When most people think of video games, they tend to associate them with poor health, and it’s easy to see why: they’re sedentary activities that many people engage in alone while on the couch. But games have the unique ability to train our brains by providing us with experiences that we could not have in life. Not only have the games been designed to help with certain ailments like ADHD and depression, but in some cases they have been clinically tested and FDA approved.
Dr. Adam Gazzaley is the co-founder and chief scientific advisor of Akili Interactive, the study behind the first FDA-approved treatment for ADHD.
“The underlying basis of the idea that video games are a positive force for improving our brains is not that complicated, but what is complicated are the details,” he says.
“How do you do it in a sophisticated way and then how do you validate it with very careful experimentation to know that the results are what you expected them to be?”
In this conversation we also discuss some of the winners of the DeepWell Digital Therapeutics Mental Health Game Jam, a competition to develop games that discuss or attempt to improve the user’s mental health. Some of these games include Inner Room by byebyesama, Bíotópico by Everyday Lemonade, and Fumble by ComfyDev. We also talk about MindPod, a virtual reality therapy to help victims of traumatic injuries regain mobility or learn to use a prosthesis.
In addition to some of the positive impacts that games can have on our health, we also discuss some of the negative ones. On the one hand, there is gambling addiction, or “gaming disorder,” as defined by the World Health Organization. Some video game developers have even designed games to take advantage of people with a predilection for gambling addiction. For example, we talked about how the recently released “Diablo: Immortal” has already surpassed $100 million in revenue within two months of its release, and the absolutely amazing investment of money or time the game has demanded of its audience
Listen: How video games are working to improve — and take advantage of — our health.
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