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RESEARCH BLOG #7: “Games Beyond Entertainment: Applying Positive Psychology To Games”

This article reinforces what McGonigal discusses in our first reading, “Reality is Broken,” about Dr. Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology. During an interview at the “Games Beyond Entertainment” conference in Boston, Dr. Seligman confirms that video games can indeed “play a part in promoting human ‘flourishing’”(Scimeca). He breaks this flourishing down into five components: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement (PERMA). Each component has one thing in common: an individual does them for their own benefit. Each element is also “measurable, teachable, and game-able” (Scimeca). Now Seligman’s theories of positive psychology apply not only to video game design, but to socio-cultural uses as well. The U.S Army now uses these principles in their training and therapy for example. “Three years ago the Chief of Staff of the Army, George Casey, called Seligman to ask what positive psychology could do to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, drug abuse, and divorce, all of which are common issues for soldiers” (Scimeca). These soldiers were trained in PERMA principles to teach “resilience and positive psychology” (Scimeca). This training allowed soldiers to focus on the strategy of developing and practicing coping skills for the extreme and emotionally overwhelming challenges assigned to them. McGonigal, although she did mention that games could go beyond entertainment to be utilized in this fashion, I would have liked to see a more in depth explanation of how exactly major U.S institutions and government branches, and this article more clearly confirmed her major claims. Although no current games actually teach PERMA principles, Seligman hopes to change that very soon.


Scimeca, Dennis. “Games Beyond Entertainment: Applying Positive Psychology To Games.” Gamasutra. Gamasutra.com. 18 May 2011. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/124918/Games_Beyond_Entertainment_Applying_Positive_Psychology_To_Games.php&gt;



3 thoughts on “RESEARCH BLOG #7: “Games Beyond Entertainment: Applying Positive Psychology To Games”

  1. I found your article and the link very informative. I myself did not go serve time in the military but I have a number of family members who have served and I think this article will help them or maybe even someone they know. As a lot of military personnel do play video games I find it interesting that only recently are video games and the psychology behind them now being implemented in the care of the members of our armed forces.

    Posted by galaviz1 | June 25, 2013, 7:36 pm
  2. Here is where practicality gets in the way of functionality. The practice of positive psychology among soldiers currently is a good implantation of the idea. However, someone facing problems such as divorce or drug abuse due to their experiences at war is going to be under immense mental strain. Someone facing this much stress is not very likely to play a game, let alone concentrate on it enough to affect them. They might even turn to anger if such a seemingly childish suggestion is made to them. This is something I don’t think McGonigal ever discussed: getting people who are in bad places in their lives in the mood to play these games that could help them.

    Posted by sccrdude540 | June 26, 2013, 1:15 am
  3. While that may be true Sccrdude, I believe these soldiers would, when mandated into counseling, rather play a game for an hour session than be analyzed by a psychotherapist that attempts to dredge up painful experiences or feelings. By giving the soldier, or person, the reflective yet unobtrusive outlet to express themselves, they are more open; when they become more open therapy’s chance for success improves greatly. Video games are not the only therapy technique being used in psychological approaches; this also extends to art-therapy techniques and goes as far back as Rorschach ink-blot tests. In both, the person’s individuality is expressed onto a pre-existing format, and psychological conclusions can be drawn without the individual ever knowing.

    Posted by jowz24 | June 26, 2013, 8:06 am

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