It's a known fact that exercise can help people manage depression, but a recent has added a caveat: if that exercise is combined with 'play', the effects are significantly stronger.
Simply put: if you use video games to exercise, and that exercise features game mechanics, the impact is more powerful.
Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore studied depression amongst old people, and the impact of exercise. They used video games in this study.
One group used Wii Fit, and was focused on what the study calls 'low playfulness', meaning the group took part in more stripped back exercise with a lower focus on gaming. A second group played with Wii Sports with 'high playfulness' as a focus.
Both saw positive results from the exercise portion, but those who engaged in the 'high playfulness' group — the ones playing Wii Sports — saw a significant increase above and beyond that.
Simply put: the video game element helped old people deal with depression. Pretty cool.
Apparently results from this study could assist in the "future implementation and development of exergames that aim to improve mental health among older adults".
It's the kind of thing we've been hearing about since the launch of the original Wii — the idea of video games helping people manage the difficulties that come with age. It's a pretty powerful thing. It makes me wonder how this generation will age — what kind of technology will help us in our old age? Will the video games we take for granted help us? Or will we just be mixing stem cells with our oatmeal and living the good life forever.
I'm hoping for a mix of both.