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PAX East 2023: Geek Therapeutics Works to Reshape Cultural Understanding of Video Games and to Support Gamers

While so much of PAX East was about games, developers, networking, and just having fun, the moment I found most moving was an impromptu conversation I had with Dr. Anthony M. Bean, author of The Psychology of The Legend of Zelda, The Psychology of Final Fantasy, and Working with Video Gamers and Games in Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide.

I was wandering through the shopping section of PAX East, and I came across a booth run by Geek Therapeutics. I stopped because the philosophy book on Zelda caught my eye; I had read the book several years back and seeing it brought a smile to my face. Then another book offering captured my attention—Integrating Geek Culture Into Therapeutic Practice: The Clinician’s Guide to Geek Therapy.

My wife is a trauma psychologist, and for the past fifteen years, I’ve had an up-close view of therapy, treatment, and clinical practice. I’m also a lifelong gamer and participant in therapy for the past twenty years. It’s rare that these disparate aspects of my world collide, and when they do, I pay attention.

When I purchased the book, the vendor offered to have the author sign the book. And immediately asked if I could interview him, and moments later I was sitting down with Dr. Anthony M. Bean. Not surprisingly, Dr. Bean is a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda and video games in general.

The video games he played during his formative years taught him many lessons about life, both how to engage with the external world and how to develop internally. “Games like The Legend of Zelda teach us to grow and understand ourselves. Just like the puzzles in the dungeons,” Dr. Bean explained. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What am I missing? What tools do I need in this moment?’ That way of thinking is a good approach to the problems we face in life.”

In college, Dr. Bean created a 250-member DDR club, which he said brought a lot of people together and created a deep sense of community. He knew going forward that he wanted to do something with video games and culture. He went on to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Criminology, while regularly researching video games from the age of 18 on.

Dr. Bean saw a clear need for increased access to mental health care within “geek culture,” and a need for the transformational and healing power of games within mainstream culture. He worked for several non-profits before eventually starting his own in Texas to help equip therapists to understand “geek culture” and to engage with it therapeutically.

Another frustration Dr. Bean encountered was the gate-keeping of major publishing houses. Recognizing that he and those of similar minds had something real to offer the world, he wanted to publish books to reshape cultural understanding of video games, to articulate the powerful art form the medium has become, and to assist community professionals, clinicians, and volunteers to engage in “geek culture”.

When the frustration with publishers became too much, Dr. Bean started his own publishing and printing company. Leyline Publishing has enjoyed explosive growth in just two years, giving a platform to critical voices within the gaming community and to those voices withing “geek culture” often marginalized by major publishing houses.

In closing the interview, I asked Dr. Bean if he could make sure people understood at least one thing about video games and “geek culture,” what would it be? His response: “Video games have a narrative experience that creates the heroic journey inside of us. Even when we put the game down and walk away, the game is always interacting with us, changing us even after we shut it off.”

Tell us what you think! Have you read any of Dr. Anthony M. Bean’s books? Share your reactions in the comments below or join the conversation on Boss Rush Network’s Discord and Facebook.

The Boss Rush Podcast – Mondays at 7AM ET

The Boss Rush Podcast

The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast Monday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and listen on podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening!

You can get episodes of this podcast one week early by supporting The Boss Rush Network on the Boss Rush Media Patreon.

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Follow The Boss Rush Podcast on Social Media:
Twitter | Discord | Instagram | Twitch | YouTube | Facebook Group | Facebook

Shows also available on The Boss Rush Podcast feeds:

  • One V One: The Creator Interview Series (Also available on its own feed)
  • Talk The Walk: The Walking Simulator and Cozy Game Conversation Show
  • Boss Rush Podcast Extra
  • Boss Rush Panels

Nintendo Pow Block Podcast – Wednesdays at 7AM ET

Nintendo Pow Block

Nintendo Pow Block is Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network’s Nintendo podcast. Each week, Edward, Corey, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk about the week in Nintendo, including news, rumors, new games, questions, and the fan-favorite Snacktendo segment. Check out Nintendo Pow Block Live on Twitch every Monday night at 8:30PM Eastern / 5:30PM Pacific or on Podcast Services and YouTube Wednesday mornings at 7AM. If you enjoy the show, consider leaving us a five-star rating on iTunes and Spotify. Thanks for listening to Nintendo Pow Block!

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Follow Nintendo Pow Block on Social Media: 

Twitter | Discord | Instagram | Twitch | YouTube | Facebook Group | Facebook

Shows also available on the Nintendo Pow Block Podcast feeds:

  • Nintendo Pow Block Expansion Pass
  • The Nintendo Direct Recap Show
  • Nintendo Spoiler Alert
  • Ranking Nintendo Episodes of Standard Definition: The Retro and Nostalgia Podcast

Cross Roads: The Video Game Podcast – Partner Podcast of The Boss Rush Network with Exodus803 – Thursdays at 7AM ET

Cross Roads: The Video Game Podcast

Cross Roads: The Video Game Podcast is the premiere partner video game news podcast from Exodus803. Each week, LeRon, Stoy, and Andre bring the latest in the world of PlayStation, Xbox, and PC gaming, including news, rumors, new games, and topics of conversation. If you want to hear more, watch or listen to Catch Cross Roads: The Video Game Podcast at 8PM ET on the Exodus803 YouTube live on Tuesday, or on YouTube and Podcast Services on Wednesdays. Thanks for listening to Cross Roads: The Video Game Podcast. Partner of The Boss Rush Network. Subscribe to the Exodus803 YouTube channel for podcasts, great content, streams, and more.

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One V One: The Creator Interview Series and Talk The Walk: The Walking Simulator and Cozy Game Conversation – Tuesdays at 7AM ET

One V. One: The Creator Interview Series

One V One is the creator interview series led by Celeste Roberts and Edward Varnell. This series is intended to spotlight lesser known creators who offer something interesting and unique in our community and hopefully help grow theirs as well. Also available on this feed is Talk the Walk: The Walking Sim and Cozy Game Discussion Series intended to explore the wonderful stories told in these great genres. If you enjoy our One V. One Interview Series and Talk The Walk, consider leaving it a five star rating and a nice review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can catch these series on YouTube, the One V One podcast feed, and The Boss Rush Podcast main feed Tuesdays when available. Thank you for listening!

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Shows that appear on this podcast feed:

  • One V One: The Creator Interview Series
  • Talk The Walk: The Walking Simulator and Cozy Game Conversation
  • Bonus Episodes

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