Video Games Lead to Healthy Behavior

People have long been criticizing the role of video games in the development of children’s physical and mental health. Because they do not involve physical activity, researchers have been expressing concern that playing video games for hours at end may be a cause of obesity and introverted personalities. However, the latest research should come as a relief to video game fans. The study has found that playing video games may actually have a positive impact on the motivation levels of the player.


Methodology of the Study

The study involved 57 participants who were asked to take part in the study involving the video game Re-Mission. This game involves the players helping Roxxi, a tiny robot find its way through the bodies of patients suffering from cancer. The goal is to travel through the body and reach targeted cancer cells. The more cancer cells each player reaches and destroys, the higher he or she scores. Not all participants were asked to play the game. Some had to play the game while other simply had to watch them play.

In the next stage, MRI scans of all the participants were taken. The results showed that compared to the participants who simply watched the game, those who played the game showed signs of enhanced activity in the positive motivation pathways of the brain. According to the scientists who conducted this study, the findings are important because they point to a likely benefit of using video games as tools for mental development.

According to the researchers, the findings may help to explore the potential for video games that could help inculcate positive behavioral traits and general health habits among the players. The circuits mentioned by the scientists are important because they play a crucial role in developing positive attitudes towards medical treatments such as antibiotics and chemotherapy.

Video Games Linked to Motivation

These circuits have been identified as the caudate, putamen and nucleus accumbens channels. In participants who played the Re-Mission game, these circuits were more active compared to participants who simply watched the game. It was also noted that the activity levels of these circuits as a result of playing the video game were even higher than their activity level when the participants were watching television. This indicates that video games might be a stronger instrument for developing positive health related attitudes among the players than television.

What are the Prospects?

The findings of this study could find widespread application in the counseling of cancer patients, especially those who are children. The cancer patients could be asked to play video games similar to Re-Mission to develop positive attitudes towards their recovery. This would motivate them to look favorably towards treatments such as chemotherapy despite the apparent discomfort that such treatments cause.

In addition to cancer patients, the video games could be equally beneficial for patients suffering from other difficult chronic diseases. As similar games are developed, it will be interesting to see how far they succeed in making their way into formal health counseling programs at hospitals. It will certainly be an important step if the results show a significant improvement in the attitudes and practices towards health in the patients.

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