Can Games Alleviate Anxiety?

by on October 30th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Video GamesGames may be helpful for children suffering from anxiety and depression, according to research published last year.

In the study, Game-Based Biofeedback for Paediatric Anxiety and Depression, M. Knox and five other scientists reported that children responded favorably to video games utilizing biofeedback devices and techniques.

During eight sessions, M. Knox and colleagues tested twenty-four children and assigned half of them to a group using two video games and the other half to a comparison group.

To rate psychological symptoms before and after the sessions, the scientists gave three tests to children whose ages ranged from nine to seventeen years old. Two of the tests were for anxiety; the third, for depression.

“The intervention group [video game group] reduced anxiety and depression scores on [standardized] tests,” the scientists wrote in the published study results.

The biofeedback-based games that were used included Freeze-Framer 2.0 and Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage.

“These programs use one to three small skin electrodes that record moment by moment changes in heart rate variability (HRV) and skin conductance level (SCL),” the authors of the study wrote.

The objective was for the participants to relax and breathe at a slower rate to progress through the games, according to the authors.

A promotional video for one of the games —Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage— shows that, by controlling their heart rate, users can open a door in a colorful temple, juggle three balls, or fly on a virtual magic carpet.

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