Video Game Aiding Therapy?


Since dating my boyfriend, he’s introduced me to playing video games. Currently, we are playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the Wii U, and its super fun despite me struggling with the numb chuck remote at times. It’s an activity that has made us closer, and better as a couple.

It got me thinking about how playing video games affected my emotions, thoughts, actions, etc. Since Mario Galaxy is rated E for everyone, there were no negative effects, except frustration when chasing a white bunny on an icy planet. But there has been a backlash towards video games, mainly violent ones. They are blamed for aggression in teenagers, inspirations for school shootings, lower grades, anti-social behavior. But are they as bad as they seem?


According to a paper done by Australian researchers, Guy Porter  and Vladan Starcevic, entitled Are violent video games harmful? (2007), their summary states “that although reviewed studies have suggested a correlation between video games and aggression,”… “the interpretation between exposure to combative video games and violence remains open.” They add that there could have been a pre-existing hostile disposition and the only people who chose to play them are angry individuals.

I have friends who play video games where there is plenty of bloodshed. Are they aggressive people? No. I’ve heard playing violent games is a way to release steam. I do agree that video games with high exposure of violence should be limited only to mature audiences, since young children are still developing their beliefs and moral compasses.


On the opposite spectrum, there is limited research where video games can help youth. An example is where group home residents and youth offenders played a computer game called BUSTED. It was designed to increase offenders’ awareness of consequences for action through simulation game play. The age range and detailed date diagnosis were not included, but the authors of the study reported improved cooperation in therapy process (Resnick, 1986).

The concerns for using video games in psychotherapy are the content and style they require, negative attitudes toward them, and access. Despite these concerns, there is untapped potential in video games as part of therapy. For example, sitting in front of a console and screen may give the child a safe way to vent about their problems to the therapist (Ceranoglu, 2010).

I wished I had video games when I was younger. I wasn’t allowed because my parents thought it would take me away from my schoolwork. But I think it would have benefited in that if I felt angry I would vent through a game rather than throwing a chair down the stairs, or breaking windows. Also, I could have developed stronger problem solving skills. Oh well, at least I’m catching up now.


Video Games in Psychotherapy

Are Violent Video Games Harmful?

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