Study: Casual Video Games Demonstrate Significant Ability to Reduce Depression and Anxiety; Clinical Importance Highlighted

By Popcap Games And East Carolina University, PRNE
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First-of-Its-Kind Clinical Study by East Carolina University Establishes Efficacy of Bejeweled(R) and Other Games in Reducing Clinical Depression and Anxiety

DUBLIN, February 16, 2011 - East Carolina University's Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback
Clinic today revealed the results of a year-long randomized, controlled
clinical study that measured the efficacy of so-called "casual"
video games (CVGs) in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety
as a co-morbid condition. Nearly 60 subjects, half of whom served as
controls, all meeting the criteria of clinical depression, participated in
the study, which involved three family-friendly, non-violent puzzle games:
Bejeweled 2(R), Peggle(R) and Bookworm(R) Adventures. (All of the games are
made by PopCap Games, underwriter of the study.) The hypothesis was tested
using state-of-the-art technologies including psychophysiology, biochemical
and psychological measurements, and found an average reduction in depression
symptoms of 57% in the experimental ("video game") group. The study, the
first such research ever to measure the efficacy of video games in reducing
depression and anxiety, also found significant reduction in anxiety, as well
as improvements in all aspects of mood, among study subjects who played the
casual video games.

"The results of this study clearly demonstrate the intrinsic value of
certain casual games in terms of significant, positive effects on the moods
and anxiety levels of people suffering from any level of depression," stated
Dr. Carmen Russoniello, Director of the Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback
Clinic at ECU and the professor who oversaw the study (as well as previous
studies involving the same games' effects on stress levels). "In my opinion
the findings support the possibility of using prescribed casual video games
for treating depression and anxiety as an adjunct to, or perhaps even a
replacement for, standard therapies including medication. Remarkably, these
games had both short term (after 30 minutes of game play) and long term
(after one month) effects when compared to the control group. Equally
important, the data supports the hypothesis that casual video games contain
intrinsic qualities that, when played, provoke physiological and biochemical
changes consistent with positive changes in mood and anxiety."

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States
an estimated 20.9 million American adults (9.5% of the U.S. population age 18
or older) suffers from a mood disorder, and more than two thirds of those
(14.8 million U.S. adults) are cases of major depression. Depression is the
leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people aged 15 to 44. Depressive
disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders, and approximately 40 million
American adults (about 18 percent of all U.S. adults) have an anxiety


High-level findings of the study are provided below. Additional details,
along with findings of previous studies, are available at Results indicate that there was a 57% average
decrease in depression symptoms among participants in the experimental group
and this was statistically significant when compared to the control group.

Table 1 (available at presents clinical results for
PHQ-9 pre- and post-study for both the video game and control groups:

The video game group saw significant reductions in depression across the
board, with all seven subjects previously classified as suffering from
moderate to severe depression moving to the minor or minimal depression
categories. At the same time, the number of subjects classified as having
minor depression dropped from nine to four.

Graph 1 (available at illustrates the decrease in
depression symptoms in the casual video game group and shows how all
participants in this group shifted into the mild symptom category:

Further analyses revealed differences in the effects of the games on male
test subjects compared to female subjects, as well as differences between
younger (less than 25 years) and older (equal to or greater than 25) study
participants. Significant changes in overall mood (65% improvement on
average) and anxiety level (20% reduction in anxiety on average) were also
identified among subjects in the video game group. Even somatic, or overall
physical, symptoms, improved in the experimental group, by 36% on average.
Additional details on these and other initial findings of the study are
available at


The study hypothesis, methodology and logistical plan were developed
between July 2009 and August 2010, and the clinical state of the study was
conducted between August 2010 and November 2010 and included a total of 59
subjects. Twenty-nine participants served as controls surfing the National
Institutes of Mental Health's Web page on depression. The experimental group
consisted of 30 participants with 18 choosing to play Bejeweled 2; seven
participants choosing to play Peggle and five participants choosing to play
Bookworm Adventures (BWA). There were 30 females and 29 males in the study.
Participants ranged in age from 18 to 74 with average age calculated at 30.
Sixty-five percent of the participants were European-Americans; twenty three
percent were African Americans, 3.3% Hispanic Americans, 1.6 % Asian
Americans and 3.3% other. Sixty-three percent were gamers and 31% were not.
Twenty-three percent were on anti-depressant medications and 73 % were not.
Additional specifics of the study methodology can be found at

"Compliance was not an issue in this study with all participants meeting
minimum playing time requirements and there were no side effects reported in
the month long study. Given that only 25% of people who suffer from
depression are receiving treatment, it seems prudent to make these low cost,
readily accessible casual games video games available to those who need them.
They should be made available at health clinics, community centers, online
'medical sites' and given out by therapists as a means of intervention."

About PopCap

PopCap Games is the leading global developer, publisher and operator of
casual video games: fun, easy-to-learn, captivating games that appeal to all
ages across PC, mobile, social and other platforms. Based in Seattle,
, PopCap was founded in 2000 and has a worldwide staff of more than
400 people in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver, B.C., Dublin,
Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. PopCap's games have been downloaded over 1.5
billion times by consumers worldwide, and its flagship franchise,
Bejeweled(R), has sold more than 50 million units.

The PopCap logo and all other trademarks used herein that are
listed at are owned by PopCap Games, Inc.
or its licensors and may be registered in some countries. Other company and
product names used herein may be trademarks of their respective owners and
are used for the benefit of those owners.

    PR Contacts:
    Cathy Orr

PR Contacts: International: Cathy Orr, corr at +353-1-646-8107

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