More and more games are designed to promote mental health. If these games are found to be effective, it is important to investigate which factors are responsible for the improvements in mental health. Most often, this type of research focuses on the specific clinical techniques that were designed into the game. However, from the clinical literature it is known that, for instance, expectations, motivation, and one’s mindset about the malleability of symptoms play a major role in positive intervention outcomes. In my project I aim to investigate these nonspecific factors and examine how we can manipulate these factors in order to optimize video games for mental health.
This project explores the potential of using biofeedback video games for anxiety regulation. Specifically, the projects aims to 1) develop and assessing the efficacy of the biofeedback game DEEP, a breath-based biofeedback video game, as an anxiety regulation tool and 2) identify possible determinants of change in biofeedback interventions for anxiety regulation.
Marieke van Rooij
Many children have difficulties with fearful situations and are anxious. Interventions can help to teach children to cope effectively with anxiety-inducing situations. In our project, we rigorously tested whether an intervention in the form of a video game (MindLight) is effective in significantly reducing anxiety symptoms in children 8-12 years old. We did this by comparing MindLight to 1) a commercial game and 2) the gold-standard, cognitive-behavioural therapy for anxiety (Coping Cat). Furthermore, we evaluated the motivational characteristics of MindLight and for whom (e.g., age and gender differences) it is effective.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychopathologies in children. This project investigates the effects of a biofeedback virtual reality game (DEEP) on breathing and anxiety-related symptoms in anxious children and develops new algorithms to detect changes in the player’s behavior during the game. The aim is to enable game interventions that are personalized to each individual child.
Marieke van Rooij
Smoking is one of the leading public health problems in the world. In the Netherlands today, still 1 in 4 youth between the ages of 16 and 25 smoke. Even more worrisome is that there are almost no evidence-based interventions available to help them quit smoking. That’s why we, in collaboration with scientists, game designers and smoking youth, developed and tested a game to help youth quit smoking. HitnRun is a mobile game in which you can train your impulse control, and in which you collaborate in teams, support each other’s quit attempts, and compete against other teams.