Designing Video Games for Mental Health

By Douglas Eby
There are many different flavors of video games – and many critical or conflicting studies on their psychological and social impacts. Articles on Psych Central, for example, include Brain Scans Show Violent Video Games Alter Brain Activity, By Rick Nauert PhD and Video Games May Not Enhance Cognitive Skills After All, By Traci Pedersen.
Gaming is not of any particular interest to me, but I was intrigued with a recent newspaper report about Erin Reynolds, a USC cinematic arts graduate student, and her team who are developing a video game that “uses heart-rate sensors to help players learn to stay calm as they wind their way through a decrepit house filled with their characters’ horrific memories.
“She believes her psychological thriller game, Nevermind, can help people develop ways to cope with stress.”
[From USC competition pushes the limits of modern video games, By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times December 11, 2011.]
The Nevermind site explains their upcoming game:
“You can’t fix stress – it is a constant force in our everyday lives that spans geographic borders and cultures. However, you can fix the unhealthy, knee-jerk responses many people have to stress and prepare people to face inevitable conflict. This is exactly what Nevermind intends to do.

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