Instead of Freaking Out, Try Geeking Out

Playing video games can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve mood

Typically, people view video games as a fun time sink. They’re entertaining, but not necessarily beneficial, unless they’re designed to be educational, right? Guess again. In fact, video game innovators have gone a step beyond entertainment and education by producing games that have been shown to contribute to improved health. Shining stars in this health-related arena are games designed specifically for cancer patients. Simply by playing them, you might experience better health. Sweet, right?  

Take for example, video game Remission2®, by HopeLab—a California-based research and development company focused on harnessing the power and appeal of technology to improve human health and well-being. Remission2 is a free-to-play collection of six different online games. In the games, you are inside the human body to toss, blast and eat cancer cells, using weapons like chemotherapy, medication and the body’s natural defenses. The games, which were designed with adolescent patients in mind, are actually being used to help increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment. Studies show that patients who played the games responded better to chemotherapy, and had a much better understanding of the treatment process on the whole.  

While Remission2 was intended primarily for young adults with cancer, the benefits of gaming in general, extend to people of all ages. Playing video games can improve mood, reduce stress and even help to combat anxiety and depression. In fact, some studies have shown that veterans of the armed services who game, suffer fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as flashbacks of traumatic events.  

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or down, try popping your favorite game into the Playstation® and giving it a play through. The benefits of gaming can be both instantaneous and long-term. Gaming helps to take your mind off your worries and scientific research shows that people who game regularly, typically are better able to handle stress.  

Guilds and squads and teammates (oh my!)  

Some gamers opt for online games to help manage anxiety and to socialize with friends. Gaming online gives you the chance to be a part of a community and hang out with others. If you can’t leave the house or just feel like having a day in, you can hop onto your computer and meet up with your guild mates in World of Warcraft®. Run a few raids together for better chances at that sweet, sweet loot!  

Or maybe you’d rather go the more traditional route of the free-to-play Words With Friends™ --a popular, mobile word game that’s like scrabble for your mobile device or computer. Whatever your preferences may be, mobile gaming is a quick, fun way to socialize without a lot of effort.  

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Content is supported by evidence-based research. To view sources, click here.
Bonsall, M., Geddes, J., Holmes, E., Hoppitt, L., James, E., Milton, A., & Tunbridge, E. (2015). Computer game play reduces intrusive memories of experimental trauma via reconsolidation-update mechanisms. Psychological Science.  doi:10.1177/0956797615583071.  

Parks, J., O’Brien, K., Russoniello, C. (2009). The effectiveness of casual video games in improving mood and decreasing stress. Journal of Cyber Therapy and Rehabilitation, 2(1), 53-66.  

Re-Mission 2 Fact Sheet. Retrieved from, February 11, 2016.
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