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Computer Games in health care?


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I've been playing computer games since the early 1980s. I have played just about every genre there is, including extremely violent first person shooters, boring adventures, and online tennis (right now I play Top Spin on my Xbox).


But playing computer games has always been sort of looked "down upon" by a lot of people. Games like Doom and family have been criticized massively for promoting violence and telling kids it's okay to maim and kill.


Yet a lot of research has shown that the picture is not so simple. After the Columbine incident, there were cries to ban just about every computer game except Tetris. While I understand that people can get afraid, there is every reason to listen to the people who actually study what effect computer games have on people, both children and adults. And studies have shown that there is no correlation between playing violent computer games and violent behaviour in kids. Some even go so far as to say that playing violent games can be good for some kids, since they vent frustration and learn to master something. I'm not saying that there aren't studies around showing the opposite, however, my point is that there are a lot of views on this.


Computer games have been used in education for a long time now. Of course, games with a pedagogical approach have more "credibility" among parents and teachers, although a lot of these games (the ones I've seen) are designed by the programmers and often look very bad, plus they are written to work on very old hardware since a lot of schools have old computers etc.


So I think it is interesting to note that computer games (Unreal Tournament!) is being used to treat claustrophobia! I found this article in Wired:


Better Health Throuh Play


It's interesting also that "...more than 100 doctors, educators, therapists and game makers are gathering in Madison, Wisconsin, this week for a first-ever Games for Health conference. " (my emphasis).


What do you think? Can computer games be a part of health treatment? Will doctors ever prescribe a daily dose of Xbox?

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