Play video games to improve mood

Results suggest that video games can be used to manage negative emotions

Ians July 11, 2015
Results suggest that video games can be used to manage negative emotions. PHOTO: BIGQUESTIONSONLINE

Just around 20 minutes of video games after a hectic day at office can provide you quick stress relief, says a study.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, however, said that choosing violent games to bust stress may be problematic as they may increase aggressive outcomes.

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The study authored by assistant professor Karyn Riddle from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and two of its graduate students looked at how video games may be used to manage emotions.

The participants included 82 undergraduate communication students. Half of the participants were asked to play a frustrating video game while the other half skipped the frustrating game and went directly to the next phase of the study.

The frustrating game was designed to be nearly impossible to complete, although the participants were led to believe they should be able to go through all the levels in 10 minutes.

All the participants then played for 18 minutes either a violent or a non-violent game and then filled out a questionnaire about their emotions and feelings about the game.

The researchers found that frustrated players were motivated to progress farther in the games, which decreased their frustration and boosted feelings of competency.

This process of emotional restoration increased players' enjoyment of both games.

However, those players who highly enjoyed the violent game showed a tendency to perceive the world in a more hostile way than those who played the non-violent game.

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The results suggest that video games can be used to manage negative emotions, but doing so with violent games might be problematic.