Skip to main content

G4H 2008: Emotion Serious Game Trainer For Stress Reduction

Via: Games For Health - Sessions at Games For Health 2008

Games for Health Session - MindHabits: The Development of an Emotion Trainer Game for Stress Reduction

Speaker: Mark Baldwin, McGill University

As stress becomes more pervasive in the modern lifestyle, people are looking for new ways to unwind. Not only that, within a fast-paced, performance-oriented society, confidence and self-esteem play a strong role in your ability to succeed.

Mind Habits is a science-based game designed to help you reduce stress and build self-confidence!

Founded on social intelligence research by Dr. Mark Baldwin at McGill University, these stress-busting, confidence-boosting games use simple, fun-to-play exercises that can help you develop and maintain a more positive state of mind.

The session will start by briefly describing the research and the thinking behind it. Some of the studies focus on the psychological principle of activation, in which bringing to mind specific patterns of thought, such as might be provided by a supportive friend, helps people be more self-accepting when under stress.

Still other studies examine the principle of association, in which leading a person to associate their own name and other self-relevant information with images of social acceptance can increase their self-esteem and reduce their feelings of aggressiveness.

There will then be a demonstration of the new MindHabits Trainer, which was awarded $1.3 Million in development funding as the winner of the Great Canadian Video Game Competition.

The Game Background

Mark Baldwin is also the author of an article in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology on how specially designed video games can help people cope with stress.

Stressful social situations affect the body through coritsol, "the stress hormone," and can be measured with a test of a subject's reaction time to pictures of different faces. A faster reaction to a frowning face suggests that the subject's attention tends to be grabbed by social threats.

The package is made up of four games divided into 100 levels of play, as well as a system for tracking players' progress.

All the games can be played online for free, but only the easiest five levels, with no results tracking. Or it can be bought for $29.95 as a game for the PC. It will play on any machine running Windows 98 or later.

Baldwin's theory of stress relief involves three psychological "triggers" — inhibition, association and activation — that develop positive thinking patterns, mostly through a gallery of 1,200 photos of people's faces.

The commercial product, based closely on the psychological research, has recently been released to millions of casual gamers via Oberon Media, and is in development for other platforms and undergoing translation into several languages for worldwide distribution.