The Vault

video games for health and wellness

Could playing video games be beneficial to your wellbeing?

At PAX Australia and AVCon 2015,
Jen and Jane
led panels called

"More Than A Game - Playing for Mental Health and Wellness".

At those panels, we performed live research! The dynamic was incredible and we were super humbled by the engagement of our audiences.
Hundreds of attendees responded.

Here's what they said:

Do you find that games enhance your psychological and/or emotional wellbeing?

How would you best describe the reasons why you play games?

Which games have been the most helpful for you?

Whatever the reason, it is pretty clear that people love games and they may get a psychological benefit from playing them. But is there any specific game, mechanic, or genre which seems to add benefit? Over 1000 people let us know how they felt, and the same games kept coming up again and again. Our current research project looks into why these specific franchises seem to be so much more useful to people than others. Is it the sense of achievement? The in depth narrative? The social aspects? Or something else?
Remember - you can still have your say and add to our list!

  • Mass Effect/Dragon Age

    The Mass Effect and Dragon Age series create such amazing worlds that it's so easy to forget about what's troubling me. My Commander Shepard is the strong, independent kind of woman I want to be. Bioware is very good at writing inspiring characters to help you put your problems in perspective and realize, "Hey, maybe that thing you're scared of doing isn't so bad. And if it does go poorly, it'll be fine. Life goes on."

    Sera
  • Minecraft

    Minecraft has been my main therapeutic world.

    Anon

    It's regular and stable...games are a great grounding mechanism.

    Maz
  • Final Fantasy

    Final Fantasy places you in the shoes of a hero and have huge open worlds to explore that you can spend hours in and feel like you've barely scratched the surface.

    Mike Aryman

    It gives a feeling that problems can be overcome with the same comfortable approach, as long as I keep going.

    Anon
  • Dark Souls/Demon's Souls

    Dark Souls is hard, but it desperately wants you to succeed. It kicks your arse, but only because it knows that you're better than you think and you are, and it wants to prove it. I also think there's something to be said for its world being filled top to bottom with despair, with flashes of hope. Dark Souls is panic and anxiety giving way to confidence in tight, repeatable loops. It is designed to break and rebuild you. Dark Souls is a game that punishes you for failing so much that it feels amazing when you finally do succeed. You know that you learned enough to succeed, that it was your skill that got you through.

    Dan Pearce, Developer [10 Second Ninja, Castles in the Sky]
  • League of Legends

    League of Legends was very helpful for me during my high school years because it was something I felt good at even when my grades were falling and people openly commented about the number of "weird" kids in the school whenever I passed by. Gaming helps me feel useful and important.

    Matthew

    During the recession I was unemployed for a relatively long time, and League of Legends was a lifesaver at that time. I made some good friends through it.

    Aylon Herbet

But wait, there's more!

Games are as varied as we are. Your suggestions have encompassed so many different types of play, across many generations of game and console. Everywhere you look, you can find inspiration for video games which could help you to feel a bit better, to help with social skills, or even just distract from every day stress, providing space to work through the issues of life.

Below we present a selection of the most commonly mentioned games for mental health and wellness. They are not specifically designed for that purpose and not clinically proven to have any benefit, so play responsibly!

The Vault is categorised by condition, for example, anxiety, depression, PTSD etc, and by console - to help you find the right game for you.