Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
MarcelaRoberts

Video Games helping with Mental Illnesses...

This topic is 3708 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

So, I just wrote a blog about video games helping with mental disorders. I thought this would be a prime place to get feedback/ideas/questions from people. Here's the blog website: http://twistedreality8.blogspot.com/ Please, please comment. I'm really interested in the possibility of video games becoming a viable alternative solution for mental illnesses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
I'm not necessarily sure exactly how well this would work. I know virtual reality simulations are already being used in therapy, for example, a VR simulation of a pet tarantula, to ease arachnophobia.

Having simple sandbox games that are as easy to play as, say, Solitaire, might be therapeutic, but beyond that, I'm interested in how the Tetris effect could be used to such ends.

As most of you may know, the Tetris effect is what you get when you play Tetris for a long time. Eventually, you'll see the world in terms of tetriminos fitting together, and your thought process will be similar to as it is when you're playing the game. This effect applies to most any game. I've gotten it with Chess, Metroid Prime Hunters, Kirby's Canvas Curse, and Advance Wars, to name a few.

The Tetris effect might possibly be manipulated, if the game is designed properly, to promote a very relaxing and optimistic thought process.

However, the Tetris effect isn't without it's drawbacks. For one, it typically requires several hours to be devoted to the game, and with that the game usually has to be addictive and consuming. This would be highly unideal for, say, the mother at home having to deal with four kids. Secondly, the Tetris effect tends to disrupt normal sleep patterns. Third, so far the Tetris effect, so far as I've known it, is exclusively distracting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First, thanks for your feedback! Now, in response, I never actually knew of the term "Tetris effect", but I completely understand and acknowledge its existence. As for the "drawbacks", if you want to integrate and immerse someone in a game, playing several hours at once is the quickest, yet not the most effective way. I think if the game was played frequently versus for long periods of time, the "tetris effect" could still work for the better. With all drugs, it's easy to become addicted to something that makes you feel better, but that's an issue that would arise with any solution. What works to our advantage is that you can be on drugs while in real life (making it easier to abuse them), but you can't be in virtual reality and in real life at the same time. Does that make sense?

I'm not sure if I fully understand the third drawback. Can you further explain it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Heh, appropriately, I think I was distracted at the time I wrote that. Nevermind it.

Anyhows, on another topic, I believe I have come across games that might be therapeutic the way you'd like. The best example I'd like to give is the art game Gravitation.

For one, the game is designed with a time limit. After eight minutes, the game ends. Good for someone on a budget for the commodity; it doesn't simply draw in the player and try to keep her there as long as possible. Second, the game was specifically designed to create an emotional response. The game was designed for artistic interpretation, not addictive gameplay. The game is simple, enjoyable, and moving.

On reflection, I hope that stress therapy may be a perfect reason for more games like Gravitation to be made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Video Games have been used to assist in treating AD(H)D for some time. The game, rather than being controlled in a normal manner, uses a rudimentary neural interface. Basically it measures electrical activity in the brain, and is controlled by the amount of concentration the player is exerting. The higher the concentration, the faster the avatar would move. The challenge is to constantly improve the time/score over a series of sessions.

More recently technological advances have allowed brain activity to be measured more accurately. Newer forms of this kind of therapy allow players to control even the direction the avatar will travel. The input is calibrated by asking players to concentrate on that direction, and monitoring activity. This is done for all directions, then tested in an actual virtual environment.

The key to this kind of therapy is it encourages the 'player' to concentrate on a specific goal or action entirely. It can assist some individuals in concentrating on work in their life, or personal interactions. As therapy continues the level of competency within the environment is expected to increase, and the duration will also be lengthened to push the 'player's boundaries and further improve concentration. As with all therapies it isn't always successful, but it does show promise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Video games have been used in other medical fields. Although this probably was not their intention, I cited a source in a paper once that did a study on playing video games with brain signals. They developed a system that allowed a player to play a game (it was from the 1980s I believe but that's besides the point) using waves sent to the brain via tongue movement. After that worked they did the same thing but with him thinking about the tongue movement but not actually moving his tongue. He was able to beat a few levels on normal difficulty.

This doesn't have much to do with mental illnesses, but it shows how video games are becoming useful in other fields--in this case the physically disabled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Portugal Stew

As most of you may know, the Tetris effect is what you get when you play Tetris for a long time. Eventually, you'll see the world in terms of tetriminos fitting together, and your thought process will be similar to as it is when you're playing the game.


Never happenend to me, but when I was a heavy tetris player, I dreamed with falling blocks and making perfect "lines".
What a waste of life :) (btw, tetris classic rules!!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yea, I've seen that video games are starting to reach out of the entertainment industry and trying to help in other areas, but I have yet to specifically hear about/see a game that exists as an alternative to anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, etc. It seems that developers cannot make a game alone that will achieve a solution because they don't have enough knowledge about the workings of the human psyche. The medical industry can try to create simulations, but they don't bring the patient in enough for it to be a convenient, fun, and effective treatment. It's the welding of the two industries that's needed to bring about a successful product that conquers mental illness.

With that being said, I recently heard about the "Games for Health" conference that's going to occur early next month (http://www.gamesforhealth.org/index3.html). Does anyone have more information on that conference and whether anyone speaks about mental illnesses?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As a person who frequently experiences obsessive thought patterns, I can say unequivocally that the "Tetris effect" is to be avoided. Repetitive thoughts generally have an anxiety-producing effect, often resulting in repetitive behaviors meant to assuage that anxiety.

To be honest, Marcela, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Your casual use of the term "virtual reality" makes me think you may not know either. To be frank, your arguments are somewhat disorganized and narcissistic. I would suggest being very precise with your words considering you're dealing with very complex topics.

I'm sorry you've had issues with medication (so have I), but gaming is not a panacea that can cure my halitosis. Gaming may be effective for some to the extent that more traditional forms of therapy are. Don't many of us already play games to help us relax? Don't many of us become preoccupied with our games and require further therapy for that?

I'm not trying to flame, just trying to help you define your goals more clearly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by MarcelaRoberts
It seems that developers cannot make a game alone that will achieve a solution because they don't have enough knowledge about the workings of the human psyche.


You posted this while I was typing my previous reply, but this is absolutely true.

In fact, even doctors don't have a clear idea of how therapeutic medications affect the brain. They can only make conclusions based on observation (ie, how do you feel when you take them compared to when you don't). To make things more confusing, each medication affects each individual differently.

The fact that psychiatrists can't objectively measure the effect of these medications on the brain makes it very difficult or impossible for game designers to replicate their effects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!