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Study: Casual Video Games Demonstrate Ability to Relieve Stress, Improve Mood: Potential Clinical Significance Highlighted
Date:4/28/2008

in a peer-reviewed journal later this year. High-level findings of the study are provided below. Additional data, including detailed charts, can be found at http://www.edu.ecu/biofeedback.

"I've conducted many clinical studies in the area of recreational therapy in the past, but this was the first one seeking to determine the potential therapeutic value of video games," stated Dr. Russoniello. "The results of this study are impressive and intriguing, given the extent of the effects of the games on subjects' stress levels and overall mood. When coupled with the very high degree of confidence we have in those results based on the methodology and technologies used, I believe there is a wide range of therapeutic applications of casual games in mood-related disorders such as depression and in stress-related disorders including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Granted, this study was a first step and much more needs to be done before video games can be prescribed to treat medical conditions. However, these exciting results confirm anecdotal evidence that people are playing casual video games to improve their mood and decrease their stress, and herald casual games' potential in health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of stress- and mood-related disorders."

Stress Relief

With respect to stress relief, measured primarily through HRV which captures sympathetic (fight or flight) and para-sympathetic (relaxation) nervous system activity by assessing the variability in the heart's "beat-to-beat" interval, Bejeweled was found to reduce physical stress activity by 54% compared to the control group. There was no statistical difference between male and female subjects. 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).

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SOURCE East Carolina University
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