Can I Play Some More? Promoting Adolescent Well-being Through Engaging Video Games

Project Lead Category Project status
Marlou Poppelaars Resilience Writing Dissertation

Commercial video games may offer a cheap and readily available way to help us understand in what way video games can be used to promote adolescent well-being. Excellent targets for this are games that involve social interaction, encourage both positive and negative emotions and are identified by youth themselves as potentially beneficial. By letting youth play several commercial video games in different settings, we can learn how games interact with well-being in both short and long-term.

Project team


During adolescence there is a sharp increase in mental health issues (e.g. depression). Video games may be used to train skills and knowledge to improve adolescent well-being, as video games engage adolescents and have been shown to train a range of skills. The project aims to examine mechanisms in potentially beneficial commercial video games that are effective in promoting mental health. These mechanisms may then inform the development of video games that specifically aim to promote well-being or target specific mental health issues. Moreover, in this project we look at non-specific factors (e.g. contextualization) that may promote or hinder the effectiveness and/or appeal of mental health games. Finally, with the use of facial emotion detection during video game play and in-game behavior we aim to understand social interaction within cooperative video games and the motivational and emotional consequences of this interactivity.


Of 15-20 year olds had elevated scores on two depression scales


Played more than 1 hour of the intervention game at home


Of suitcases did not survive transporting project game materials


Results are being written up for publication. In this study 244 youth between the ages of 15 and 20 years participated. Of these participants 87.7% completed all 5 assessments of depressive symptoms including the 6-month and 12-month follow-up assessments. 


Project team

Marlou Poppelaars title=
Marlou Poppelaars

PhD Candidate passionate about psychopathology prevention, intrinsic motivation and the use of video games for this purpose. Loves to read, cook and making sure that bomb does not explode.




E-mail Marlou

Isabela Granic title=
Isabela Granic

Professor and Chair of the Developmental Psychopathology department in the Behavioural Science Institute; writer; voracious podcast consumer; mother of two upstanding little gamers


Director of GEMH Lab


E-mail Isabela

Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff title=
Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff

Assistant Professor at the Developmental Psychopathology Department, mainly interested in general processes and principles of clinical change; mother of two wild boys.


Assistant Professor


E-mail Anna

Adam Lobel title=
Adam Lobel

User Research Analyst at Ubisoft Montréal. My favorite games tell emotionally rich stories and challenge me to think differently


User Research Analyst


E-mail Adam

Want to keep up-to-date with our research?