If you follow gaming research at all, you’ve probably heard of Dr Jane McGonigal, a professor, gamer designer, author, and pro-gaming think tank researcher. Her work on video games as self-help is the subject of a recent New York Public Radio broadcast; she argues that specific games can be harnessed to do everything from help you lose weight (play a pattern-matching game to “monopolize your visual imagination”) to help you boost energy (solve a tough puzzler to increase dopamine levels in your brain).
But the one that caught my attention was her recommendation to play a simple game that creates the meditative or “blissful state of mind known as ‘flow'” to reduce anxiety and stress. Flow, my friends, is my favorite part of playing a healer and making the bars go up in MMOs where that’s possible. I reduce all of your activities and wounds to simple squares and go into my happy zone. And now I understand why I find that so soothing.
Sure, some folks play MMORPGs and other online games for their unpredictability and dynamism, but others just as surely log in for peace and quiet away from their real lives. If you do that — if you use MMORPGs to reduce or avoid stress — which ones do you play specifically for that purpose?