The future of anxiety treatment may not be pills or therapy sessions, but games on your phone.
Two researchers, one at the City University of New York’s Hunter College and the other at CUNY’s graduate center, published a study in Clinical Psychological Science this month that looks at the effects of “gamifying” psychological interventions for people prone to stress. They found that a bit of play time on a specially designed mobile app before high-pressure situations reduces stress and boosts composure when the pressure’s on.
To test this idea of “gamification,” the researchers recruited university students who scored highly on an anxiety test and had each play one of two versions of the same video game on an iPod. The game is kind of weird. Two tear drop-shaped blue genie heads appear on the screen over a grass field, one with a happy face, the other with an angry face. Both heads burrow into the ground, and the player must use a finger to trace their paths as they scurry around beneath the dirt. Points and colorful gems are awarded for quick performances.
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