Study: Casual Video Games Helps Reduce Depression and Anxiety

I believe this to be true. At the end of 2009, I played Bejeweled Blitz for hours — something I rarely do. We had a family crisis and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Playing the game gave me purpose (trying to top my friends’ high scores) and helped me relax a little. Games also come to the rescue when my brain won’t focus.

It’s like those times when you don’t feel like going to a party or another social event. Once you get there, smile and chat… you feel better. Casual games (non-violent, family-friendly) do that for me and I can get on with my day. Here are the details of the study:

East Carolina University’s Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic completed a year-long randomized, controlled clinical study to look at the efficiency of casual video games for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Almost 60 subjects that met the criteria of clinical depression participated in the study. Half of the subjects were part of the control group. The participants played three family-friendly, non-violent puzzle games: Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Bookworm Adventures. (All of the games are made by PopCap Games, underwriter of the study.)

The result was a 57 percent reduction of depression symptoms along with improved moods.

“The results of this study clearly demonstrate the intrinsic value of certain casual games in terms of significant, positive effects on the moods and anxiety levels of people suffering from any level of depression,” stated Dr. Carmen Russoniello, Director of the Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic at ECU and the professor who oversaw the study (as well as previous studies involving the same games’ effects on stress levels). “In my opinion the findings support the possibility of using prescribed casual video games for treating depression and anxiety as an adjunct to, or perhaps even a replacement for, standard therapies including medication.”

Ehh… I’m not sure I’d recommend games as a replacement to standard therapies and medicine. But at least, it’s an option that might work with all the therapies or for those who are just feeling down, but haven’t been diagnosed with depression. Depression is a real problem, a real illness. But some don’t see it as a real illness without physical symptoms. Nonetheless, games do affect the mood and chase the doldrums away.

Russoniello said that the games had both short term (after 30 minutes of game play) and long term (after one month) effects when compared to the control group.

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Meryl Evans

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And she cooks, too! When Cookie the Chef leaves Flo’s Diner to pursue a career on a popular cooking reality TV show, he creates a shortage of chefs in DinerTown by inviting them all to appear as guest stars. It’s up to Flo to pick up the slack with a whole new set of food service skills! Help Flo and Grandma Florence keep five DinerTown restaurants up and running…if you can stand the heat!

  • Over 50 levels of game play
  • Master the art of perfectly prepared meals in five different restaurants
  • 3D rendered characters add dimension to the animation

Play Cooking Dash.

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From Popcap release (shortened): Steve Day was a man on a mission – now he’s the proud possessor of the world’s highest-scoring Peggle shot. A currency trader from Portsmouth on England’s southern coast who previously spent a dozen years as a software developer, Steve achieved his 18-million+ point shot after being inspired by a video of the previous best shot, a 13-million point shot by Max Daube of Australia, using the same level and power-up. Steve’s YouTube video of his shot, along with a shot-by-shot “video tutorial” of the entire level on which the shot occurred.

After buying Peggle Deluxe and completing most of the game, Steve did a Google search looking for tips on scoring 750,000 points on one level – generally considered the toughest of the game’s 75 “Challenge Mode” hurdles. “If I hadn’t found the YouTube replay of Max’s wondrous shot, I don’t think I’d have ever thought of it myself,” Steve admits. “I’d already managed to clear all of the pegs on that level (“Beyond Reason,” the last level in the game, known less formally as “Zen Frog”) using the “space blast” power-up, but thanks to the videos on You Tube I finally achieved the 750K challenge. However, having completed the game I felt somehow robbed of what had become my working companion, and having read some of the comments on You Tube regarding the ‘impossibility’ of clearing the side pegs, I decided to see if I could find a way, and perhaps set a new scoring record in the process.”

“First, I set about finding a way to clear all the pegs – orange and blue – from the sides of the level without creating holes in the central ‘DNA strands’ of pegs due to ricochets,” he recalls. “As it turned out I achieved this in only an hour or so. I employed the same technique I’d used obtaining the ‘100% clear’ on some of the harder levels, namely picking logical landmarks on the screen to use as mouse position markers. In this way I could easily replicate the shots, and when combined with a little ‘bucket timing’ could be guaranteed of getting a free ball to boot. Clearing the hole at the bottom of the helix proved more difficult though, since it was a moving target; and it took awhile longer to work out some shots that had at least a 70% chance of getting a free ball.”

Steve continues, “By this time I was regularly getting 5 million point finishes, and completing probably 1 in 5 attempts, and I had decided I wanted to beat the 13.5 million by a decent margin, and make a video to put on YouTube. It had also become apparent that the highest scores were dependent on having a large number of blue pegs left to clear after the last orange peg had been hit. So having got 14 Million a couple of times, the extremely lucky 18 Million point shot came about through a combination of the law of averages and 3 ‘lottery winner’ type lucky shots, each being the result of miss-timed shots that ended up kicking the bucket, taking out an extra peg or two, and miraculously ending up back in the bucket where I had originally intended them to go. It was these extra pegs, and a lucky final shot, that secured the very pleasing Cool Clear and Ultra Extreme Fever – though I don’t think that this added greatly to the final score. Of course getting an extra ball off of Reinfeld was just the icing on the cake and did add 300K to the score board which was a nice touch.”

As for the painstakingly shot and edited “how-to” video that follows the footage of the shot itself in Steve’s YouTube video, “I wanted to make a ‘live play’ tutorial section to show that it was indeed possible to clear the side pegs without touching the inner helix,” Steve explains. Indeed, Steve’s exhaustive video tutorial provides details on each and every shot of his record-breaking effort, including exactly where to position the cursor prior to launching each shot AND location and direction of the bucket below the playfield when each shot is launched.

When asked whether he believes his record will stand the test of time, Steve is realistic to say the least. “I’m under no illusion that my score is somehow ‘unbeatable’ – and in fact would love to see someone top it,” he grins. “That was the intention behind the tutorial in the video, to see if collectively the Peggle Deluxe community could compile enough information to achieve and even better shot and score. However there must be an absolute theoretical ceiling on the maximum score possible. Hopefully someday we’ll get to see what it is!”

Peggle review.

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Snippets taken from long press release.

According to a new survey conducted by Information Solutions Group on behalf of PopCap Games, more than one in five (20.5%) players of casual video games have a physical, mental or developmental disability.

Those with disabilities report that they experience more significant benefits from playing and view their game-playing activity as a more important factor in their lives than do non-disabled consumers.

The most common types of disabilities and medical conditions cited by respondents, by category, were:

  • Physical: Rheumatoid Arthritis/Osteoarthritis (14%); Fibromyalgia (11%); Multiple Sclerosis (7%).
  • Mental: Moderate/Severe Depression (41%); Bipolar Disorder (16%); Anxiety Disorder (15%).
  • Developmental/Learning: ADD/ADHD (46%); Autism (15%); Dyslexia (11%).

The majority (61%) of those survey respondents with a physical disability are age 50 or older, while slightly more than half (52%) of those with a developmental/learning disability are under 18 years of age.

Perceived Benefits of Play

Fully 94% of disabled players of casual games said they believe playing casual games “provides physical or mental benefits” — compared to 80% of casual game players overall. The most common benefits cited by disabled gamers (when asked to choose as many as applied) were stress relief (81%), mood lifting (69%), distraction from issues related to disability (66%), improved concentration (59%) and mental workouts (58%).

Interestingly, the top benefits varied significantly based on the type of disability; the top three benefits by disability type were:

  • Physical: Stress relief (84%) and distraction from issues related to disability (73%)
  • Mental: Stress relief (87%) and mood-lifting (78%)
  • Developmental/Learning: Improved concentration (79%) and improved coordination/manual dexterity (73%)

Those with developmental/learning disabilities cited learning (pattern recognition, spelling, typing skills) far more often (61%) than those with disabilities that were mental (26%) or physical (23%).

Furthermore, 77% of disabled players said playing casual games provides them with “additional benefits over and above what a typical non-disabled player might experience.”

Of the “additional benefits,” responses were numerous and varied, often citing deeper sensations of achievement and “belonging,” or distraction from loneliness and/or chronic pain. As one respondent put it, “Our son with Attention Deficit Disorder does not really remember he has a disability when he is playing.”

Dr. Carl Arinoldo, a Stony Brook, New York-based psychologist of 25 years’ experience who has treated patients with a range of physical and mental disabilities, agrees: “With some forms of depression, a person may be very focused on something that clearly amounts to a misperception of reality. So the chance to distance themselves from the perceived negative situation and relax may allow them to think more clearly and consider the situation later in a more realistic manner.”

You get the idea… casual games rule!!!

If you want all of the gory details, GamesIndustry has posted the entire press release.

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans

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I don’t need a study to tell me that playing casual games helps relieve stress and improve my mood. When the writing muse stays away or my spirits drop, I play a game I need to review. Almost every time (don’t like to use 100%), I feel better after a few rounds of a casual game.

See the results of the study and the Popcap Games press release.

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2008_boardofexperts.gifIt’s already time to start recognizing the best software for Windows Mobile devices and smartphones running Windows Mobile. If you know of a product that deserves a nomination, go to the nomination form or check out the awards page, which contains 2007 winners and questions with their answers.

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1980 Games

My husband treated himself (OK, so the rest of us like it, too) to an arcade game… the real thing. It has 42 games from the ’80s, much of what you’ll find on 1980 games.

Emulators make it possible for these games to make a return. Just be prepared… the graphics aren’t what we’re used to from today’s games.

I recommend those at work not to go to the site. It has a reference to adult games. While it’s just a link, the image shows a woman — not exactly something you want a passerby to see. Besides, why are you playing games at work? 🙂

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Cooking Mama 2 Coming Soon

DS Fanboy reports Cooking Mama gets a sequel, Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends, the new release comes with 80 new recipes and 150 cooking procedures (holy macaroni!).

I’ve played Cooking Mama and it’s a unique game. One task I kept messing up was the blowing. Forgot that the DS has the volume thing and blowing qualifies.

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Turbo Pizza New PC Game

Rebecca and Robert are on a quest to build a successful restaurant franchise! In Turbo Pizza, you have full control over their pizza destiny. Decide when its right to purchase new appliances, better menu options, or put resources behind developing Rebecca and Roberts skills. Save enough money to open a second location in an even MORE unique setting. Meet your customers needs and word of mouth will bring the masses. Remember though, different customers have different needs.

* 50 challenging levels.
* Set up shop in 2 locations.
* Earn money to buy new items.

Download the game from your favorite site

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