There The materials that were available were studies

There are many studies, books
and articles on how games in varying forms (from board games to video games to
virtual reality games) affect people, but none were found on whether games help
adults improve their life satisfaction by enabling them to discover clarity in
their goals and life ideals. The materials that were available were studies in
three main categories: 1) Studies about how games help improve adults’ mental
health and emotional states; 2) Studies on how children need to play in order
to learn well; 3) Studies on how games can help brain injuries and brain
health.

The studies that would have
been of particular interest to our client were any on how games might help adults
to elevate their quality of life via enabling them to learn mindsets or ways of
thinking that benefit the player’s quality of life. Thus, only the first
categories had strong relevance to our clients’ objectives and therefore the
other two categories will not be addressed at length.

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 Category 1: How Games Help Improve Adults’
Mental Health and Emotional State

Of the few studies we did
find relevant to this first topic category, many were limited in their
conclusiveness due to factors such as flawed methodology, low response rates or
high drop-out rates, sampling errors and unintentional and intentional
respondent errors. These factors are outlined in detail below.

One of these few studies,
conducted through University of Pennsylvania, tested Jane McGonigal’s
smartphone game, SuperBetter©, a game supposed to help adults reduce or move
out of depression (Roepke, 2013). It was conducted via randomized controlled
test in online surveys (Roepke, 2013). This methodology in itself poses a
problem as online mediums will inherently favor people who use online systems
and devices which are still commonly younger people and educated people and may
also favor other demographics, weighting the sample unevenly. In this case, a
sampling error did occur: the respondents were primarily white females, 40
years old on average, recruited through the websites “Authentic Happiness”
affiliated with University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center and
craigslist.com. This is not a sample that can be extrapolated across the
general population and therefore does not offer much conclusive evidence that
playing the SuperBetter© game actually helps people in any way.
And given that many might have been recruited through the U of Penn Positive
Psychology site (we are not provided the exact numbers here), participants were
likely to have come into the study biased to expect positive results
(alleviation of their self-reported symptoms of depression), therefore causing
an unintentional respondent error because they would likely self-report results
more positively than otherwise and possibly even cause a placebo affect in
themselves because of their beliefs in benefits from the game.

Another flaw with this study
was that it relied solely on self-reported data from the respondents, meaning
that actual respondent behaviours, symptoms etc. could not be verified. Also,
there were a significant number of respondents that did not fully participate
in the programming, causing the researchers to theorize that the ratings for
the version of the game that was based on cognitive behavioural therapy were
low due to the lack of respondent participation.

Of the sources on Jane
McGonigal’s SuperBetter© website, one of them also addressed the concept of
play (in this case the author called it “leisure” defining as one of the
contexts that compose human lives, like “work” or “home”) may be a key
contributor to adult happiness and health if it is done in the spirit of
“harmonious passion” versus “obsessive passion”, the idea being that the former
provides healthy stimulation and fun while the latter produces addiction-like
symptoms as the people experiencing the leisure activity in this way have a
hard time stopping the activity and it takes over their daily life (Stenseng,
2009). Again, the studies supporting these theories were self-reporting in
nature, done through surveys and provide minimal insight towards our client’s
objectives. Further research would be needed to understand whether there is
conclusive evidence to suggest play as a direct form of improving adult health
(both mental and physical).

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