Research by experts in Milan suggests that young people were better at understanding and expressing their emotions after playing video games as part of an emotional intelligence training programme.
The study, published in the Games for Health Journal by co-authors Claudia Carissoli and Daniela Villani from the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, saw a test group of teenagers take part in eight sessions of gaming followed by an evaluation of their emotional competency.
To carry out the study, the researchers created a training programme called EmotivaMente which included a number of video games as experience-based learning tools, with the games chosen meant to produce different emotional responses from players.
In their findings, the researchers said the students “reported an improvement in the evaluation and expression of emotions in relation to the self” and “participants felt more able to recognise and manage their own emotions”.
Tom Baranowski, editor-in-chief of Games for Health Journal, which published the research, said it could be the starting point for the development of more video games designed to help with health issues.
“Games for health have been designed to address an increasing variety of issues. A relatively new health issue is emotional intelligence, which has implications for various health problems, including coping with stress,” he said.
“Their (the researchers) preliminary evaluation indicated that playing the game enhanced the students’ evaluation and expression of emotions. This is an important first step in designing a game to learn to manage emotions. While the impact was limited, further enhancements to the game may have substantial additional effects.”
In the UK, concerns have been raised by some experts that video games can be addictive and developers should take more responsibility to protect users – particularly younger people.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee is currently leading an inquiry into addictive technologies, including looking at video games and in particular their use of loot boxes – paid-for packs of in-game items which some fear could be used as a gateway to gambling for young people.