Game Over, Old Prejudices! Study Says Video Games Can Help People Out of Depression

Khryss | Published 2017-03-29 18:59
Nowadays, video games have become more than just having a player complete an objective. People are now accepting the thought that these games can be inspirational, existential, and even life-changing. Games like Flower and Journey can be a vessel of art or even be filled with life lessons as with the Walking Dead and the Last of Us. Game over, old prejudices! Recently, a new paper in the Journal Computers in Human Behavior is breaking the ceiling once more- it suggests that video games could provide people changed perception to help them out of their depression. The study utilized 160 students with mild depression from a large public university in the U.S., and randomly assigned six specifically designed "brain training" video games (the Simon task, emotional go/no go, emotional face Stroop task, and flanker task). Each of those is “an adaptation on neurophysiological tasks that have been shown to improve cognitive control among people experiencing depression,” the authors said. Using message prompts throughout the course of the game, they subtly “implanted” messages to the player that denoted ways their depression could be observed – either as an internal biological phenomenon, like an impulse, or something external and social, such as a bad life experience. The authors believe that these can help make people feel like they could do something with their depression since there were games portraying the problem as internal. As what they’ve said in their study, “Taken together, these findings support the notion that portraying depression as located internally because of biological causes and providing a video game based app for brain training, made participants feel that they could do something to control their likelihood of becoming depressed, and consequently they reported the app to be more usable and also intended to use the app more frequently.” This type of research is still quite new and the study only serves as a basis. The research was quite limited in its scope but it’s undeniably an amazing idea. While a recent study says playing video games can lead to sexism (pssh, how true is that?), this study shows how these seemingly condemned entertainment can also serve as tools of improvement. Nonetheless, these games aren’t going anywhere- they’re here to stay! Better make the most out of it.
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