Thursday, 23 April 2015

'The Role of Video Games and Virtual Reality in Psychiatric Treatment' & 'The Benefits of Playing Video Games' articles

'The Role of Video Games and Virtual Reality in Psychiatric Treatment': David Baron, Marientina Gotsis, Psychiatry Advisor, 8 April 2015


"Individuals and families of all ages are consumers of interactive entertainment in many forms. Games have matured as an artistic medium and they now explore emotional experiences that represent a wide spectrum of human emotions.

The game Journey, which has been dubbed by critics as a cinematic experience, is being used in clinical studies for depression at the Behavioral Sciences Institute (BSI) in Radboud University Nijmegen in Holland. The BSI is also behind of Mindlight, a sweet-scary biofeedback-driven game for children with anxiety. Its aesthetic merit beyond clinical applications has landed it at the Games for Change festival in New York City this month...."


"Unfortunately, as the public lives increasingly in a networked and digital world, psychiatry remains deeply skeptical and removed from technological advances for going beyond patient engagement to interactive diagnostics and treatment. Interactive entertainment elicits emotions, can help regulate affect, and can provide “virtuous” pleasure of an epicurean era in which happiness (ataraxia) is the absence of unnecessary mental and physical suffering. But why isn't all this technology being used widely by psychiatry? ..."

"One of the most promising opportunities is to replace neurocognitive instruments with cross-validated entertainment-based experiences. This would be especially useful in developmental disorders.

Understanding how the design of interactivity affects brain function, and how that maps to executive function development trajectories, is especially critical for use of these experiences by children. ..."

Read complete article


'The Benefits of Playing Video Games': Isabela Granic, Adam Lobel, and Rutger CME Engels; Radboud University Nijmegen; January 2014; American Psychologist


"Video games are a ubiquitous part of almost all children’s and adolescents’ lives, with 97% playing for at least one hour per day in the United States. The vast majority of research by psychologists on the effects of “gaming” has been on its negative impact: the potential harm related to violence, addiction, and depression. We recognize the value of that research; however, we argue that a more balanced perspective is needed, one that considers not only the possible negative effects but also the benefits of playing these games. Considering these potential benefits is important, in part, because the nature of these games has changed dramatically in the last decade, becoming increasingly complex, diverse, realistic, and social in nature.

A small but significant body of research has begun to emerge, mostly in the last five years, documenting these benefits. In this article, we  summarize the research on the positive effects of playing video games, focusing on four main domains: cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social. 

By integrating insights from developmental, positive, and social psychology, as well as media psychology, we propose some candidate mechanisms by which playing video games may foster real-world psychosocial benefits.  Our aim is to provide strong enough evidence and a theoretical rationale to inspire new programs of research on the largely unexplored mental health benefits of gaming.  Finally, we end with a call to intervention researchers and practitioners to test the positive uses of video games, and we suggest several promising directions for doing so." 

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