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UCF Studying Health Benefits of Video Games 27

Hyppy writes "The University of Central Florida College of Medicine announced Friday that it received a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to explore how interactive digital games could be designed to improve player's health behaviors and outcomes. One study to be conducted seeks to learn if role-playing games can help keep sober alcoholics from relapsing."
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UCF Studying Health Benefits of Video Games

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  • Bob Wood Johnson? Seriously?
  • by FredFredrickson ( 1177871 ) * on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:42PM (#23673865) Homepage Journal
    For a game to be habit changing- the person playing it would NEED to know that it's trying to do that, and be willing to change. They must be willing to try to pick up the new habits the game is trying to teach.

    As far as direct health benifits- I wouldn't be surprised if they find games like GTA releive stress. I feel it's a great way to let out some steam after a bad day at work....
    • For a game to be habit changing- the person playing it would NEED to know that it's trying to do that, and be willing to change

      Those are the first two steps, aren't they?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's the opposite. To change a person habit, the player must NOT be aware of the goal of the game. It's easier to influence someone when he doesn't know you are trying to manipulate him.

      As for GTA relieving stress, I seriously doubt it. Unlike a game like Carmageddon, it is not presented as a joke. It may help someone forget about his problem while playing, but as soon as he stop playing, he'll feel as miserable as before.
    • GTA is the worst game in history, it causes more problems then it solves. Pac Man never hurt anyone.
    • Hmm i see what you mean. i like to swap my addictions for other ones all the time. Role playing games can be pretty nasty for addiction
      • Yeah seriously. If you have an addictive personality or predisposition to addiction, alot of times you replace one "drug" with another. I mean you stop drinking and play WoW, you're not as much of a danger to yourself or others, but you sure as hell aren't "better"
    • They must be willing to try to pick up the new habits the game is trying to teach.

      WTF are you talking about? Your post betrays a gross misunderstanding of addiction and the behaviors associated with it.

      In this case, you wouldn't be "teaching new habits" you'd be removing the links to the old one, which is done without the need for any real cognition. You simply put them in a situation where they would normally abuse, but can't.

      There are no "new habits" to be "picked up" only old ones to be extinguished.

  • RPGs are the easiest games to play while intoxicated, as they require little to no coordination. Maybe instead you should give the alcoholics an FPS and force them to play it until they get a top score on the server. After several hours of puking from alcohol and the FPS queasies, they'll never want to touch either again.
  • So... Wii fit?
  • Isn't this mostly just swapping one form of addiction with another? Like the many people at AA who have started smoking/smoke more after trying to quit drinking.

    Also, if you spend any amount of time on public chat channels in the average MMO, you will be well aware that one can easily combine addictions.
    • Isn't this mostly just swapping one form of addiction with another?

      Well, gaming doesn't destroy your liver or leave you intoxicated as long as you don't try to go for 40 hours without getting up. So if it is, it's a healthier addiction.

      Also, if studies could identify which elements of gameplay (if any) allowed one to break the addiction, you might be able to make a theraputic game that would have those elements but wouldn't be addictive. In other words, these researchers probably aren't just handing drun

  • I'm not studying the stuff (PoliSci here) but I've seen that the school has some really cool video game programs. The Psychology department uses flight simulators to help deal with human factors problems, and there is another project on campus with an interactive shooting range for doing something or other.
    • As an alumni and student (class of 2008, class of 2010 to come), I've done the interactive performance thing through the Burnett Honors College (honors+working on masters gets enough clout to do what you want), and it is nowhere near as interesting as you think it is. This comes from a EE-degreed software developer that plays tabletop RPGs on weekends.
    • The Psychology department uses flight simulators to help deal with human factors problems

      I worked on this program during my first undergrad degree. It was... not as exciting as you seem to think. Sorry, maybe it's changed since then (only been 8 years though...) Much more interesting was Dr. Dunn's (Mr. Dr. Dunn, not his hot wife Mrs. Dr. Dunn) SURG, the substance use research group. It was a lot of fun to work on. http://www.surgucf.org/ [surgucf.org]

  • Well of course the only good example I can think of is the physical workout you get playing DDR [the dance pad game, for those who've not seen it].

    And more recently, we've had Wii Fit, which is quite different altogether.

  • Hey, I know people who lost 50 pounds playing DDR. Of course fat people stressing their knees nonstop is stupid, it at least gave me the ability to leap over 15 year old server cases :D I seriously got strong legs now! Plus I'm only 166 pounds no matter what I eat so I love DDR. It's the best fun exercise video game ever made. It might even cure AIDS and end hunger hehehe.
  • As a UCF alum ('92), I... don't know what to say. Part of me rolls my eyes (the "eyes" part of me, probably), but part thinks that if someone wants to give them money, good on them.
  • Come on, please say I'm not the only one. Anyone else read that headline and immediately wonder why a mixed martial arts (MMA) behemoth wanted to research the health of video games? Why in the world would the UFC want to study video games and health? To give fighters a fast track to a jiu jistsu black belt through gaming? Anyone? Ok, maybe I've just been tainted by the huge influx of MMA into the forefront of my mind.

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