Discover the next Open Days Milano · Firenze · London · Paris · Dubai Register nowDiscover the next Open Days
BACK RESEARCH

Can video games help you practise meditation and mindfulness?

A shift in perception: once defined as a distraction and a gateway to behavioural problems, gaming is now revalued as a leisure activity with potential health benefits

Tons of paper and galaxies of pixels have been consumed to represent video games as an addictive time-wasting practice serving no purpose. What if the conservative media were wrong? They were, at least partially, since gaming has finally shed its image as a distraction and launchpad for behavioural problems. It has now been rebranded as a leisure activity with potential health benefits. A form of escapism, several games take players into a new world where they can attain mental and psychological benefits by abandoning their anxieties and strengthening their concentration. 

Moreover, there has been a shift in the definition of the video gamer: now, everyone, from children to adults, is a gamer. The rise of mobile gaming is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons gaming is becoming more inclusive, with more than three in ten games now played on mobile platforms with smartphones.

Gris, a platform-adventure game by Spanish developer Nomada Studio

Gris, a platform-adventure game by Spanish developer Nomada Studio

 

Are video games good or bad for the player? They can be both

The gaming industry has recently grown tremendously, even during the Covid pandemic. There are many video games benefits, but many people have concerns about how it affects mental health. As a headline once rhetorically asked, are video games a mental health hazard for our children? That’s not just paranoia due to the real problem of gaming addiction worldwide.

Evidence shows that playing video games over a long period may have adverse health effects. There are many types of negative effects, such as violence, addiction, and obesity, that can vary from one person to the next. Even so, there are several factors to consider before anyone can jump to a conclusion.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, an open world adventure game developed by Ustwo Games

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, an open world adventure game developed by Ustwo Games

Video games involving narratives could provide an innovative medium for children and adolescents that is easy to process, engaging to follow, and fun to experience. Many video games are essentially moving narratives where the player gets to make decisions about what a character does next in the game. There is no doubt that some games have fixed narratives, but the trend is to allow players to take more control of the characters in their games and make them feel more independent and cohesive.

Eligible studies on the positive effects of video games on health have shown that Video games improve 69% of psychological therapy outcomes, 59% of physical therapy outcomes, 50% of physical activity outcomes, 42% of health education outcomes and 42% of pain distraction outcomes.

In most cases, video games have an inherent stress level attached to them. There are constantly challenging situations and environments; you often have to navigate multiple elements of surprise, physical tension, and dynamic changes while striving to improve your skills and earn more of them as you get better.

 

New gentle and cosy video games can help us practise mindfulness

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure focuses on exploring the world and conserving wildlife

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure focuses on exploring the world and conserving wildlife

‘Alba, A Wildlife Adventure’ is an awarded game where little Alba embarks on an adventure towards her grandparents’ house on a Mediterranean island. She is ready for a peaceful summer of wildlife exploration with her friend Ines, but when she sees an animal in danger, she realises she needs to do something about it.

Celeste, a 2018 platform game developed and published by indie studio Matt Makes Games. The player controls Madeline, a young woman who aims to climb Celeste Mountain

Celeste, a 2018 platform game developed and published by indie studio Matt Makes Games

‘Celeste’ is another awarded game where people need to help Madeline survive her inner demons on her journey to the top of Celeste Mountain, get brave in hundreds of hand-crafted challenges, uncover devious secrets, and piece together the mystery of the mountain. 

Gris, a platform-adventure game by Spanish developer Nomada Studio

Gris, a platform-adventure game by Spanish developer Nomada Studio

Again, ‘Gris’ is an award-winning game where the character is lost in her world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through grief is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see things differently, revealing new paths to explore using her newly acquired skills.

Istituto Marangoni Visual Design student Manami Galliker's degree project

Istituto Marangoni Visual Design student Manami Galliker's degree project

We cannot fail to mention ‘Hana’ by Istituto Marangoni Milano Visual Design student Manami Galliker. A mobile phone and computer app, Hana creates a quiet virtual space as a kind of metaverse to take refuge in when people need a break from the real world. Entering this video game allows visitors to build their own garden, meditate or listen to soft music. However, the uniqueness of Manami Galliker’s work lies in how it draws a new, different path for the future of the metaverse, as reported by Stefania Valenti, Managing Director of Istituto Marangoni, in her speech at the first Metaverse X Luxury Symposium in Milan.  

To conclude, gaming can incorporate mindfulness practices because, at its core, mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment and being fully engaged in whatever you are doing. By immersing yourself in gameplay as a ‘narrative,’ you can practice mindfulness. Incorporating mindfulness into gaming can help reduce stress and anxiety by providing an outlet for mental and emotional relaxation. By being fully in the moment, you can tune out distractions and negative thoughts, allowing yourself to experience a greater sense of calm and focus, virtual yet deeply “immersive” and, therefore, effective.

 

 

Jessica Crisalida Beltré Santos
Master Program in Digital Art Direction
School
MILANO DESIGN
Course
Programme
postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses