The aim of the game is simply to shoot passing spaceships. However – there is a twist. Players must wear a heart rate monitor clipped to their finger and if their heart starts beating too fast, they lose the ability to shoot the enemy.
In order to win the game, players must learn how to control their emotions.
Developers at Boston Children’s Hospital tested the game on two groups of nine to 17-year-olds with severe anger problems.
Both groups received standard anger management treatment programmes, but one group was asked to play Rage Control for 15 minutes at the end of the session.
Results show that after five sessions, the children who played the video game were better at controlling their heart rate than the children who just had the standard treatment.
The study’s lead author, Peter Ducharme, said: “While this was a pilot study, and we weren’t able to follow the kids after they were discharged, we think the game will help them control their emotions in other environments.”
Dr Simone Fox, a clinical and forensic psychologist from Royal Holloway, London said games like Rage Control help children develop a greater understanding of how their feelings affect their actions.
The video game works on a level that psychologists simply can’t reach. Many children with anger management problems don’t like to talk about how they feel. With video games, they are in comforting territory. It becomes entirely about them and their desire to win, and not about the adult asking questions.
To find out how counselling can help treat anger problems, please visit our Anger Management page.
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