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Creating Video Games for Bonding

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This week in the clinic, one of the wonderful medical assistants was saying how she was looking forward to getting home that night for the weekly extended family dinner and video game night — primarily Mario Kart. Generally, there are about ten adults and kids that converge, and given that only six people can play the video game at a time, the person who loses a round has to give up the controller. She said they all spend a lot of time laughing. They also have a dinner together where they have lively conversations.

I just listened to a podcast from The Ted Radio Hour titled Press Play that is a great one to share with teens (it does have some heavy topics). The show talks about the research on play and how important it is. It describes how play acts as a social glue — and looks at video games.

One study cited is about the fact that when a person is put in a room with another person they do not know, stress levels go up for the two people. Researchers found that the cooperative aspect of the video game Rock Band, requiring people to work together to get a good score, helped them bond with each other quickly and reduce the stress of being with a new person. Now I admit, I did not read this study, so I do not know what happened in the control group — i.e., I would think that after 15 minutes of just being in a room with someone, by then the stress would go back down to baseline even without a video game… but I digress. 

There is no doubt lots of fun energy and bonding can happen over video games. They can even inspire people to make changes to improve their lives.  CLICK TO KEEP READING

-Delaney Ruston, MD
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