There are many studies, booksand articles on how games in varying forms (from board games to video games tovirtual reality games) affect people, but none were found on whether games helpadults improve their life satisfaction by enabling them to discover clarity intheir goals and life ideals. The materials that were available were studies inthree main categories: 1) Studies about how games help improve adults’ mentalhealth and emotional states; 2) Studies on how children need to play in orderto learn well; 3) Studies on how games can help brain injuries and brainhealth. The studies that would havebeen of particular interest to our client were any on how games might help adultsto elevate their quality of life via enabling them to learn mindsets or ways ofthinking that benefit the player’s quality of life. Thus, only the firstcategories had strong relevance to our clients’ objectives and therefore theother two categories will not be addressed at length. Category 1: How Games Help Improve Adults’Mental Health and Emotional StateOf the few studies we didfind relevant to this first topic category, many were limited in theirconclusiveness due to factors such as flawed methodology, low response rates orhigh drop-out rates, sampling errors and unintentional and intentionalrespondent errors.
These factors are outlined in detail below.One of these few studies,conducted through University of Pennsylvania, tested Jane McGonigal’ssmartphone game, SuperBetter©, a game supposed to help adults reduce or moveout of depression (Roepke, 2013). It was conducted via randomized controlledtest in online surveys (Roepke, 2013).
This methodology in itself poses aproblem as online mediums will inherently favor people who use online systemsand devices which are still commonly younger people and educated people and mayalso favor other demographics, weighting the sample unevenly. In this case, asampling error did occur: the respondents were primarily white females, 40years old on average, recruited through the websites “Authentic Happiness”affiliated with University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center andcraigslist.com. This is not a sample that can be extrapolated across thegeneral population and therefore does not offer much conclusive evidence thatplaying the SuperBetter© game actually helps people in any way.And given that many might have been recruited through the U of Penn PositivePsychology site (we are not provided the exact numbers here), participants werelikely to have come into the study biased to expect positive results(alleviation of their self-reported symptoms of depression), therefore causingan unintentional respondent error because they would likely self-report resultsmore positively than otherwise and possibly even cause a placebo affect inthemselves because of their beliefs in benefits from the game. Another flaw with this studywas that it relied solely on self-reported data from the respondents, meaningthat actual respondent behaviours, symptoms etc. could not be verified.
Also,there were a significant number of respondents that did not fully participatein the programming, causing the researchers to theorize that the ratings forthe version of the game that was based on cognitive behavioural therapy werelow due to the lack of respondent participation. Of the sources on JaneMcGonigal’s SuperBetter© website, one of them also addressed the concept ofplay (in this case the author called it “leisure” defining as one of thecontexts that compose human lives, like “work” or “home”) may be a keycontributor to adult happiness and health if it is done in the spirit of”harmonious passion” versus “obsessive passion”, the idea being that the formerprovides healthy stimulation and fun while the latter produces addiction-likesymptoms as the people experiencing the leisure activity in this way have ahard time stopping the activity and it takes over their daily life (Stenseng,2009). Again, the studies supporting these theories were self-reporting innature, done through surveys and provide minimal insight towards our client’sobjectives. Further research would be needed to understand whether there isconclusive evidence to suggest play as a direct form of improving adult health(both mental and physical).