RESEARCH

Currently the research regarding video games and stress has shown mixed results. Some studies have found that video games induce stress (Hasan et al., 2013; Hasan, 2015; Ferguson et al., 2016), while others have shown that video games reduce or manage stress (Reinecke, 2009; Russoniello et al., 2009; Roy and Ferguson, 2016). We urge our readers to do their own research on the effects playing video games. Following is a sampling of suggested reading in this regard.

Video Games and Stress: How Stress Appraisals and Game Content Affect Cardiovascular and Emotion Outcomes

Although previous studies have found that video games induce stress, studies have not typically measured all salient indicators of stress responses including stress appraisals, cardiovascular indicators, and emotion outcomes. The current study used the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat (Blascovich and Tomaka, 1996) to determine if video games induce a cardiovascular stress response by comparing the effects of threat and challenge appraisals across two types of video games that have shown different cardiovascular outcomes. Participants received challenge or threat appraisal instructions, and played a fighting game (Mortal Kombat) or a puzzle game (Tetris). Study outcomes were heart rate variability, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and positive and negative emotion ratings measured before, during and after gameplay. Results indicated that threat appraisal instructions increased negative emotion ratings and decreased heart rate variability, but not blood pressure, which is an essential marker for cardiovascular stress responses. Increased blood pressure and decreased heart rate variability was associated with fighting game players when compared with the puzzle game players, indicating a cardiovascular stress response; however, fighting game players also reported higher positive emotion ratings. Based on the study findings, video games do not induce stress responses like mental stressors used in previous research, demonstrating that the interactive player experience in video gaming may have more complex effects on stress outcomes. Future research should comprehensively measure biopsychosocial stress indicators and multiple emotional states over time to fully examine the relationship between video games and stress.

Front Psychol. 2019; 10: 967.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00967

The effectiveness of casual video games in improving mood and decreasing stress

Stress related medical disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression are serious medical issues that can cause disability and death. Techniques to prevent their development and exacerbation are needed. Casual video games (CVGs) are fun, easy to play, spontaneous and are tremendously popular. In this randomized controlled study we tested the effects of CVGs on mood and stress by comparing people playing CVGs with control subjects under similar conditions. Electroencephalography (EEG) changes during game play were consistent with increased mood and corroborated findings on psychological reports. Moreover, heart rate variability (HRV) changes were consistent with autonomic nervous system relaxation or decreased physical stress. In some cases CVGs produced different brain wave, heart rate variability and psychological effects. These finding have broad implications which include the potential development of prescriptive interventions using casual video games to prevent and treat stress related medical disorders.
J. Cyber Ther. Rehabil. 2 53–66.

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