There is no doubt that video games today get too much bad press, but a recent study could change some of that negative attitude towards games. The study is trying to find out if playing video games can help soldiers sleep better, and have fewer nightmares. The whole concept is that playing video games can desensitize people, and it decreases the level of harm and aggression when dreaming.
Jayne Gackenbach who conducted the survey said that soldiers who didn’t play video games had more violent dreams with senses of helplessness.
The strain of daily life for soldiers who go on patrols in active war zones as you can imagine puts untold stress on them. So she only studied mentally healthy soldiers — ones who have never had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They were then split into two groups, “high gaming” and “low gaming” based on how often they played video games. The “high gaming” soldiers played games like WoW, Call of Duty, and Red Dead Redemption, where as the “low gaming” played games only a few times a year, and mainly played casual games.
The results, while preliminary did show some success that games can have. The “high gaming” group while dreaming had less intense and found they could fight back what ever forces were threatening them. Where as the “low gaming” group had more incidents of feeling helpless against an aggressive, violent enemy. Gackenbach theorizes that playing violent games while awake may serve as a sort of “threat simulator,” a way of conditioning the mind to better cope with intense, dangerous situations.
I would see many soldiers, in combat, with PSPs or anything we could hook up to 220v electricity. When soldiers weren’t on patrol, we often had violent war games on our systems. It was weird. Like we didn’t get enough violence.
They’re taking (Playstation 3’s, XBox 360’s and other consoles) into the field and playing them all the time, And it turns out, there may be a good reason to let them do that.
While this study is not conclusive that playing video games will help soldiers cope with their daily routines and help them sleep better at night. It is a start though, and about time that video games get some good light, for actually helping people, especially soldiers since they risk their lives on a daily basis for us.
Can video games quell nightmares? [newscientist]