Videogames as Therapy: An Updated Selective Review of the Medical and Psychological Literature

Videogames as Therapy: An Updated Selective Review of the Medical and Psychological Literature

Mark D. Griffiths (International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK), Daria J. Kuss (International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK) and Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari (International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK & Psychology and Neuroscience of Cognition Research Unit, University of Liège, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPHIM.2017070105
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Abstract

There is a long history of using videogames in a therapeutic capacity including rehabilitation for stroke patients, people with traumatic brain injuries, burns victims, wheelchair users, Erb's palsy sufferers, children undergoing chemotherapy, children with muscular dystrophy, autistic children and individuals looking to overcome real-life challenges (including symptoms of depression) and boost their wellbeing (including boosting life satisfaction, self-efficacy and social support). This paper briefly and selectively examines a number of areas including: (1) videogames as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, (2) videogames as distractors in the role of pain management, (3) videogames and cognitive rehabilitation, (4) videogames and the development of social and communication skills among the learning disabled, (5) videogames and impulsivity/attention deficit disorders, (6) videogames and therapeutic benefits in the elderly, (7) videogames in psychotherapeutic settings, (8) videogames and health care, (9) videogames and anxiety disorders, and (10) videogames and psychological wellbeing. It is concluded that there has been considerable success when games are specifically designed to address a specific problem or to teach a certain skill. However, generalizability outside the game-playing situation remains an important consideration.
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Introduction

The most reported effects of videogames typically report the alleged negative consequences. These include videogame addiction (e.g., Griffiths, 2008a, 2008b), increased aggressiveness (e.g., Anderson & Bushman, 2001), and the various medical and psychosocial effects (Griffiths, 2005). However, there are abundant references to the positive benefits of videogames in the literature including various review papers (Griffiths, 2004; Kato, 2010; Lawrence, 1986; Rauterberg, 2004; Wiemeyer, 2010). Despite research into the more negative effects, for over 25 years, researchers have been using videogames as a means of researching individuals. Videogames may be useful in therapy in different ways including:

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