Video Games Have Significant Ability to Mask Pain, Study Says
> 12/28/2007 11:22:59 AM

2007 may go down as the year that everyone started to realize that video games are not just vile tools used by the devil to lead the innocent astray, but that indeed video games and virtual spaces have a great deal of potential as tools of research and rehabilitation. A new avenue of study at Simon Fraser University may push the boundaries of beneficial gaming even further, as researchers have reported that gaming may provide greater pain relief than traditional pharmaceutical treatments. By immersing pain sufferers in a virtual world gaming experience, researchers were able to measure pain experience and measure it against more conventional treatments. Several trials have found that video games provide a more effective escape from the pain.

As Emory psychologist Nadine Kaslow explained to CBS News, this research is not so much embarking on radical new paths as it is updating previously understood concepts with new technologies.

"[Playing video games] can serve to distract you and give you a sense of control and some positive reinforcement," she explained.

"We know that one of the best ways to help pain is through distraction, and so when your mind is somewhere else and you can get in another world and have some fun and feel in control and a sense of mastery, it can be very useful to you."

Video games and virtual reality will likely continue to play increasingly larger roles in our lives and in our culture. This new research again illustrates that there are many facets to this type of study that have yet to be fully explored. Universities certain appear more willing to sign off on this type of work by faculty members, and as students increasingly become more comfortable with video games as a medium, we could begin to see more creative research in this direction.

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