Snippet: Playing Tetris can decrease traumatic flashbacks.

Just a quick note on how gaming can help to heal some pain. 

Friday’s attacks on Paris and Beirut have been absolutely devastating to the world-at-large. My heart goes out to those affected by the tragedies, even though my head can’t fully process them.

I don’t have much to say to try and connect the dots between gaming and this kind of tragedy. Many games tend to use these types of events as backdrops, the introductory action that causes the plot and gameplay to unfold. Needless to say what’s happened here certainly isn’t just a backdrop or set piece, and they highlight the killings and hate circulating around the globe. I wish I had the answers on how to solve these problems, but I don’t.

Today’s post is about how gaming can help to heal wounds. While researching the Veteran’s Day post on society and perceptions of combat, I found an article with research showing that playing Tetris helps decrease flashbacks and scores on PTSD assessments. Within the first 6 hours of the event the memory is being worked into the brain, but after that six hours, reviving the memory can make it malleable again, allowing the game to be effective outside of the 6 hour window (researchers tried this 24 hours later).Working theory is that playing Tetris occupies a highly visual part of the brain, making it more difficult to cement the visual components of the trauma; subjects recalled 51% fewer memories of a traumatizing memory than those who sat in a quiet room after watching the video.

Though it’s hard to imagine pulling out a Game Boy or Nintendo 3DS as a prescription for trauma, many of us have smartphones we can use to download a free version of Tetris and play. The study says that other visually-involved games like Candy Crush Saga may work as well, but either way, a few minutes of puzzling may help to deal with a significant amount of mental pain and anguish.

Keep in mind this isn’t a recommendation to use Tetris as an exclusive form of treatment. Talking to a professional is 100% recommended when handling mental health to learn about the tools you may need to heal. Still, every bit of knowledge helps.

Pass it on, folks.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Intelligame. Lover of story-centric games of all kinds, arcade games, and mobile titles. Mac and Cheese connoisseur.

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