Researchers found that volunteers who played Bejeweled displayed improved mood and heart rhythms compared with volunteers who did not play according to a preliminary study commissioned and funded by PopCap. PopCap embarked on the study after a woman contacted them and said that playing games was a big help in getting her through the nights when she was struggling with depression.
Game companies are looking at ways in which they can expand their markets based on the concept that depression – and daily stress – follows regular thought processes. They believe that games can help people get out of these mental states and into a more positive mood. This effect of playing simple games to relieve stress isn’t new or limited to online, or on device games, as anyone who does crossword puzzles or Sudoku can readily recognize.
Carmen Russoniello, who directs the psychophysiology lab and biofeedback clinic at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., said he has found that certain games allow people to fall into a rhythm where they can play without either effort or boredom, and that some games seem to reduce the heightened tension that is a natural response to stress. He explains that when Type A people try to relax, they get bored because they have come to require a certain level of stressful arousal. Playing certain video games offers just enough mental challenge to keep them occupied while putting them into a state of relative mindlessness – which appears to have positive effects on stress, depression and other mental problems.
So the next time your husband/wife/child/friend complains you are spending too much time playing games, you may be able to say it’s just what the doctor ordered.
To read the full Washington Post article, click Rx: Xbox?