Therapy simply means treating any injury or illness without medicines. Aspects of Videogames in terms of effects on the human body are various and one of them is its benefits like therapy. In light of this context, researches and studies have been going on for a long time to make the benefits visible to everyone. Both physical and mental improvements/treatments have been observed in gamers from a therapeutic point of view.
1. Mental Instigation Video games require thinking of all types like critical, analytical, planning, and strategizing. To win you need to keep your brain very active and keep responding spontaneously to all the challenges imposed in the game and hence keep thinking. This makes your brain cells super active and building up your thinking skills.
2.Boosting Mental Health Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder( PTSD) are some of the mental disorders that are healing through playing video games. Psychological trauma and pain require distraction for relief and Videogames can act as a distraction for these conditions acting as a soothing benefit.
3.Interaction with Unknowns Multiplayer online gaming involves playing with people in groups. This teaches how to interact and make yourself comfortable with others to achieve a common goal. This also makes you go through circumstances where you need to be selective about whom to plan within the playing group and whom to leave behind.
Encouraging cooperation is also a good skill learned by playing and trying to achieve one goal with new people.
4.Emotional Bounce back Losing a game is as frustrating as losing a battle. But, Videogames can act as therapeutic healing in developing the thinking of bouncing back and trying again and again without giving up. This ability to not give up is a life term benefit if learned through gaming.
5.Increased Grey Matter Mental exercise can be performed through video games. According to the studies, increased Grey Matter and boosted brain connectivity has been found in gamers. Muscle control, Perception, Spatial Navigation, Memories are associated with Grey Matter.
6.Improved Reading Skills In 2013, a study published in Cell reported an investigation of the effects of playing action games like ‘Rayman Raving Rabbids for dyslexic children in age group 7 to 13 years. They were found to read faster with accuracy. The Researchers think that children had longer attention spans due to the increased speed of the game. However, this hypothesis is to be tested still.
7.Reduced Reaction times Being able to focus on only main tasks without getting distracted by other images, sounds and graphics have also been found to be a benefit of videogames. Improved focus means faster reactions and subsequently better solutions to the hurdles in the games.
Research on Game types and their effects
As per a research paper published by Radboud University Nijmegen named ‘The Benefits of Playing Video Games’ this diagram below shows the choice gamers about what type of game to play is dependent on two factors: Level of Complexity and Extent of Social Interaction required
The diagram shows how the video games creators target all kinds of people with a variety of games and the skills required to play them as per the simplicity and complexity of their behavior and social and nonsocial interaction habits.
The paper https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf also focuses on Cognitive, Motivational, Emotional, and Social Benefits of Video Games.
SPARX is a videogame used as a counseling tool in the real world. The game is based on fantasy world and overall having seven levels to clear with each level taking about half an hour. The game is developed to decrease depression. The levels consisting of puzzles, quests, and adventures tech about the skill to manage your mental health well and good.
There is also a level in which the traveler teaches the user the secret to a breathing exercise as a reward if he/she clears the task. The game’s ultimate goal is to develop a shield against depression which is achieved by the skills developed in clearing the stages of this game.
In the British Medical Journal, a study was published which showed that SPARX players were scoring better in terms of reduction in depression than those who were not playing this game. Researchers concluded that SPARX can act as a supplement to counseling.
Also, there was a game developed by Hunter College and City University of New York called Personal Zen which claimed to be reducing stress in about 25 minutes. In the game, the user has to trace a burrowing avatar’s path. Meanwhile, a soothing soundtrack is played over a placid field of green grass.
Though the Researchers were not convinced about the game’s effectiveness in treating advanced cases of medical illness but can be used as an advantage over other clients when the meeting is not possible. It can be studied in detail at https://onlinedegrees.bradley.edu/blog/how-gamification-can-be-used-in-counseling/
Hence, it is widely accepted and researched after fact that video games do act as a therapy for treating mental and physical health.