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.

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magic encyclopedia illusions feature New Release: Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light was a well-rounded hidden object game. Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions is the third release in the series. Catherine learns of an attack on the Magic Academy, and sets out to save her school from a fate worse than foreclosure.

In her quest, she learns about The Illusionist, a wizard that’s changed the appearance of countless objects around the world and is gathering an unstoppable army. To defeat her nemesis, Catherine must figure out ways to switch back and forth between reality and deception to solve puzzles in Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions.

Download and try Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions.

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 Facebooks Jewel Comes to PC: Bejeweled Blitz
I’m a BB-holic, a Bejeweled Blitz-holic. I couldn’t stop playing the game over winter break until I finally set a resolution to break free. I played one day in the first week of January and haven’t touched it since.

Well, Popcap Games — the company behind the addiction — has released a Bejeweled Blitz for Windows. You don’t have to be on Facebook to play it. You don’t have to be connected to the Internet to play it.

The Windows version offers:

  • Full screen play.
  • Ability to play without an Internet connection.
  • More control over your screen size.
  • More audio sound and effects.
  • One million coins for “Blitz Boosts,” power ups and score-stimulating effects (must buy the game from Popcap to get the coins and use with Facebook Connect).
  • 48 achievement badges to earn.
  • Connect Facebook from the game’s main menu and play the game from the PC without having to open a Web browser. The game will publish high scores and star medals to your Facebook page when logged in Facebook.

You can download a free trial of Bejeweled Blitz, or buy the game.

 Facebooks Jewel Comes to PC: Bejeweled Blitz
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New Release: Diner Dash 5: Boom

diner dash 5 boom collectors edition feature New Release: Diner Dash 5: BoomDiner Dash 5: Boom Collector’s Edition blows up today, that is, it’s available for downloading for club members. Diner Dash‘s Flo’s Diner is smashed to bits. Flo needs cash to renovate her restaurant within a week or deal with some serious repercussions. So help Flo seat, serve and save the day in the time management game that involves dealing with weird weather conditions in outdoor settings. You can also build a unique diner with 1000 combinations.

Can you believe Flo first captured customers’ stomachs five years ago? “Since the debut of the franchise in 2004, the Diner Dash series has been downloaded more than 550 million times,” says PlayFirst.

Diner Dash 5: Boom Collector’s Edition includes:

  • Five advanced levels of exclusive game play.
  • Strategy guide and walk-through to reach expert level.
  • Behind-the-scenes concept art book.
  • Animated screen saver and wallpapers.
  • “Flo Over Time” historical retrospective.

Not much information about the game is out there yet as people could not download it until today.

Kenny Shea Dinkin, PlayFirst’s Chief Creative Officer, says the company wanted to ensure the latest edition remains fresh and innovative without feeling like “the same ol’.” So what does PlayFirst do? Blow up the dinner and give players 50 levels of outdoor dining around DinerTown’s neighborhoods. Since her debut five years ago, Flo has found her way on iPhones, Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendeo DS, PlayStation Network and WiiWare. Wowii! Here are some of the Diner Dash games available on Amazon.

If you’d rather save the dough, a standard $6.99 version will come along later.

FYI: Big Fish Game Club is a monthly membership that lets you get the daily deal game for $2.99, credit every month to redeem for most games on the site and play “Tomorrow’s Game” today. The club costs $6.99 on a monthly basis and you can cancel membership anytime. I had no trouble canceling membership.

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Social Games and Other News

300px Bejeweled deluxe sc1 Social Games and Other News
Image via Wikipedia

Howdy, all! Thanks for sticking with me. I know I have not reviewed a game in a while — for a good reason. I’ve had eye pain that interferes with playing games on top of the regular work I do on the computer all day, every day. So for now, I’m bringing you updates and what I think are good games. Does that work for you?

Social Gaming Survey

PopCap Games Social Games and Other News shares the results of a social gaming survey [pdf file]. I admit I used to be hooked on Facebook’s Bejeweled Blitz, but finally kicked the habit. It’s a great game to play when you need a stress break or can’t think. That is the only social game that has sucked me in. I avoid discovering new ones as I do not have time for this stuff! It’s easier with downloadable PC games because you generally have a start and finish.

The survey says that a population of about 100 million in the U.S. and U.K. play games on social media sites like Facebook and MySpace. And the cool news? The average social gamer is a 43-year old woman. That’s good news for PopCap Games Social Games and Other News because it’s the company behind the addiction of many of my friends: Facebook Bejeweled Blitz.

New Releases

Black Circle: A Carol Reed Mystery: Summer arrives and a neighbor asks English private detective Carol Reed to look into the discovery of a dead body that mysteriously disappears. In this hidden object game, Carol interviews suspects and helpful residents to get to the bottom of this stranger’s death. What starts as a routine investigation quickly becomes something more as Carol uncovers broken alliances and a cult long thought to be inactive.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb: Continuation of the popular Aveyond adventure game series. Mel’s wedding day isn’t going according to plan. Her worst enemy stole her man, and a mysterious ghost appears to tell Mel that her evil ancestor, Mordred Darkthrop, has passed down his most precious possession to her: a magical orb with the power of death. Wanting nothing to do with her wicked ancestor, Mel must now seek out the orb and destroy it, before someone else with the power to use it discovers its location.

Ancient Rome: In this time management game, you help grow the ancient Roman Empire by setting up cities and providing valuable resources throughout the land. Produce goods, construct new buildings and attract new workers as you expand the reach of the Roman Empire, a fast-paced strategy game. Meet your goals and accept valuable rewards from the emperor to set up your own piece of land and carve your name into the annals of history.

Awakening: The Dreamless Castle: After awakening in a mysterious castle it’s up to you to collect clues and valuable items needed to solve perplexing puzzles and escape. Listen to the fairy as she guides you towards the exit. The game comes with minigames and lock puzzles that lead you to the next room in the castle. In this hidden object game, you search for the next hint and discover a young Princess’ destiny.

Play anything good lately?

 Social Games and Other News
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nightfall mysteries curse of the opera feature New Game Release: Nightfall Mysteries – Curse of the OperaWith the weather bad in many places (we have snow in Texas) — it’s a great time to cuddle up with a fun adventure and hidden object game. If you enjoyed Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst and PC Game Review: Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, download Nightfall Mysteries – Curse of the Opera and don’t bother reading the rest of this.

I haven’t checked out Nightfall Mysteries – Curse of the Opera because I’ve had to lay off games and using the computer in the evenings due to eye problems. But I’m hearing it’s the kind of game that fans of point-and-click adventures will want to play while waiting for the sequel of their favorite to be released.

Take on the role of a lowly stagehand in an opera company tasked with solving a deadly mystery! The Opera troupe is invited by the reclusive Count Vladd Vansig III to his small hamlet to perform a special Opera for him. Strangely, there are no villagers to speak of except for the Count and his caretaker. Over the course of the night, people go missing and are killed! Use your Hidden Object skills to find out the identity of the killer and escape the village alive in Nightfall Mysteries – Curse of the Opera!
free download New Game Release: Nightfall Mysteries – Curse of the Opera

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farm frenzy 3 feature New Releases: Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie and Ice Age

This is the third Farm Frenzy 3. I appreciate the developer for keeping the numbering at three because it shows there’s not much difference in terms of game play. The main difference is the setting, so there’s no misleading anyone claiming it’s a whole new game with enhancements. The series has many fans who are happy to keep playing the same game with new challenges.

Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie: Manage five different farms around the world and try your hand at penguin breeding and jewelry making in Farm Frenzy 3! Enjoy outrageously fun levels, wacky animals and more upgrades than there are ears in a field of corn! Grow crops, feed animals, collect produce and manufacture goods, while you enjoy zany animation! Help Scarlett become the president of the Farmers` Union by earning the votes of the people she helps.

Farm Frenzy 3: Ice Age: Join Scarlett as she leaves sunshine and warm temperatures behind and travels to the North Pole to check out a farm she purchased through a newspaper ad. When she arrives, she not only finds the property in a state of disrepair, she also meets two brothers who could use her help making ice cream. While whipping up chilly treats in 90 levels of frosty fun, you’ll breed and care for penguins and other arctic animals, manufacture new products and enjoy a parade of visual gags. You’ll also meet a surprise guest who will show his appreciation for your hard work in a special way! Who is it?

Here’s the list of all the Farm Frenzys.

Farm Mania 2 is also out. Anna of Farm Mania is back again! This time she is even more enthusiastic, active and full of great ideas! Wanna have your own farm? No problems! Fruits and vegetables, animals and fishes, dairy plant and bakery – you can have it all with in Farm Mania 2! By the way, Anna got married to a strong and charming farmer Bob and now all their dreams are coming true! You can help them!

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Cradle of Rome is one of my all-time favorite match three games. I played it for days and hours trying to get the last trophy and finish the 100th level. I never reached either goal. Alas, I had to move on as games needed to be played and reviewed.

Of course, I am excited about the upcoming release of Cradle of Rome 2, which is due out in the spring of 2010. Here’s a preview from Awem Studio:

Awem also posts its developer’s diary for those wanting details.

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gotcha celebrity secrets Coming Soon: Gotcha: Celebrity SecretsPlayFirst has announced the upcoming launch of Gotcha: Celebrity Secrets, a hidden object game set in the world of celebrity sass and scandal. Launching December 15, 2009 on Playfirst.com, and other retailers beginning January 15, 2010, Gotcha: Celebrity Secrets will be available for PC and Mac Digital Download, priced at $19.95.

Gotcha puts you in the shoes of Gaby, a green but intrepid celebrity blogger, on a mission to uncover the juiciest gossip. Instead of searching for objects, players search for people. Plays hunt for special informants bursting with potential news at jet set events, jam-packed parties and red carpet galas. Gaby tries to unearth the details surrounding celebrity secrets like hush hush nuptials, new nip and tuck surgeries, who is having who’s baby (and what is it named?) and more. Locating these influential insiders is no easy task, as players need to scour over 40 crowded scenes throughout town.

Players will also face unique Tinsel Town challenges as they hunt for gossip, such as maneuvering past security guards, moving limos and crowd-clogging confetti. And of course, players will need to contend with camera-shy personas who don’t want Gaby digging up their secrets. A collection of all-new mini-games challenge sleuths to piece together clues from informants, leading to salacious stories about the most sought-after personas in the biz.

Gotcha will have players looking for over 1,000 different characters, ranging from crazy and cool, to everything in between, each with a one-of-kind take on Hollywood. All of which ends up on Gaby’s celebrity blog, which players can customize with an array of styles and upgrades. Player’s will dish on the hottest happenings at venues including a Night Club, Airport, Charity Functions, Reality Shows and more. Players will turn the town over looking for spicy rumors, gossip and more on their way to the top of the celebrity blogosphere.

Watch for the game on Playfirst.

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cooking dash 2Large Released: <em>Cooking Dash   DinerTown Studios</em>Trouble on the set! Flo’s friend Gilda needs help feeding the cast and crew of her TV show. You prepare, cook, assemble and serve the delicious menu items from each TV-themed restaurant. Watch for celebrities, but beware of the short-tempered director who will make sure everyone gets back to work quickly! Can you successfully feed the egos and stomachs of the cast and crew before they walk off the set?

Sounds like Food Network’s “Who will be the next Food Network Star” Diner Dash style. I look forward to trying this out as I’ve been on a Food Network and Travel Network kick lately. Plus, I loved the original Cooking Dash.

Download Cooking Dash – DinerTown Studios to give it a try.

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