Casual Video Game Play Good for Mental Health?

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According to a new study conducted by East Carolina University and underwritten by PopCap, playing casual video games may be good for mental health.

For the purpose of their research, scientists followed 60 participants who suffered from clinical depression. These subjects were asked to play three family-friendly, non-violent games -- and the changes in their symptoms and moods were measured.

As it turned out, subjects who played the casual games experienced nearly a 57 percent reduction in depression symptoms compared to people who didn’t play the games. On top of that, these same participants experienced improvements in their overall mood and nearly a 20 percent reduction in anxiety levels.

 “The results of this study clearly demonstrate the intrinsic value of certain casual games in terms of significant, positive effects on the moods and anxiety levels of people suffering from any level of depression,” said the director of ECU’s psychophysiology lab and biofeedback clinic Dr. Carmen Russoniello, in a statement.

“Given that only 25 percent of people who suffer from depression are receiving treatment, it seems prudent to make these low cost, readily accessible casual games video games available to those who need them. They should be made available at health clinics, community centers, online ‘medical sites,’ and given out by therapists as a means of intervention.”

In the study, half of the subjects played PopCap’s Bejeweled, Peggie and Bookworm Adventures. All other participants were in the control group.

This study, of course, goes a long way in contradicting previous studies that have suggested that video game play in fact increases the symptoms of depression in clinically depressed individuals.

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