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Casual gaming can treat depression (according to study backed by giant casual games developer)

A study out of East Carolina University's Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic has suggested that playing casual games can rival traditional therapy and medication in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Huzzah! Take that all you snobby, hardcore, casual gaming haters.

Wait... what? The study was underwritten by PopCap Games? We retract our previous statement.


Above: :(

Conducted in 2010, the study split 59 participants with depression into two groups: those that got to play Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Bookworm Adventures, and those that were made to surf the National Institutes of Mental Health's Web page (aka the control group). Lo and behold, the study found that the participants who played games noted dramatic improvements in their mood and anxiety levels, as indicated in follow-up questionnaires and sensory data.

To recap: playing games while depressed has a better chance of improving your mood than reading about depression when depressed. Science, you win again.

Speaking to the implications of the study, research director Dr. Carmen Russoniello said, “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."

While we're sure the people behind the study are more than qualified to conduct studies of this kind (not sarcasm), this particular body of research – backed financially by PopCap Games, no less - is just a wee bit on the shaky side (sarcasm). Which is a shame, really, because the idea of being prescribed video games as a treatment for depression has some merit, and if it ever happens, you can bet I'll be the first one wearing dark eye-liner, listening to The Smiths, and writing bad poetry for the sake of insurance-covered gaming.

[Source: PRNewswire]

Feb 17, 2011

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14 comments

  • RonnyLive19881 - February 17, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    HELL YEAH! Nintendo:Curing Depression of 3/4 of a century!
  • Omegadash - February 17, 2011 7:33 p.m.

    @RonnyLive19881: did you even read the article, there's nothing here about nintendo other than a picture of a sad mario :P
  • RonnyLive19881 - February 17, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    What do you think?
  • dphoenix192 - February 17, 2011 7:49 p.m.

    Logically thinking, wouldn't doing something fun help with depression no matter what. I mean casual games are designed so that anyone can start playing and having fun with it quickly. This really isn't that big of a surprise. On a second note, there was no evidence on how much effect it has nor whether it provides a sustainable treatment. It hasn't really done anything except say that you feel less depressed when you are doing something fun. That is like saying you get a sweet taste in your mouth when you are eating candy. Its true, but offers nothing.
  • Z-man427 - February 17, 2011 8:23 p.m.

    I think the more important thing to note is that so called "Control Group". Do people with depress actually spend their time reading about depression? From my understanding and experience, they loaf around doing nothing, rather than trying to understand what's going on with them. Reading about an illness usually makes people feel worse, right? A true control group would be told not to deviate from their normal routines. Because of that alone, the results are skewed, regardless of who the underwriter of the study was.
  • GreenLeader - February 17, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    Interesting.... I can see how someone in a bad mood would cheer up while playing a video game. However, why would you make the other half of the group read about depression on a website as a control? It doesn't make sense, at least to me. In any case, how much ya wanna bet the news will never find this worthy of being on air?
  • DeadlyViper95 - February 17, 2011 9:43 p.m.

    unless the game is demon souls.....or super meat boy...those games lead to suicide lol
  • Spybreak8 - February 18, 2011 1:46 a.m.

    It's simple, participate in something that you enjoy and your stress will decrease. Duh, hell most of my friends in high school were messed up more from the medication they were advised to take.
  • FreedomPhantom - February 18, 2011 1:50 a.m.

    Excellent title! oh the hypocrisy
  • Gurkogg - February 18, 2011 2:27 a.m.

    I suffer from severe chronic depression and all the good games do is keep me from completely turning into a vegetable during one of my 'bad' periods (that pop up for no reason). Its just a band-aid and not a real treatment.
  • Church3000 - February 18, 2011 3:23 a.m.

    Why did they have the control group read about depression? they should have had them play hardcore games that would have made sense.
  • ElGrinchoid - February 18, 2011 4:17 a.m.

    Surely it's casual gaming that causes depression in us real gamers? Why didn't they take 50 hardcore gaming fans and get them to play some of the utter garbage, 3rd party shovelware shite that keeps getting thrown into the market and see how depressed they became? (With massive apologies to people who actually do have depression)
  • Sy87 - February 18, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    That makes sense they are a good escape. The online networks are pretty much just my only social interaction. Real life is just so pitiful.
  • Japanaman - February 18, 2011 7:33 p.m.

    Casual games depress me. Long live HARDCORE GAMING!!!

Showing 1-14 of 14 comments

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