Over the years, many publications have focused on the detrimental effects of video games. Researchers have extensively investigated potential connections between video games and violence. But are there any beneficial games out there for those of us who enjoy these unique forms of creative digital entertainment?
According to author and game developer, Jane McGonigal, video games have the potential to extend our lifespan! Specifically, McGonigal boasts the benefits of her video game, SuperBetter, which is heavily influenced by positive psychology and cognitive-behavioral research.
The SuperBetter website describes the purpose of the game as, “a gameful way of living to be Stronger for life,” which means that SuperBetter helps the player develop and implement “the same psychological strengths you naturally display when you play games – such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination.” McGonigal designed the game after battling her own struggle with suicidal ideation after receiving discouraging medical news during a challenging time of her life.
Overcome with depression, McGonigal resolved to explore ways to motivate herself to feel better through positive psychology and simple self-rewarding behaviors each day. Eventually, her experience led to the development of SuperBetter, which has now been validated by two clinical studies that highlight the relationship between SuperBetter and player growth. The studies specifically indicated that SuperBetter “significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety” and “improves mood, decreases anxiety and suffering, and strengthens family relationships during rehabilitation and recovery.”
Despite the plethora of sources touting a biased, polarized negative relationship between video games and mental health, many have been surprised to find they can actually improve their mental health while playing some video games! One can create a free account and play SuperBetter directly on the website or download the free mobile app to test it out. For more information about SuperBetter or the background story behind McGonigal’s game, visit the SuperBetter website or listen to McGonigal’s TED Talk from 2012.