'Playful' Video Games Found To Increase Positivity In Elderly Depression Patients

Regular exercise is a well-known recommendation for those dealing with depression, but what impact does the playfulness of that exercise have?

One of the ways to measure this is through video games. Researchers recently took a look at "exergames" used in the healthcare of older adults, to examine whether the "playfulness" of the games may influence the antidepressant effect -- and the results are promising.

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Wii Sport games were used as the "high playfulness" condition in the experiment, with Wii Fit training considered the "low playfulness" option during a six week randomised controlled study. A "manipulation check" was conducted first to confirm the significant difference in playfulness between the two conditions.

A total of 49 community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with subthreshold depression have finished the study.

Their depression, positive emotions, and self-efficacy (belief in your ability to complete tasks) were measured both before and after the test. Since there were a number of variables in the experiment -- age and gender being the most prominent ones -- a multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) test was also conducted to ensure the results were accurate.

The results showed that both the group of older adults playing Wii Fit and the group playing Wii Sports had improvements in depression and self-efficacy.

The playfulness of the game played didn't have any increased effect on subthreshold depression and self-efficacy, but it did have a significant effect on positive emotions.

The researchers plan to use these results to change which games are used for therapy in older patients.

[Games For Health Journal]