Next Generation Therapy: How Online Games Help Treat Mental Illness


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Despite the fact that video games have long been part of global culture, they are still surrounded by many stereotypes – in particular, that games cause violence or at least distract from more important things. The truth is that video games are the subject of active research by scientists around the world, and the results are quite clear: games contribute to versatile development and have a positive effect on the psyche.

According to an international study, more than 10% of the population suffers from mental disorders. The most common of these are anxiety and depression. In reality, the numbers can be much larger. Not everyone seeks help, and many simply do not understand what is happening to them: the subject of mental health is still largely taboo.

At the same time, the problem of mental disorders itself has become strongly actualized in the context of the pandemic. Seeking solace in quarantine conditions, a large number of people have turned to online games like free online solitaire no download and video games. Scientists approve of this choice, believing that games really have a positive effect on players in several aspects at once.

  • First, almost all parts of the brain work during the game to quickly develop a strategy and analyze the situation. Games therefore stimulate critical thinking. In addition, players have improved their visual and spatial perception. There is also a theory that gamers have well-developed brain areas that are responsible for attention.
  • Second, games are closely related to motivation and goal achievement. You complete quests and tasks, getting bonuses and prize points for this – this is very likely to please you. At the same time, a complex system of incentives is involved. You may be motivated by a personal desire to do something specific or by the possibility of receiving a reward for completing the task.
  • Third, online multiplayer games improve socialization, encourage collaboration, and reduce feelings of loneliness.

In addition, online games help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to adapt to the real environment. So far, it is difficult to prove that the skills acquired in the game manifest themselves in real life due to the lack of suitable analysis tools. But we can say with certainty that it is easier for children to communicate in the virtual world. After all, the gambling world is safer.

There are also a number of specialized “healing games”. They were created on the basis of traditional therapeutic methods. For example, role-playing for the treatment of depression. The study, which was conducted by scientists, involved 187 teenagers with moderate depression. The children were divided into two groups: one played an online game and the other received conventional therapy with a psychologist. As a result of the first part of the experiment, improvements were recorded in 44% of the subjects of the first group and 26% of the second.

Another similar study was conducted using another game. It was created for people with increased anxiety. In it, the player explores a spooky mansion, while simultaneously investigating ways to control anxiety and fear. Six weekly sessions were as effective as eight cognitive behavioral therapy sessions.

There is also evidence that conventional commercial games can provide relief from illnesses as well. The researchers came to a more general conclusion: the games (very different — from to the horrors) help people suffering from anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ), as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD).

Additionally, researchers report that so-called casual video games, which are often played to take time off on the way to work or school (like Angry Birds), can reduce depressive symptoms and stress. That is, even short gaming sessions of 30 minutes are enough for a positive effect.

The gaming industry is relatively young and obviously is not intended to replace medicine. However, we can already conclude that video games should be considered as a potential alternative to traditional therapeutic methods.

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