Lauren Weiner | Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design | Mathematics Science and Technology

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Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design

In the Department of Mathematics, Science & Technology

Video Games, Health, and Well-Being

Lauren Weiner, M.A. Instructional Technology and Media

Many people have played video games for enjoyment. Video games can, however, be utilized for many other benefits pertaining to health and well-being. Treating and managing health problems may feel daunting, but video games can serve therapeutic purposes and lead people to happier and more fulfilling lives. Some games are particularly efficient in helping people with anxiety, depression, drug addictions, and mental disorders cope, recuperate, and reduce harm and abuse. Self-management health games also improve attitudes and beliefs about health concerns by increasing motivation, providing social support and resources for prevention, managing harmful behaviors, and breaking unhealthy habits in an engaging and empowering manner. Particular design elements of video games such as facilitation of habit formation may make it easier and more enjoyable for people to manage their health problems, and research from psychology in the field of health education can help create games that incite positive behavioral change. The emphasis of this paper is not to focus on video games as solely fun distractors for entertainment purposes, but as serious games to improve health and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to synthesize the research from psychology and health with the exploration of video games in health and of video games in general, and shape understandings of what makes effective health games. Crucial to an understanding of these games is evaluating existing video games that have specifically aimed to change health behavior. This paper is written in the hopes that research may continue to guide game designers in creating effective games for health.

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