10 Ways Video Games Can Be Therapeutic


Video games are primarily a recreational activity. Almost all games are developed with the aim of entertaining the player. However, this does not mean that their use is limited to fun. Video games can also provide effective therapeutic tools for medical and psychological providers.

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Professionals have incorporated toys and entertainment activities into their treatment plans for hundreds of years, especially when working with pediatric patients. As a newer technology, video games have been less implemented than other gaming methods, but their use in the field is steadily increasing as the benefits of their implementation show up in ongoing studies.

ten Performance of certain gaming skills can monitor symptoms

Although a player’s skill and success in gaming tasks varies from person to person, their individual performance may show trends. Several studies have observed the use of commercial video games as tools for monitoring patient status. One, in particular, focused on the use of the game of solitaire free cell to monitor cognitive function in elderly patients without interfering with their daily activities.

Repeated and monitored administration of the same level or task in video games has the potential to aid in the ongoing assessment of symptoms for various patient groups.

9 Players’ reactions to the circumstances of the game can help in the evaluation

Video games can also be used to aid professionals as a therapeutic tool in diagnostic assessments. An article on the use of video games in psychotherapy processing describes the multiple uses games could have in this environment.

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A patient’s reactions to gambling events and circumstances could be used to determine details of their cognitive processing, such as frustration tolerance, memory, and motor skills. Their effectiveness in play and progress in tasks can also help the provider determine their ability to improvise in problem solving.

8 The game can improve visuomotor controls

Video games, by their very nature, require players to have a certain level of hand-eye coordination. However, playing them can also improve players’ ability in this area. A psychological scientific study from 2016 observed that even five hours of playing an action game could improve patients’ measured visuomotor abilities and their response to visual input.

According to this logic, consistent play of high-intensity games with fast-paced mechanics, such as first-person shooters or driving games, would help players continue to develop and improve their visuomotor control.

seven In-game exposure can enhance development of communication skills

Assessment of several years of study on video games and their applicability in health revealed that gaming can aid in the development of multiple types of communication skills. In one case, providing prior exposure to the task of selecting options from an on-screen menu in a video game helped patients with nonverbal disabilities learn to use technological communication devices.

Other observed cases have shown that games’ pacing, narratives and visual instructions make them ideal tools for enhancing children’s life skills development through play.

6 The game maintains physical safety in trigger situations

For many people, the difficult situations that popular video games explore can be triggered, either due to mental health issues or due to prior trauma. On the other hand, some see this content as an opportunity to revisit upsetting content while maintaining a sense of security. Video games provide immersive environments that allow the player to feel part of the story.

However, they physically remain in the safety of their own surroundings, regardless of what is happening in the game. security to play more intense titles.

Gaming has always been a somewhat social activity, dating back to the days of the arcades. As cooperative games progress and gain in quality, their popularity among couples and close relationships also increases. Many gaming couples have said that the time they spend together playing games and their shared interest in the hobby are the cornerstones of their relationships.

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Cooperative games require players to work together and communicate effectively to successfully complete tasks and quests. Gamers praised recent titles like It takes two for their relationship-focused cooperative gameplay.

4 Games provide an immersive distraction from physical circumstances

Any gamer will tell you that one of the beneficial properties of video games is the element of escapism. The game’s innate immersive qualities can distract the player from real-life circumstances they might wish to avoid.

An article in a 2006 edition of the journal of pediatric anesthesia showed that playing a handheld video game was more effective in reducing preoperative anxiety in children than medication. In moderation, the remoteness from reality that video games provide can benefit people with many types of issues.

3 Challenging Games Combat Perfectionism

For those who experience anxiety about perfectionism, video games can provide them with a safe space to experience failure. While the stakes may seem high in-game, having to retry a level or boss has no real-life consequences. They can keep retrying as many times as it takes to progress through the game.

Many gamers love demanding titles, such as the roguelike genre or the works of FromSoftware, for this exact process, touting the feeling of victory they feel when triumphing over a challenge after repeated attempts.

2 Stories surrounding personal struggles bring solidarity

For developers and gamers alike, the popularity of games focused on personal struggles shows them that they are not alone. Titles like Celestial, Grey, Omoriand night in the woods tell the stories of their protagonists struggling with mental illness.

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Players who have experienced similar issues can relate to and see themselves in the characters and their emotional journeys. As a result, these games can inspire players to confront their inner demons with the same voracity they apply to boss battles and complex levels.

Some of the most important factors for any type of recovery are a stable support system and a sense of community. Gaming can be a gateway into these areas, as many gamers forge strong social groups through their common interests. Whether through in-game chat in multiplayer online titles or through fandom around their favorite games, players can build relationships based on their love of the game.

Online games, in particular, can be an important social tool for those who find it difficult to interact in person or cannot leave their homes.

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Carolyn M. Daniel