If you run into a thunderstorm in a game, you might begin to think about how you should adjust your play-style. Maybe you should find shelter, or avoid using metal weapons. On a surface level, this is all we think about when we run into adverse weather in a game. But one of the things we don’t often consider is the effect in-game weather has on mood. In this episode of Psych of Play, we’ll talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder, and a recent study that suggests bad weather can actually play a key role in regulating emotion and mental health. In-game weather may be more powerful to us than we previously realized.

Please feel free to share with your friends or anyone you think would enjoy!

Games Shown:

Celeste (2018) – Matt Makes Games
God of War (2018) – SCE Santa Monica Studio
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) – Nintendo
Metal Gear Solid (1998) – Konami
Fallout 4 (2015) – Bethesda
Minecraft (2009) – Mojang
Octopath Traveler (2018) – Square Enix
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) – Rockstar Games
Pokemon White 2 (2012) – Game Freak
Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) – Guerilla Games
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) – CD Projekt RED
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018) – Ubisoft
Super Mario Odyssey (2017) – Nintendo
Pokemon Crystal (2000) – Game Freak
Zelda: Wind Waker (2002) – Nintendo
Zelda: Ocarina of time (1996) NIntendo
Journey (2012) – That Game Company
Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006) – Nintendo
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012) – Monolith Soft
Undertale (2015) – Toby Fox
Mad Max (2015) – Avalanche Studios
Motorstorm Apocalypse (2011) – Evolution Studios
Rain World (2017) – Videocult
Frostpunk (2018) – 11 Bit Studios


My Hero Academia (2016) – Viz Media, Shueisha
The Garden of Words (2013) – Makoto Shinkai
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) – Disney
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) – Disney
50 First Dates (2004) – Happy Madison Productions
Eight Below (2006) – The Walt Disney Company
Good Will Hunting (1997) – Miramax

Music Sources:

Octopath Traveler OST – The Frostlands
Octopath Traveler OST – My Quiet Forest Home
SteamWorld Dig 2 OST – Precipice
The Legend of Legacy OST – A Great Calling
Hollow Knight OST – Reflection
Celeste OST – Madeline and Theo

Research Sources:

Affecting mood (SAD):

2) Nostalgia can help regulate mood

3) Reverse SAD

4) Heat vs Cold and Decision making

5) Nostalgia Study

_Welcome to Daryl Talks Games_

Hi! I’m Daryl, and on this channel I explore the intersection between video games, psychology, and real life.

I’ve talked about how Pokemon and the Generation Effect can make you a better student. I’ve made a video on why game developers really should understand functional fixedness. And I’ve interviewed some of the best speedrunners on Earth to find out how exactly they make setting world records look so easy.

Primacy and Recency, subconscious associations, classical conditioning, divergent thinking, amnesia (the disorder not the game), if its psychological concept that relates to games, I’ve probably talked about it before or will in the future. But to be clear, psychology isn’t all I talk about. Every now and then I’ll dabble in a little bit of game design and sometimes I’ll just talk about life and how games really can make it better… and for some people are the best way to relate to the world around us.

So if all that sounds like a good time to you, subscribe to my channel, watch my videos, and if you feel so inclined, show a friend! If you take a look at my videos, I truly hope that you learn something or are entertained and that your day is better after watching!

**All images, graphics, and fonts created or found with postermywall.com, Pexels.com, Videvo.net, and Lightworks v14 editing software.**


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27 thoughts on “How In-Game Weather Can Regulate Mental Health | Psych of Play

  1. This is a nice video, and weather in games is definitely important, but I just want to point out that people with SAD aren't just responding to psychological associations. Their (our) brains need the bright sunlight itself, and a lack of bright sunlight causes depression, even if it's warm and pleasant enough outside to go out and be social or play or whatever. In winter, even sunny days are too short to provide enough sunlight, and it's often cloudy and dark. People who live closer to the equator have longer days with more sunlight in the winter, not just more pleasant weather, and that is why SAD is less common closer to the equator. In short, it's about *light*, not weather. This is why seasonal depression is usually treated with bright light therapy. No matter if it's snowing and dark outside, with enough bright sun-level light (far, FAR brighter than normal indoor lights, requiring special ultra-bright bulbs), the depressive symptoms can be managed.

  2. 6:48 I find this fascinating since most nostalgia for me is rooted in unsavory childhood memories. It leads to a sentimentality for familiar, bad things.

  3. i dont know if i have S.A.D. but i do have diagnosed depression, and my feelings can worsen or change a bit depending on season. its sometimes subtle depending on my mental state and environment but the season does appear to affect my already pre existing depression.

    oddly, im from massachusetts, up north. but i feel more depressed in winter and summer, and happier in spring and fall. its like im half and half? i enjoy the calming whether of fall and how pretty it is, not too hot or cold. and springs often rainy whether in my area and the beauty of things blooming.

    but summer is so scorching hot, and being social, or having to wear less baggy and covering clothes (im a trans guy and i constantly wear baggy dark sweaters and such so its hot for me in summer as i do this all year even though i probably shouldnt).

    its just not that fun, though i enjoy camping and swimming a lot and going out in that whether its just the other more common negative things im familiar with that tend to make me more depressed and dread this whether, and the factor that i only get happy if im doing my favored activities around this time- but even then its temproary and or uncomfortable, as for in winter is my truely more depressive season in most cases. i doubt i have S.A.D. but I can see that it may affect my prexisting depression and just simply affect my emotions in some ways.

  4. Fun fact:

    SAD is still an unproven scientific theory. People have taken to it due to confirmation bias, the power of suggestion, and even placebo effects.
    There is no proof or verification of SAD being anything more than a topic of discussion to hold when you want to sound intellectual and interesting, or explain away your flawed personality and devastating mood swings.

  5. This is awesome. I regularly boot up games where I enjoy the scenery and climate just for the sake of it. Only few games manage that. Horizon Zero Dawn, Final Fantasy XV are games where I sometimes really feel as if I'm there and especially rain in those games feels extremely comfortable.

  6. I’ve got reverse S.A.D. But I’m in a northern state so I’m a lil odd. But this is a really interesting idea. I feel dumb for not making this connection. I listen to stormy weather sounds when I’m anxious to fall asleep, so playing video games with that weather could definitely help a little bit. It’s worth a try this summer 🙂 this is brilliant thank you.

  7. From watching this video I instantly understood a strong connection to weather and my mood. I'm from the US south and do have a milder case of reverse S.A.D. Right now living in Texas, and my favorites times? Storms, overcast, foggy mornings.
    No wonder Skyrim is my favorite game purely because of the atmosphere of traveling the landscape; Weather, Music, feet into snow. It brings about a sense of wonder for me.

  8. This video totally resonates with me. I have RSAD (mostly caused by my photophobia – direct sunlight makes me extremely irritable and depressed and gives me bad headaches). I also hate the heat. Like, a lot. I can't tell you the number of times I've booted up Skyrim or Breath of the Wild and found nice cloudy weather, or gone to Route 7 in Pokemon Black and White to try and find a thunderstorm, or, in the recent months, time traveled in Animal Crossing to have a rainy day on my island. The clouds and rain relax me and make me feel more focused, happy, optimistic, and creative. While nothing compares to the real deal, finding the weather that calms me in a video game definitely helps on those days where I've got the curtains drawn tight!

    Edit: I'm from Washington state by the way! So I definitely break the pattern, lol

  9. I feel I might have that thing too, or maybe not, but Associations.. yeah..That, that makes me sad, regret, and ruminate. Been months I played any game, I will go do it now

  10. Like others have said – SAD is related to the amount of light (and its strength) you receive every day and not to the weather. That's why people with minor or major SAD feel a lot better during a bright snowy day.

  11. I live near the equator and rain is my best friend. I'm not shy, but I like to stay home, so rainy days, when school is cancelled and no plans can be made, are some of the most peaceful days I can get. The sound of the rain is pleasant, and it allows me to concentrate in whatever I wanted to do instead of going out. When rain caught me on the street I would stay out as long as I could because I loved getting caught in the rain. That's the association I got with rain, to me sunny days equal days with lots of sweating and terribly hot school days. May is my favorite month of the year, because that's when a lot of my favorite tropical flowers and fruits are in full blossom.

    My association with May is colorful flowers and vacations. My associations with June are stressful school days. Rain has an opposite effect on me than most western media makes it seem like it should.

    So, even after school, rain is still a friend to me. Rain makes me feel… at peace.

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