According to the Entertainment Software Association, 70% of gamers surveyed say games could be used for medical treatment, and many see the benefits in addressing mental health and isolation.
A new survey of video game players finds that a pastime enjoyed by some 212 million Americans could be used to improve healthcare access and treatment—particularly in mental health.
The 2023 Essential Facts About the US Video Game Industry, unveiled this week by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), finds that 70% of those surveyed agree that video games can be used for medical treatment. And 90% say video games can provide stress relief and mental stimulation.
Those are good numbers for an entertainment genre that has danced along the edge of the healthcare market for many years, with companies like Akili Interactive, Level Ex, and Deepwell Digital Therapeutics offering a broad array of games aimed not only at patients but providers. Gaming technology and video and interactive games have long shown promise in addressing key pain points like engagement, chronic care management and adherence.
And they're popular. The survey estimates that 65% of Americans play video games.
“Video games remain a mainstay in American households, as they have for decades,” Stanley Pierre-Louis, president and CEO of the Washington DC-based ESA, said in a press release highlighting the survey results. "Playing video games has become the norm, as those who first learned to play on early consoles now share their joy of play with their own children and grandchildren, resulting in an expansive and diverse player community. The Essential Facts report demonstrates that video games not only connect us, but also enhance our sense of wellbeing.”
Among the results highlighted by the survey, which was distributed online in April 2023 and taken by roughly 4,000 respondents, were the effects of gaming on mental health and wellness. About 90% of those responding said video games provide mental stimulation and stress relief, while 88% said games help improve cognitive skills, 81% said they help build problem-solving skills, and 75% said they help boost collaboration skills.
They can also be used to address isolation and loneliness. Some 88% of survey respondents said games expand their social circles and 82% said they were introduced to new friends and relationships through game platforms (half of those responding said they met a good friend, spouse or significant other through games). In addition, 60% said video games help them stay connected to friends and family, and 71% reported developing a feeling of community through gaming.
Finally, while video games and gaming are most people among the younger generations, a significant number of seniors are playing them as well—and seeing specific healthcare benefits. According to the survey, 62% of adults play video games (32 is the average age of a player) and roughly three-quarters of adults play games with their children.
Healthcare leaders are interested in video games because they offer a mobile platform that allows users to access content at the time and place of their choosing. They also provide an entertaining platform to learn new ideas, along with rewards to foster engagement and metrics that would enable executives to measure progress and continued adherence.
Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.
Roughly 212 million people, or 65% of Americans, play video games, according to the ESA.
Those surveyed say video games help reduce stress, build cognitive skills, and allow them to make friends and feel a sense of community.
Several companies have staked out a niche in the healthcare arena with video games that address chronic disease management, medication adherence, and provider training, to name a few.