How Does Video Gaming Impact Emotions

We are used to hearing that video games have a bad effect on emotional life. All these shooters, warriors, and assassins with abundant bloodletting are very frightening, especially to parents.

However, there are other games – useful, and they even have a certain healing effect. They are sometimes used in their practice by psychotherapists. Some experts even work with developers, offering their own game scenarios to achieve the desired psychological effect.

Types of Games

Today, there are two types of games:

  • Serious (EGP – electronic games for psychotherapy)
  • Entertainment or commercial (EGE – electronic games for entertainment)

The first group is designed specifically for therapeutic purposes, the latter – for leisure, but they can also be used as an additional tool of psychotherapy.

Now, video games help people not only dispel boredom and have fun but also balance their mental state, relieve anxiety, alleviate the disease, and recover from serious illnesses.

Games as Therapy

An interesting study was conducted by Pakistani scientists trying to help children with brain tumors. They developed a 3D shooter called Graphical Imagery Therapy. Its action unfolds in the human body, where lives a stranger – an alien who represents a malignant tumor. Children can easily deal with him with a pistol.

After the sessions, the doctors told the kids that in a similar way, the immune system fights foreign cells in their body, and they should soon get better. After such a playful discharge, children felt much more confident, and anxiety and manifestations of destructive behavior decreased. Of course, it was impossible to cure the disease without surgery, but scientists succeeded in alleviating the psycho-emotional state of young patients.

Spanish scientists have developed a game PlayMancer, designed to help fight bulimia nervosa. It is an eating disorder in which a person experiences bouts of overeating and then tries to get rid of the food (such as vomiting) for fear of getting fat because their self-esteem depends on their figure and weight. The game PlayMancer takes place on the island. Doctors set a goal for the patient's avatar (for example, to reach a certain object), but it can be achieved only by strictly controlling one's emotions.

The patient's physiological parameters were read using biosensors attached to the body. They measured electrical activity and skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation, heart rate, and respiratory rate. A camera also monitored the patient’s emotions.

When the system showed negative emotions or high levels of arousal, the avatar went to the relaxation area, and only after calming down, the patient could continue the game. The stronger the unwanted emotions were, the more difficult it was for the players to complete the mission. While playing, people learned to control their emotions, and on the monitor screen, they saw how well they could do it.

Combined with PlayMancer, cognitive-behavioral therapy has helped patients worry less and effectively monitor their emotional state. Scientists believe that the game can help people with addiction.

Unlike entertainment, the goal of serious games is not to go through all the levels and win but to achieve better self-control, good understanding, and control of emotions.

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