Using Video Games, Gametherapy Is Making Healthcare More Fun and Engaging

From Video Games That Promote Mental Health to Cancer Patients Firing Radiation Rockets at Tumors, Gametherapy Is Truly Making a Difference

Sohail Merchant, MD
5 min readAug 25, 2021



Playing Video Games Might Be Good for You?!?

Historically, video games have been a source of concern. They are linked to sleep deprivation, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, depression, aggression, and anxiety. In fact, a 2019 study shows that adults addicted to mobile games tend to be more depressed; they often suffer from social anxiety and loneliness.

Like anything else though, video games can be utilized in both negative and positive ways. They can be detrimental to their users. They can also be extraordinarily powerful tools. Nowadays, researchers are working to create video games that promote health by helping with various mental and physical conditions. The resulting emerging practice is known as gameplay therapy or, simply, “gametherapy.”

Gametherapy is a developmentally responsive intervention used by psychotherapists, psychologists, counselors, child therapists, medical and rehabilitation professionals, healthcare practitioners, and parents. It is designed to address real-life problems by triggering behavior or attitude changes via video games. In addition, gametherapy can create a gamified healthcare environment that interacts with patients and assists them with certain tasks.


How Gametherapy Works

Human beings are driven by rewards. Our brains are wired to celebrate even the most minor wins by releasing neurotransmitters and hormones that make us feel good. Thus, the incentive theory of motivation states that “actions are directed towards gaining rewards.” Incidentally, this is one of the reasons regular video games can be so highly addictive.

Gametherapy has been used to treat aggressiveness, agoraphobia, grief, anxiety, autism, behavior and communication disorders, clinical depression, conflict…



Sohail Merchant, MD

Medical Doctor, Blogger (, AI Researcher