Casual games help disabled, survey says

Study concludes that disabled gamers play puzzles, trivia, and arcade games more often--and reap benefits such as stress relief and distraction from ailments.

Video games reportedly can help cancer patients or awaken survival genes . Now, according to a new survey, people with acute depression and Attention Deficit Disorder are benefitting from games as well.

The survey--conducted by Information Solutions Group on behalf of game creator PopCap--found that disabled gamers make up 20 percent of the casual-game audience and play more often than others, citing health benefits as the reason.

PopCap, not surprisingly, makes casual games, and thus has a vested interest in the poll results. Still, the findings are worth noting.

Bejeweled
Casual games such as Bejeweled could have physical and mental health benefits for those who classify themselves as disabled, a new survey says. PopCap

The survey questioned 13,000 users on their video game use. Of those, about 2,800 classified themselves as "disabled gamers" who had mental, physical, or developmental disabilities. The most common disabilities noted by the respondents were arthritis, acute depression, and ADD.

The survey said that 94 percent of the gamers with disabilities believed that playing casual games yielded physical or mental benefits including stress relief, elevated moods, distraction from ailments, improved concentration, and mental workouts. (Casual games are a category of software-based entertainment that includes word and puzzle games, board games, and even some classic arcade titles.)

The results also said that many disabled gamers dedicate more time to video games than other players. On average they spent more time playing games per day and played more days per week. And 10 percent of disabled gamers said their medical professionals had prescribed playing casual games as part of their treatment.

Respondents to the survey cited puzzles, trivia, and arcade video games as their favorite casual games. Card games and hidden object games made up 50 percent of the top five game categories mentioned by disabled gamers.

The link between games and health isn't new. Games such as Brain Age for the Nintendo DS, for example, specifically tout mental benefits. And researchers are studying how fitness games for the Nintendo Wii can help stroke victims recover motor skills and overcome a fear of falling after their trauma

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