Digital games have gained a lot of popularity among young people and adults in the last decade. In the world economy, in some segments of the industry, annual revenues reached $ 1.9 trillion in 2017. All this popularization happened thanks to the technological advance and the greater accessibility of digital games on various platforms such as smartphones and computers, not limiting access to video game consoles only. Thus, digital games began to gain other applicability besides leisure, such as gametherapy, which helps in the treatment of some diseases and motor and psychological dysfunctions. This association between treatment and entertainment using digital games, inserting the individual into a virtual reality environment, can be applied in various areas of health, such as psychology and rehabilitation. Therefore, neuroscience plays an important role in researching the application and development of digital games for each purpose.
In the field of rehabilitation, gametherapy has been widely used to restore lost motor activities due to some pathology or trauma in the neuromuscular system. Studies with consoles that have motion-sensing controls and physical activity games such as the Nintendo Wii, for example, have shown that Parkinson's disease patients after 60 days undergoing a game protocol had greater learning and motor executive function. besides the greater stimulation of cognitive components such as decision making, divided attention, and working memory, resulting from the cognitive demands demanded by the game.
In relation to emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression, games also have important applicability. A successful example was a game created by the University of Washington Researchers called Project EVO project, which was developed to work on tablets and smartphones, is currently undergoing clinical trials to be used on patients who suffer from cognitive disorders such as damage. brain disorders, Alzheimer's disease, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and problems with depression and anxiety symptoms, for example. The tests performed showed several cognitive benefits, reducing anxiety and improving attention and mood for example. Other games developed showed that after testing 187 youths who had some anxiety or depression disorder, 44% of those who completed at least 4 of the 7 total game modules recovered. In addition to games designed solely to help treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other illnesses, casual style games are also indicated for problems of the same type in controlled hours. In addition to these applications, tools such as virtual reality glasses that design a 3-dimensional virtual environment offering greater immersion for the individual can be used for phobias desensitization, such as riding a plane for example.
The use of electroencephalography (EEG) for games is also an existing reality. Through a brain-computer interface (BCI), it is possible to control a virtual game from specific patterns of brain electrical activity captured by the EEG. Benefits of BCI games research such as games are much more approachable to people, which helps patient recruitment and offers the possibility of using more complex tasks in a controlled environment. It is evident that using games for BCI research provides a beneficial experimental environment, and on the other hand, through further advances in sensors and BCI research, the games will be enriched by innovative game-play BCIs can provide. See an application in the video below. Thus, the advancement of games research is very important to improve the techniques.
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Santos Mendes, Felipe Augusto, et al. "Motor learning, retention and transfer after virtual-reality-based training in Parkinson's disease–effect of motor and cognitive demands of games: a longitudinal, controlled clinical study." Physiotherapy 98.3 (2012): 217-223.
Fleming, Theresa M., et al. "Serious games for the treatment or prevention of depression: a systematic review." (2014).
Kerous, Bojan, Filip Skola, and Fotis Liarokapis. "EEG-based BCI and video games: a progress report." Virtual Reality 22.2 (2018): 119-135.