A Randomized Controlled Study of the Effects of PopCap Games on Mood and Stress Carmen V. Russoniello, Ph.D, LRT, LPC, BCIAC, Jennifer M. Parks, CTRS Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic East Carolina University The study was underwritten by PopCap games Casual Game Research
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A Randomized Controlled Study of the Effects of PopCap Games on Mood and Stress
Carmen V. Russoniello, Ph.D, LRT, LPC, BCIAC,
Jennifer M. Parks, CTRS
Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic
East Carolina University
The study was underwritten by PopCap games
Results from surveys indicated that people played PopCap video games because the games reduced their stress and improved their mood.
Therapies such as board games, card games, biofeedback, meditation and massage have been useful in helping people change brain and autonomic nervous system activity from areas associated with depression and stress to areas associated with relaxation and alertness.
The purpose of the study therefore was to
determine whether PopCap games did indeed improve mood and/or decrease stress in players using psychological and physiological measures.
The Profile of Mood States or POMS is a factor analytically derived inventory that measures six subscales: tension, depression, anger, vigor, fatigue, and confusion. In addition it calculates a “Total Mood Disturbance”. Internal consistency for the POMS has been reported at .90 or above. Test re-test reliability is reported between .68 and .74 for all factors.
Physiological Measurement of Stress
Heart rate variability (HRV) provides an accurate assessment of autonomic nervous system stress based upon variability in the inter-beat interval of heart beats (Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology, 1996). A robust HRV is associated with balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).HRV was recorded during the entire session using a small ear clip sensor. HRV changes indicated by decreases in very low frequency (sympathetic) norms and high frequency (para-sympathetic) norms were used as specific indicators of stress.
HRV Device and Ear Clip Sensor
The spheres on the following slides list the mean difference and standard error after comparing 5 minutes of baseline with control or game changes. Differences between individual games and the control group are also presented with related confidence intervals. The level of confidence was set at p. <.1 due to the similarity of the control group activity to the game groups and the exploratory nature of the study.
Subjects under the age of 25 had a
significant reduction in tension
after playing Peggle (p=.09).
Subjects younger than 25 reported significant reductions in confusion after BWA (p=.04); Bejeweled (p=.002); Peggle (p=.002). Subjects older than 25 did not significantly differ.
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Carmen V. Russoniello, Ph.D., Director
Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic
East Carolina University
Belk Building Suite 2501
Greenville, NC 27858