Video games as therapy for the mind, body, and soul
I read an article recently on the growing use of computer and video game entertainment as a form of therapy. This school of thought argues that there are a handful of non-entertainment benefits to consuming certain types of games:
Exercise: not your fingers from pressing up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-start (think Konami code back in the days of Contra), but real exercise through devices like the Wii, which encourage rapid cardio through cleverly designed fitness games. The product is especially popular with therapists and children.
Health: Quit smoking-expert Alan Carr is launching a series of games on the Nintendo DS this fall called “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.” 10M smokers have already used his products to quit smoking.
Education: Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently announced her involvement in Our Courts, a project to teach kids about civics. There also been a growing brain fitness movement, with games like Brain Age. Brain Age and its sister titles have sold over 10M copies worldwide, indicating a huge demand for education-focused gaming.
Philanthropy: FreeRice enables individuals to contribute to ending world hunger by playing simple word games on its site, which is in partnership with the UN World Food Program.
With regards to education, we’ve posted before that gaming, especially in the context of kids, has important implications both when thinking about traditional (math, reading) and 21st-century areas (collaboration, cross-cultural learning). Exploring ways to educate kids through fun games can be very rewarding — better yet — why not have the kids design the games themselves?