When video games are mentioned in the news, they are usually portrayed in a negative light. With connotations of violence, addiction and laziness – many parents are trying to get their children to play less video games, not more.
But could some video games actually help make people with depression feel better?
A recent report from the American Psychological Association (APA) has described the video game arena to be a ‘largely untapped’ resource that holds ‘great potential’.
Interestingly there has been a recent surge in games specifically designed to raise awareness of mental health issues and even help to treat them. One such game is called Depression Quest.
The game was created by 26-year-old Zoe Quinn from Boston, who found solace in online games when she suffered from late night panic attacks,
“Being able to jump into this digital world for a while, and not be stir crazy, was actually super helpful.”
Depression Quest is a text-based game that has been developed to depict depression. In the game, players are asked to make everyday decisions while they try to negotiate their life with depression. The game lists a set of answers for them to choose from, with the more positive options crossed out and unavailable to select.
The game has been played about 700,000 times and is set to be released to a wider audience soon. Zoe has been overwhelmed by the reaction,
“We have one player who said they backed off suicide having played the game, which I can’t even wrap my head around.”
Other games that have been developed to help those with depression include SPARX, developed in New Zealand and shown to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and MoodTune, an iPhone app that asks users to perform simple tasks to help manage their depression.
While playing on video games may prove to be a valuable tool in helping people manage their depression, developers and therapists alike admit that it is no substitution for talking to someone. If you want to find out more about depression and how counselling could help, please see our depression page.