A study by Dr. Bryan Raudenbush at the Wheeling Jesuit University has indicated that video games can be an effective method of distracting from pain, if not actually relieving it. Raudenbush has completed a study, called "Effects of Video Game Play on Pain Threshold and Tolerance," that examines the psychological effect of games on pain sufferers.
Six genres of games -- action, puzzle, arcade, fighting, sport, and boxing -- were used in the study, which was presented to the Society for Psychophysiological Research Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Participants played games of each type for 5 minutes for practice, then a longer 10-minute session prior to a cold pressor test. Dr. Raudenbush's findings showed that playing the games increased players' pulses, as well as their tolerance for pain.
In general, Raudenbush found that game play produced an increase in pulse as compared to the baseline condition. This increase in pulse was greatest in the action, fighting, sports, and boxing games. Pain tolerance was greatest for the sports and fighting games. The sports game produced the greatest level of anger. The action and puzzle games produced the most mental demand, the largest physical demand was associated with the boxing game, and the temporal demand was greatest in the arcade and boxing games. Performance ratings were highest in the boxing and puzzle condition, and frustration ratings were highest in the arcade and boxing conditions.
"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 Dr. Raudenbush.