New Zealand developers said they have created a video game that will help young people overcome depression.
SPARX, developed by the University of Auckland and Metia Interactive, is a role-playing game designed to teach teenagers how to cope with depression.
“You can deal with mental health problems in a way that doesn’t have to be deadly serious,” said project leader Sally Merry in an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail. “The therapy doesn’t have to be depressing in and of itself. We’re aiming to make it fun.”
The game, aimed at 13 to 17-year-olds, allows players to choose a warrior avatar and defeat the “darkness” by completing puzzles and challenges. Players can learn skills useful for relieving frustration such as conflict resolution and breathing relaxation.
Due to the nature of the game, developers have minimized potentially violent aspects of the play. Instead of slashing and shooting as in typical action games, the characters in the game shoot lightning bolts to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
The developers said the test trials conducted with a group of teenagers over a 14-month development period had proven to be as successful as traditional counseling. The results were published in the British Medical Journal last month.
While expressing confidence about SPARX’s healing effect, Merry added it was not meant to be a replacement for existing mental health care services.
“It’s not going to fix everyone ... I'm trying to find a way of doing things that is much more engaging.” she said.,” she said.
The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation
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