Games with a Purpose: Improving mood and well-being

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Computer Science


There is a growing interest in how video games can be used to improve mood and wellbeing, as well as applications in improving depressive symptoms. Cognitive dysfunction is a symptom of Major Depressive Disorder which is neglected in traditional treatment methods, and poor executive function can cause problems for both clinical and non-clinical groups. I will be examining the potential use of video games to improve executive functioning. Past research has indicated that 5 specific mechanics might be linked to improvements across various executive function domains (Mondéjar et al, 2016). These are accurate action, timely action, pattern learning, mimic sequence and logical puzzles. Firstly, I would like to have participants play existing games known to use these mechanics across a training period, examining performance on executive function tasks (eg. Trail-making) at set points throughout the training to see if the predicted improvements can be seen. Next, the most promising mechanics will be selected, and I will create games exhibiting these mechanics in a pure form. Both clinical and non-clinical populations will then play these games and the training/testing phase will be repeated to see if executive function improvements are seen. I will also examine if there are changes in wellbeing, mood and depressive symptoms, e.g. using Beck's Depression Inventory and MHC-SF. This research would have applications both in improving the symptoms of conditions such as depression, and in designing games to improve cognitive function.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022325/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2276620 Studentship EP/S022325/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Laura Joy Helsby