5 video games designed to treat mental illness

5 video games designed to treat mental illness

In these times, when children spend more time glued to television and consoles that playing outdoors, we have begun to demonize the video game as the sole responsible for sedentary lives of the little ones in the house.

However, while it is true that they can become very addictive and affect the lifestyle of children, it is also true that they provide a large number of Benefits, both for children and adults.

We have already spoken on several occasions about these advantages of video games, ranging from best visual and hearing skills up to an increase in organization and cooperation capacityn, going through benefits in other skills like memory or decision making. However, things do not stop there, which is why today many researchers are entering the world of videogames when looking for better treatments for all kinds of mental diseases, like depression or autism.

Gamification: the future of education. and also of psychology

The gamification is defined as the employment of game mechanics in non-recreational environments in order to improve motivation, concentration, effort and other abilities normally enhanced during play.

It does not necessarily refer to the use of video games and is generally more used in the field of education, although the good results in this area are leading to the fact that in recent years it has attracted the attention of other sectors; communication, psychology and health.

I personally learned the multiplication tables with a computer game that my father made me a few years ago and I can assure you that the things you learn by playing are internalized better and faster than by traditional methods.

And similarly, if you look for games that train impaired skills in certain mental disorders, you can get great benefits, which accompanied by other more traditional therapies they are already beginning to give great results.

Video games to treat or prevent mental illness

Although there are many, in this article we are going to talk about five of video games that have been developed in recent years for the treatment or prevention of this type of disease

1.Minecraft and the learning of autistic children

If you are minimally up to date in the world of video games you will know that the Minecraft is a construction game of type open world In which you can create that life that you would love to have in reality and that is impossible for you due to the logistics, the economy or the current legislation.

During a game the player can cultivate and breed everything you need for your feeding or pick up materials to make a house, furniture or anything you can think of. Also, at night you can meet creatures like giant spiders or zombies, so it is also necessary to have weapons in case you need to fight them.

All this may seem merely playful, but the truth is that it helps develop skills like Organizational ability, the achievement of objectives or the creation of collaborative projects.

Aware of this, their own creators of the game have developed a server, called Autcraft, aimed at autistic children, that they can improve their social skills and their ability to unfold day by dayextrapolating what they have learned in this fictional world to their real life. The server is controlled by a series of volunteers, that ensure that there are no bad words or any other content that could be harmful to the learning of these children.

2. Virtual reality to treat depression

According to psychologists, one of the main problems of people with depression is that they tend to be very hard on themselves, being unable to feel self-pity.

Often you try to start the therapies by teaching them to feel sorry for themselves, but first you need to train the compassion for others, so that later they identify with the people for whom they have felt that emotion.

Therefore, a group of scientists from the University College London and the ICREA University of Barcelona developed earlier this year a virtual reality video game addressed to people with depression, that during the game they have to comfort a little boy that feels sad.

The program was designed so that the little one calmed down little by little with the calming words of the player, so that once he was well he change roles and it was the child who calmed the subject.

In the study carried out, the game was tested with a control group and two others, formed by depressive and autocratic people, and the results were very positive, since both groups showed a noticeable improvement.

3. A computer program to prevent Alzheimer’s

Although unfortunately so far no way has been discovered cure Alzheimer’sIt is true that some means are known for prevent its occurrence, training our brain so that it doesn’t atrophy prematurely.

And precisely thinking about it a group of researchers from the Almera University has developed this year a computer program which tries to prevent the disease through games in which skills such as memory, attention or orientation.

The game works on touch screens so that it can be easily used by people who are not accustomed to using a computer, since according to its creators the main objective is for healthy men and women to use it from 60 years of age, even if they have not had any symptoms or family history that makes them prone to Alzheimer’s.

4.Videogames to treat bulimia nervosa


As you know, the bulimia nervosa is one of the known as Eating disorder, which leads to those who suffer it pay anxiety through Binge of food that then lead them to feel guilty, generating more anxiety and giving rise to a vicious circle whose consequences can be terrible.

Normally, these types of disorders are treated through those known as cognitive behavioral therapies, who pursue a deeper control, which not only focuses on the eating disorder, but also on the underlying cognitive behaviors They can aggravate the usual symptoms.

This is also the objective of videogame developed by researchers from the Bellvitge University Hospital, who published an article at the end of last year in which they show the results of this game of virtual reality that introduces patients into a island in which they are faced with situations that teach them to handle sensations like stress, frustration, impulsiveness, or negative emotions.

In addition, the game includes a biosensor that at all times measures parameters like breathing, heart rate, skin reactivity, or temperature, so if it is intuited that the player is subjected to a excessively stressful situation you are led to a relaxation area showing you a constellation whose stars are to be connected through deep breaths.

Interestingly, this video game has also proven to be useful in treating other disorders such as gambling addiction, paradoxical as it may seem.

5. Improve dyslexia through action video games

Although dyslexia is not a severe mental disorderI know that it is true that it is a brain condition that, if not detected or properly treated, can lead to those suffering from it developing problems. both school and work.

So day by day experts in the field develop new techniques to help these people, who often have trouble reading due to a alteration of the order or form of the letters and a continuous confusion between left and right.

One of the most curious treatments was the one studied in 2013 by a group of researchers from the Padua University, who submitted to ten dyslexic children to nine sessions of 80 minutes playing a action video game.

Meanwhile, ten other children played a variant of the same game; whose only difference was the absence of action.

At the end of the test period, the results were compared in a series of tests to measure dyslexiain both groups of children, checking that the first ones showed a noticeable improvement which also remained for two months.

All this reinforces the belief of some researchers about the involvement in dyslexia of problems in the focus of letters and words of a page. So; Action video games, which quickly change the targets on which the player must act, lead to an improvement in the ability to focus their attention on a variable objective.

Therefore, the use of this type of games can be very beneficial if it is combined with the usual treatments. That is, restricting the children’s playtime to avoid possible addiction problems.

As you see, video games can be much more beneficial than we think, as long as a balance is maintained that allows us to continue having a life beyond the screens. The secret is in the moderation.

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