Sophisticated game design software and virtual reality technology is increasingly being used to treat soldiers and trauma victims in innovative and successful ways. But a new study may suggest that much older, simpler games may prove just as therapeutic for an entirely different class of victims:
A study presented at the British Psychology Society’s Annual Conference this week suggests flashbacks, the jarring mental images that haunt those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, can be significantly reduced by engaging in the visual-spatial tasks of video game play.
Soldiers or others who deal with the reoccurring, nightmarish memories have reported the finding anecdotally before. But the British study tested the theory, showing subjects a disturbing film to simulate trauma and then asking them to do different tasks. Those who played Tetris experienced fewer flashbacks. Scientists believe the game’s high demand on visual special skills disrupts and prevents the mental imagery of the flashbacks.
This gives “blocks that matter” a whole new meaning.