Video games as a complementary therapy tool in mental disorders: PlayMancer, a European multicentre study

J Ment Health. 2012 Aug;21(4):364-74. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2012.664302. Epub 2012 May 1.


Background: Previous review studies have suggested that computer games can serve as an alternative or additional form of treatment in several areas (schizophrenia, asthma or motor rehabilitation). Although several naturalistic studies have been conducted showing the usefulness of serious video games in the treatment of some abnormal behaviours, there is a lack of serious games specially designed for treating mental disorders.

Aim: The purpose of our project was to develop and evaluate a serious video game designed to remediate attitudinal, behavioural and emotional processes of patients with impulse-related disorders.

Method and results: The video game was created and developed within the European research project PlayMancer. It aims to prove potential capacity to change underlying attitudinal, behavioural and emotional processes of patients with impulse-related disorders. New interaction modes were provided by newly developed components, such as emotion recognition from speech, face and physiological reactions, while specific impulsive reactions were elicited. The video game uses biofeedback for helping patients to learn relaxation skills, acquire better self-control strategies and develop new emotional regulation strategies. In this article, we present a description of the video game used, rationale, user requirements, usability and preliminary data, in several mental disorders.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Bulimia Nervosa / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Gambling / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Spain
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Video Games*