Casual gaming reduces stress, sez science

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peggle_screenshot.pngNext time you get caught out playing Peggle at work, you can legitimately tell your boss that you’re reducing the high level of stress, fatigue, and anger caused by him being such as slave driver.

New research from East Carolina University suggests that casual games (particularly those by PopCap games, because they commissioned the study) can be therapeutic, lowering stress levels, increasing vigour, and reducing fatigue, confusion, anger, and psychological tension.

Slightly different results were found between the three games tested — Bejeweled 2, Peggle, and Bookworm Adventures — and between male and female, but overall, the signs were the same.

Dr Caremen Russoniello, associate professor and director of the Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Center at ECU, said, “I’ve conducted many clinical studies in the area of recreational therapy in the past, but this was the first one seeking to determine the potential therapeutic value of video games. The results of this study are impressive and intriguing, given the extent of the effects of the games on subjects’ stress levels and overall mood. When coupled with the very high degree of confidence we have in those results based on the methodology and technologies used, I believe there is a wide range of therapeutic applications of casual games in mood-related disorders such as depression and in stress-related disorders including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Granted, this study was a first step and much more needs to be done before video games can be prescribed to treat medical conditions. However, these exciting results confirm anecdotal evidence that people are playing casual video games to improve their mood and decrease their stress, and herald casual games’ potential in health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of stress- and mood-related disorders.”

So c’mon – break out that copy of Bejeweled 2, because it’s good for you. Fact.

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Andy Merrett