Monday, February 18, 2013

Computer games can improve your mood

Computer games always had a negative correlation with my grades. Although I have never been an addict, I've had phases where I spent long hours playing Age of Empires, Counter Strike and Cricket 97. The answer to the reasons behind the phases of playing them in excess has been found by some recent research.

Bowman and Tamborini in their recent research published in the New Media and Society argue that a computer game play has the potential to intervene in noxious mood states. It is due to the fact that it is simply a more demanding task.

They use the backing of mood management theory to say that computer games are adept mood repair agents. Mood management theory posits that the consumption of messages, particularly entertaining messages, are capable of altering prevailing mood states. Selection of specific messages for consumption often regulates our mood states.

The idea of selecting media content in the interest of enhancing our mood states was proposed by Zillmann and Bryant in 1985 and extended further by Zillmann in 1988.

Mood management is based on the premise that individuals are motivated for pleasure. It states that individuals tend to arrange their environment so that good mood (commonly pleasure) is maximized or maintained, and bad mood (commonly pain) is diminished or alleviated. 

Bowman and Tamborini conducted a study that varied the levels of task demand in a computer game to test the validity of their argument. Results showed that increasing the amount of control an individual has over the environment significantly increased medium’s intervention potential. This increase in intervention potential resulted in an enhanced ability to relieve boredom and stress. But they also found that too much task demand is detrimental to mood repair.

This shows when under stress, it is good to play a computer game. Although increased complexity or a very tough stage in the game may not always help you.

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