A study by researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, previously in the news
for earlier research on the same topic, shows that certain types of video games, namely sports and fighting titles, can do a lot to distract players from feeling pain. The study, called Effects of Video Game Play Types on Pain Threshold and Tolerance, will be presented at the 2006 Undergraduate Research Day in Charleston, West Virginia.
The Wheeling study compared several different genres of games in their effects on pain. Six types of games were used: action, puzzle, arcade, fighting, sports, and boxing, all varieties that encourage high attention and stimulus. (Games such as RPGs and graphical adventures were likely left out of the survey for their low-impact nature.) The game types most effective in distracting from pain, meted out by cold pressor tests after 10 minutes of each subject playing a particular game type, were the sports and fighting games.
Apart from that, the researchers also measured the emotional response to each type. Oddly, the sports games produced the most anger, as opposed to the action or fighting, while the boxing game elicited the greatest physical response. The arcade and boxing games rated highest when it came to frustration.
"These gaming distractions may be most helpful in children and young adults undergoing painful procedures or suffering from chronic pain, as these individuals comprise the largest gamer demographics," said director of undergraduate research Dr. Bryan Radenbush.
He concluded: "Physicians could possible implement this in their office to aid in distraction during a painful procedure such as injection or dental work. Video games could also be used in waiting rooms to distract patients from upcoming surgical procedures." The principle is one of the driving forces behind the annual Child's Play
drive to donate games to children's hospital wards.