Tuesday, May 06, 2008

BPN 1090 Casual games relieve stress

East Carolina University (ECU) reveals the results of a 6-month randomized, controlled study that confirms positive health benefits of so-called "casual" video games. The study was conducted between October 2007 and April 2008 and included a total of 134 subjects. The family-friendly puzzle / word games used in the study - Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Bookworm Adventures - are made by PopCap Games, whose customer surveys last year indicated similar casual gaming benefits.

ECU's study yielded significant findings and identified potential therapeutic applications of casual games as a means of addressing serious mental and physical disorders. The study will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and full results will be presented at the Games For Health Conference by Dr. Caremen Russoniello, associate professor and director of the Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Center at ECU.

Bejeweled 2 was found to reduce stress activity by 54%
compared to the control group. Peggle and Bookworm Adventures did not reduce subjects' physical stress levels significantly but did affect psychological tension, depression and other aspects of mood, in some cases dramatically (see below).

Mood was measured in six different categories (broken out below). Cumulatively, these categories are called "total mood disturbance," - a decrease in total mood disturbance being a positive change in mood. Peggle had the greatest affect, improving mood by 573% across all study subjects - with Bejeweled 2 at 435% and Bookworm Adventures at 303%.

1. Psychological Tension
Peggle had the greatest affect, with study subjects who played that game averaging a 66% reduction in psychological tension.

2. Anger
Bejeweled 2 and Peggle were shown to reduce anger by 65% and 63% respectively. Among female subjects, Peggle produced the greatest anger reduction (86%) while men experienced the greatest reduction of anger while playing Bejeweled 2 (63%).

3. Depression
All three games had similar affects on depression, reducing depressions levels by 45% (Peggle), 43% (Bookworm Adventures) and 37% (Bejeweled 2). Dr. Russoniello says: "If these games can reduce depression this significantly among a population of people who are not diagnosed with depression, the potential for positively affecting the mental state of someone who is in fact depressed is very significant."

4. Vigor
Bejeweled increased Vigor by an average of 210% among subjects who played that game.

5. Fatigue
Peggle reduced fatigue by an average of 61% among subjects who played that game.

6. Confusion
Subjects playing Peggle saw confusion drop by an average of 486%, while those playing Bookworm Adventures (462%) and Bejeweled 2 (426%) also experienced sizable reductions.

Blog Posting Number: 1090

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