That was quite an impressive read. It's not often under all the pressure of "anti-gaming intellectuals" banging all the negative aspects of the world on computer games, to find a positive article about how gaming can be beneficial, especially one written in this length and detail. I really liked that. Nice work.
I have to agree on the wonders of video games as analgesia after a rather painful motorbike accident I shattered my femur and broke my knee.
In hospital with nothing to do the pain was constant and just bearable, out of hospital with a copy of FF12 that I'd been meaning to get back into the pain was a constant dull rumble, true there are the effects of the injury healing and so causing less pain. But several operations later I can confirm each time some good hard RPG grinding of FPS fragging has always taken most of my pains away.
Also gaming helped me off my pain killer addiction after said accident, I ran out of drugs and decided to go cold turkey, I was so bad at work I was sent home till I felt better, a few hundred rounds of BF2 and I was off the pills and my agression/frustration/irratability was back to its normal simmering self.
Now Im in for another operation in march so a few weeks of work and another JRPG and I'll be sorted.
This article explains why I find Child's Play [http://www.childsplaycharity.org/] to be such a great idea. Hospital stays can be miserable for kids, especially when in pain, and distractants like the games Child's Play provides go a long way to helping kids cope with a very alien experience.
To those fearing this will lead to an addiction, it's far better to get hooked on games than on painkillers.
I agree with Anton, Child's Play is a great charity. Through out this article I kept thinking of this charity and how I should say something about it, it was a pity I got beaten to it.
As this is the Escapist, an article about playing video games to escape from pain and suffering seems like a very well suited article.
I wonder if the effectiveness of video-game pain treatment differs from game to game and maybe one day it would possible to create a game that will completely remove the feeling of pain, at least for a short while? More research should be done on this topic.
When my teeth got smashed out last year, I had a grueling 8 hours to wait before the dentist opened. I couldn't sleep, so I ended up playing (and beating) Mass Effect all night. It was definitely preferable to lying in bed wondering whether I would ever be able to eat steak again.
I think one thing that is absolutely critical to the concept of using immersion in a videogame to battle pain, is the word "immersion". The videogame absolutely MUST grab the attention of the player and keep them immersed adequately enough to provide a beneficial effect. For example, a game like Snow World (as shown above) wouldn't do me any good at all. I think the patient's natural interests would need to be carefully considered in deciding what games should be "administered" to the patient. If you give me a shallow FPS, I'd lose interest and return to my painful reality fairly quickly. On the other hand, if you give me a well made FPS with online multiplayer (ie. COD4) or an excellently written JRPG (ie. Persona 3/4), I'd probably forget I was in pain at all, that is, until I had to use the restroom or something, which would snap be back to reality.
The author used videogame immersion to quit smoking one week. I wonder if I could stop eating as much. If I didn't have the wife to cook for, then it's very likely that I could cut down on my fatty diet.
I got hit by a car in July and ended up breaking 2 fingers and and my left ankle. Couldn't walk for about 2 and a half months and couldn't play 360 except for geometry wars 2 because of the shoulder buttons.. Ended up playing a ridiculous amount of Pokemon pearl.
A well-researched article, for sure. Similar to the article on video games helping remedy ADHD, video games are excellent for students and early post-graduates who have less money and more free time. For working people with families and other responsibilities, however, medication still holds more promise for non-crippling afflictions.
This article reminded me of my wife's uncle, for whom the old AD&D Gold Box games were a frontline defense against his alcoholism. It also got me thinking about why my brother-in-law has been glued to his laptop since he wrecked his ankle playing softball.
I enjoyed this article. It's no surprise to any gamer that games have a much greater ability than more passive forms of entertainment to distract from the world. But while all of the research is based on physical pain, your introduction implies that this is tied with emotional pain. This grabbed my attention because I would typically view distraction as an undesirable method of dealing with emotional pain. Sure, in the short term in can help while emotions calm down, but beyond that, the only to heal emotional pain is to face it. The research doesn't say anything to confirm or contradict this because physical pain is in a completely different category.
I think it's great that research is showing the merits of games in the realm of physical pain. Hopefully it will encourage the medical community to use it as a tool. But misinterpreting the research as a treatment for emotional pain could hurt more than it helps.
An interesting article, and I certainly agree gaming can be a useful "complimentary treatment" to pain and psychological problems, perhaps on par with massage and other similar things.
I know when I was in secondary school, games where a good way to take my mind off of the loneliness I felt being the fatter, nerdier one who actually liked to learn things (a cardinal sin in British schools these days), and doesn't like alocohol (another sin in England in general these days).
Games keep me sane, and I have noticed that their is an effect of distraction when under the weather (i.e. colds seem to bug me less, flu felt less strong, etc). It should be noted that game addiction is a factor to watch for, but as you said, compared to drug-addictions, its not on the same scale at all.
From my own personal experience, two things generally help me out greatly when I am very angry, frustrated, or generally foul on my outlook on my 'issues' (whether they be job related, relationship, injury, etc.)
The gym and gaming.
The gym has been a real stress reliever. Nothing beats lifting mad weights when your addrenaline is high due to 'issues'.
Now when it comes to gaming....I've lost many a hour in WoW or CoH in my ability to tune-out the real world. For that period of time, I tend to forget my 'problems' with people in my life, work, family, etc.
While the problem may still exist when I return from my digital exploits, it somehow seems somewhat diminished and maybe 'not as' bad as it was earlier.