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Because they are engaging and motivational on their own, a Canadian professor is convinced that videogames can eventually be a reliable means to improve a player’s mental health.

Dr. Mark Baldwin of Montreal’s McGill University is a leader in this fledgling field, having already released a PC game in 1997 [URL=http://www.mindhabits.com/index.php]called MindHabits Trainer[/URL]. It’s claimed that spending only five minutes a day with the title can improve confidence and reduce stress in participants.

Baldwin [URL=http://www2.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/story.html?id=2410981]told Canada.com[/URL] that while there is certainly room for advances in this field, there may be a ceiling in terms of how much a player can be affected. He doesn’t think, for example, that such a trainer would ever be able to convince someone that they are a good person, but that improving abilities like learning how to ignore criticism should be possible.

One level from the MindHabits Trainer has players trying to find a single smiling face among a sea of those with frowns. Baldwin explained what these types of game mechanics can do for a player:

[INDENT]It's just like Pavlov's dog. This boosts self-esteem, makes people feel a little less aggressive in response to insults. It's a long way from being a therapy of any kind; these things are games and little laboratory tasks. But someday I think there's going to be some use for this as a part of some kind of psychological intervention.

[/INDENT]The release of games such as Brain Age and the Wii Fit in the past few years has furthered Baldwin’s optimism for what the coming years might bring:

[INDENT]In terms of where the future goes, that's what makes me hopeful that the application idea is growing and the line between them will get blurred and you'll see more of these positive efforts being integrated with entertainment-type games.



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