD and her challenges were on the table or understood.

When she was six, that sort of age, she had imaginary friends. It was never something we worried about and thought she had grown out of it. She is 12 now and through us understanding her situation better we also now know she still has imaginary characters in her life. She has bad anxiety to a clinical level, esteem issues and perhaps some depression. Most concerning to me are these two imaginary characters that depict suicide and self harm. For a start she seems to be having difficulty separating imagination from reality. We are getting professional help as I'm happy to admit I don't have a clue what to do this or how to handle it beyond being there for her. Right now she is a scared and confused little girl.

A long set up, I know, so my question. Would playing the new Sims game, which she is desperate to do, be a good or a bad thing for her ? Bearing in mind this is a game where you create your own reality and easily bury yourself in it. She'd have spent days at a time on the old version if we didn't restrict computer time. I will ask professional advice also but I think it is important to get the input of people that may have lived this type of situation as is often a much more valuable perspective.

In fact I already have the game and planned to give it to her as a surprise the day it was released. Then this concern occurred to me and since then I've spent a lot of time over thinking it.



ASDMommyASDKid
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17 Sep 2014, 9:37 am

I do not feel remotely qualified to speak to your daughter's specific situation, so keep in mind all my comments are for a general case.

In general:

Imaginary characters can be a safe place to hash things out, especially if your real life interactions are few or generally failures. This can be true of 12 year olds as well as 6 year olds, and the ages don't raise any alarms for me.

I know people get worried about that b/c they are worried about schizophrenia. I am guessing that is your concern due to your comment about reality and fantasy. I know nothing about schizophrenia, but I would caution against assuming that just because your daughter prefers fantasy to reality that this means she can't tell the difference.

I am not remotely qualified to tease this out. I tend to think people worry more about that possibility than is warranted, but schizophrenia is a known co-morbid of ASD. In general, I think imaginary friends can be helpful and it is definitely a form of imaginative play, despite being solitary.

Immersive games can be difficult to extract oneself from, and that would be my main concern there. If she has the self-control to leave the game and do what she needs to do, then I don't see any harm. I am not a shrink, though, and I do not know if making what is in her head more concrete in a game is harmful in some way. I would think that it would not be because it is in her head anyway. I also have a strong pro-computer/pro-game bias you might want to be aware of when evaluating what I say.

Edited fr grammar and clarity.



Last edited by ASDMommyASDKid on 18 Sep 2014, 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

Statto
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17 Sep 2014, 10:21 am

Thanks.

I agree with most of what you say. Imaginary play and thought is something I'm comfortable with and agree it may be helpful. I deliberately withheld something, mainly because I'm still struggling with it, so was hoping to avoid it which I know wasn't helpful.

She claims the suicide and self harm characters are real and they at times control her. She has self harmed and had suicidal thoughts. The self harm physically is very superficial but the concern is of course what is behind that. I'm hoping this is her way of pulling the mess of confused thoughts in her brain together and as we all understand things better, her need for them will diminish but that is nothing more than hope right now.

Previously she did extract herself from the games fine but things for her have moved on. Things do seem to be starting to improve for her but I don't want to get overexcited about that yet. We do have house rules on gaming time so are set-up to extract her from games as it were, but she really needs the self control as you say. She has access to other age appropriate games. I'm also a gamer and myself have invested too many hour in games like the SIMS, so I'm trying hard not to let my own bias interfere. To be honest I think it is more likely to be helpful than unhelpful, giving her an outlet. That is just my gut feeling.

In terms of you being qualified, maybe not on paper, but I do think our collective experience does have something important to offer in these things. So thanks for the input, I appreciate it.



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17 Sep 2014, 12:44 pm

I play SIMS myself, and I don't see a problem with a 12-yr.-old playing it offline. It's probably not going to affect the imaginary friend situation one way or the other, though.



Kiriae
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17 Sep 2014, 4:19 pm

If thats her escape then you should let her play. There is no real harm as long as she attends school, does her homeworks and house chores and spends some time outside too. In fact it might help her.

I was pretty depressed recently as a result of failed social interaction with someone important to me. It really hit my self esteem as well as my physical health(not directly though). As a result of stress my body immunity went down and I was sick for 3 weeks, pills were not helping. That was scary. Moreover I couldn't get my mind focused on anything and I was keep thinking what I did wrong and how messed up I am. I was doing nothing but sitting in my room and doing a mess, not cleaning up and not doing my vacation homeworks that got .

Then I decided - I give up on the stupid social life. I installed a game I stopped playing about a year ago because it was "taking too much of my time" and I shut myself in my room for a few days. At first I was doing nothing but playing and soon I realized stopped thinking about the social issues. Then I got out of the sadness. And I done my vacation homeworks and returned to school ready for new interactions and getting knowledge. Got focused again.

Currently I got my life back together. I still play a lot(a few hours a day) but I got my self esteem back. I know where to hide. I know how my next day will look like. It's calming. I created a schedule (shaped with school, in-game events and my parents work hours) and my life got normal again. I am even thinking about trying again what I messed up two months ago. I'm not afraid anymore.



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17 Sep 2014, 7:37 pm

Thanks all. You've just confirmed that I've been over thinking this waaaaay too much.

She's had a good couple of days and if she keeps to her commitments this week she might just be in for a nice surprise this weekend. :)



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18 Sep 2014, 3:32 am

There were researches and psychologists found that game logic of SIMS represents real society, human relations and situations very closely despite game seems to be simple in many aspects. So maybe it's not so bad at all.



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18 Sep 2014, 9:23 am

Statto wrote:
Thanks all. You've just confirmed that I've been over thinking this waaaaay too much.

She's had a good couple of days and if she keeps to her commitments this week she might just be in for a nice surprise this weekend. :)


:D This sounds really good.

I am glad you have benefited from the great people here--this really is a fantastic, thoughtful, compassionate place.

One thought: You might try, with her permission. playing in that world too--you might learn something by entering that world with her and sharing that perspective with her.



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18 Sep 2014, 11:16 am

Adamantium wrote:
Statto wrote:
Thanks all. You've just confirmed that I've been over thinking this waaaaay too much.

She's had a good couple of days and if she keeps to her commitments this week she might just be in for a nice surprise this weekend. :)


:D This sounds really good.

I am glad you have benefited from the great people here--this really is a fantastic, thoughtful, compassionate place.

One thought: You might try, with her permission. playing in that world too--you might learn something by entering that world with her and sharing that perspective with her.

:D

I may just do that but I will likely get hooked myself and need your collective help to escape!!

:wink:



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20 Sep 2014, 7:26 pm

The only issue so far is that I've not been allowed to play.

Well, that and the install took six hours finishing at 2am.



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20 Sep 2014, 7:32 pm

It's good to have a virtual world where you can be in control and have positive outcomes.


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24 Sep 2014, 1:02 am

The jury is out on this one.

Not so much the virtual world side of things, but it has quickly become too important. Even being asked to step away from the game for a few minutes becomes a major issue. We've had a discussion and reset, so hopefully next weekend is better - the kids are not allowed weekend gaming. I don't find that over attachment is good for my two, but as she was very overexcited about getting the game we are giving her the benefit of the doubt.



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24 Sep 2014, 4:30 pm

If you just tell her "Come here for a few minutes." I am not surprised it is an issue. I hate when people disturb me when I am doing anything, especially when it is something as pleasant as playing my favorite game!

Tell her "In 15 minutes, at 3:30pm I need you to come here for a few minutes. Got it?" instead and make sure she is aware she answered "Yes." (she might tell it unknowingly). There shouldn't be much anger if you do it this way because she will be able to finish whatever she is doing before coming to you. She won't have to deal with emotions related to the sudden, unpredicted break so it won't be that hurting to her.



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24 Sep 2014, 4:44 pm

I don't know if it is possible to schedule when she stops for a minute, in advance but depending on your reasons for interrupting her, you could try that.

I am a "finish what I am doing" type person myself and I like to end at natural stopping points in books and games, when possible. If I know in advance, I can plan better.

(It might be hard to find natural stopping points in the Sims, but I would guess some places would be especially bad, like if you are in the middle of trying to get someone to like your character or in the middle of a party.)



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24 Sep 2014, 6:58 pm

Sims can be paused at any moment. Tell her she can pause it or she can turn it off, her choice.