When I called my husband a little while ago complaining that the hotel I'm in charges for Internet access, he said, "Bah, treat yourself, go play some WoW." So I probably will later this evening.
I spent the last couple of hours finishing up my presentation and trying to arrange various social engagements. After a plane ride and some heavy duty slide wrangling, sometimes it's fun to go kills some monsters. When I was younger, like 27, I used to play Quake after work. There's nothing like sending a person virtually across the room through strategic rocket launcher use to relieve some stress. I think it's not so much about the virtual killing, which now that I'm older, makes me more squeamish than it used to, but that playing a game uses different parts of my brain than I use for the work I do. I write. I put ideas together. I construct presentations and workshops where I have to think about who I'm presenting to. In a game, there's a different strategy. I'm not thinking in words or images and how they go together. Instead, I plan routes. I think about using particular spells in a particular order so that a particular shot is timed to be especially lethal. I run like hell. In some ways, my more primitive survival mechanisms kick into gear.
And most of the time, while I'm doing that I'm chatting with people (which was true in Quake too). Until I get in front of an audience, much of my work is isolating and while I do get out and have lunch with people on occasion, I can't do that every day, so poking my head into a game and doing something with other people for a while is nice--and it's different from Twitter or blogging or Facebooking, which are also social. It's more like a collective experience rather than either a one-on-one conversation or broadcast. And that's more satisfying to me much of the time.
On the other hand, gaming can cause stress if you take it too seriously or otherwise get caught up in it. I've gotten stressed out over tanking a number of times, so if it's stress reduction I'm after, I don't tank. It's rare for me, though, that a game causes me stress. After all, it's a game. that we play for fun. right?