How a Modder Plays Games to Improve His Sanity



Modder Girlstandstill makes mods for BioWare games and it also helps her sanity.

Many articles this week have shown that video games can help us with our psychological issues and should come as no surprise to most gamers. However, working with and on games can also improve your mental health, even if you are not part of a large or small development studio.

Content Disclaimer: Mental Health Week articles cover various aspects of mental health and sometimes include examples of negative emotions and unhealthy behaviors that can trigger negative reactions in some people. Be careful with texts that contain potentially triggering topics for you.

Important note: If you are suffering from depression or self-destructive thoughts yourself, you are not alone. Please get help. For example, at the Deutsche Depressionshilfe on 0800/33 44 533 or at free advice centers.

Author and artist Jessie aka explains how it works @Girlstandstill, an avid modder. We stumbled upon Jessie’s Twitter account shortly before the Legendary Edition of Mass Effect was released in May 2021, as she’s not only a die-hard BioWare fan, but has also made a name for herself in the community thanks to modding – and thanks to its openness. on the subject of mental health.

Jessie tweets very openly about how creating mods like improved NPC faces help her sanity, and how BioWare games in particular give her sanctuary when life gets tough.

Learn more about the modder:

Jessie aka Girlstandstill is a writer and artist in her late thirties who grew up playing video games like Mortal Kombat and The Sims. At the age of 14, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was joined by a late diagnosis of autism last year.

Her mental and physical health has put many obstacles in her way, especially in recent years, and she has not only found refuge in video games, but also an outlet to be not only creative but also productive.

Video games as a refuge

After working two full-time jobs for several years and completing an apprenticeship at the same time, Jessie suffered a burnout in 2017, as she told GamePro in an interview. Due to her physical condition (and later also due to the corona pandemic), she could not leave the house and fell into a severe depression. Being sick and unable to work made her feel like her life had no value and was just a burden to others, Jessie recalls. She also felt isolated.

But video games should help him. She loved getting lost in RPGs like the Mass Effect trilogy, Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars The Old Republic, or Dragon Age games. Being able to save the galaxy as a hero when she was already struggling to get through the day in real life was a comfort to Jessie. Taking refuge in games made him forget his dark thoughts for a moment. But she still struggled to feel useless, like she wasn’t accomplishing anything in life.

Jessie aka Girlstandstill shares her BioWare RPG adventures on Twitter.  Image source: TwitterGirlstandstill

Jessie aka Girlstandstill shares her BioWare RPG adventures on Twitter. Image Credit: Twitter/Girlstandstill

Mods were the solution:

Modding has opened up so many new possibilities for me that I never thought possible before. Getting into the game and creating mods has given me sanctuary and an opportunity to be productive and contribute in my own way.

When mods give meaning to life

Originally, Jessie didn’t want to do the modding herself. She thought making mods would be too difficult because she didn’t have any specific computer skills. However, the idea of ​​a Dragon Age mod in which Riordan would perform the Dark Ritual with Morrigan changed that. She posted the idea on a Dragon Age Facebook group hoping someone would build the mod or show her how to make it herself.

After a few days, she received a response from a modder who gave her the resources and tools to start modding herself. Jessie began building “Face Morphs”, i.e. mods that change the appearance of NPCs or expand character creation options.

Jessie uses created face morphs to change characters' faces.  Image source: TwitterGirlstandstill

Jessie uses created face morphs to change characters’ faces. Image Credit: Twitter/Girlstandstill

She posted the face morphs on popular mod site Nexusmods and received lots of positive feedback. Many fans wrote to her that thanks to Jessie’s mods they were finally able to build the hero of their dreams:

When I started this [Mods zu posten] and seeing how people reacted made me feel like I had a purpose. That there was still something I could contribute and get into that would benefit others. When I realized mods gave me purpose in life, I also found that I felt less suicidal and more excited about interacting with people who use my mods. […] Today I have a community of friends who understand me and I no longer feel isolated and alone.

There are ups and downs

Although modding helps Jessie with her sanity, it’s not a magic bullet. Sometimes she just lacks motivation when she’s too depressed, but alternating periods of productivity and inactivity are part of that for her. When she can’t work on mods, she instead tries to use other self-care methods that can help her.

Even modding itself does not always bring only positive experiences. Sometimes people leave comments on Jessie mods complaining that they don’t like something about them. Although Jessie knows that her designs can never please everyone and that constructive criticism is important to her, unexpected negativity can still hamper her motivation. It is all the more important for her not to forget why she mods:

“I try to remember that just because someone doesn’t like something I create doesn’t mean it should affect me negatively. I do [die Mods] for me and that’s the most important thing.”

Although she shares her mods with the world, she does so primarily for herself.

Although she shares her mods with the world, she does so primarily for herself.

no one is alone

Jessie is now working on many different types of mods. In addition to face morphs and god items (i.e. gear with really good values), she is currently learning how to create cutscenes, textures and companion mods and how to use Blender. Their goal is to make their favorite games more diverse and immersive through mods.

You can find more articles from our Mental Health Week here:

What awaits you + all articles in the overview


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Mental Health Week

What awaits you & all articles in the overview

In everyday life, Jessie faces many obstacles due to her mental illnesses. But for her, it also means she has other life experiences that have given her a unique perspective and shown her the importance of compassion, empathy, patience and kindness. In the modding community, she’s met people struggling with the same issues and learned that she’s not alone and doesn’t have to be ashamed of being different. For anyone interested in modding themselves, she has some simple advice:

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to modders if you have any questions. Many of us like to promote new people to the modding community. We all know how hard it was to get started, so we’re always happy to pass on our knowledge to future generations of modders. Don’t let anyone discourage you from turning your ideas into mods. We’re all fans of games. Learning to mod simply gives you the ability to customize your favorite fictional game worlds.

An important request: As our Mental Health Week articles deal with sensitive subjects which have sometimes asked a lot of us to write, we ask you at this stage to be particularly caring and understanding in your comments. Thank you and good reading!

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