SPARX is a video game that has been shown to be very promising when dealing with depressive symptoms. The study surrounded their resources among students in NZ who were dealing with depressive symptoms. The randomly controlled study featured a great sample and also some great results.
Here are some facts about the game:
- SPARX is computerized cognitive behavioral therapy intervention developed in New Zealand
- Smart, Postive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts (SPARX)
- Developed for youth ages 12-19 in combatting depression
- Two different groups, 1 received therapy and the other the video game
- Treatment was for about 4-7 weeks
- Multiple levels in the game that surrounded core skills to work with in depression
- Here is a video on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgocT0YyV8M
- Depressive symptoms did go down in both groups, but the individuals playing SPARX had lower levels of depression by the end of the study than the individuals that were in therapy
Some drawbacks to the study:
- Only viable in New Zealand
- Only tested on youth and not adults
- Only one measure was used to identify the beginning population
- Design of the study does not allow for spontaenous results to be documented
- The study only used CBT and not other methods of therapy that are available
Some Food For Thought:
Therapy has been proven through numerous studies that success is dependent on a relationship with a therapist and research has shown that this is the primary element in recovering from life difficulties.
Playing video games allows an interaction with the main character, the one you are playing, which in other studies has been shown to be a projection of the actual player playing the game (at least during the 1st run through of the game).
Does this mean that individuals who play some types of video games evolve a better relationship with themselves due to this projection? They can see what they look like using an observer role which is internally different than experiencing it alone. They are technically immersing themselves in a first person experience and also a third person experience at the same time. Thoughts?
See what you think for yourself! http://sparx.org.nz/
The one thing I did not like about the research was that it was suggested at the end that mass producing video games on this level would be cheaper and easier to work with people. I personally believe that this is just skill building that may not be transferable to other areas of development. I am a little biased I will not lie 🙂