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Computer Science Researchers at Texas A&M Design Video Game to Manage Stress


A stressed PC gamer.

A video game under development is designed to help students learn how to manage stress.

Credit: Joystiq

Texas A&M University researchers are developing a video game called Chill Out to help students learn stress management.

Three years ago, professor Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna began a stress management project called "Promoting Stress Self-Regulation with Physiological Training Games," after observing that Americans spend $150-300 billion a year on stress-induced medical issues. Gutierrez-Osuna and his students have just completed the design phase of the game, which is geared toward programming professionals.

Available on smartphones and tablets, the game records the player's respiration rate and determines current stress levels to dictate the game's difficulty. "You have to shoot balls and knock them off the ceiling before the ceiling falls, so it's very casual," Gutierrez-Osuna says. "We measure respiration. If they breathe normally, the game gets easier, if not, it gets harder, so you have to keep your breathing slow to keep the game easy, training you to breathe in high-stress situations."

Video games might be more effective than other forms of stress management, such as meditation, because they are fun by nature and do not demand self-discipline, Gutierrez-Osuna speculates.

From BioNews Texas
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