Although video games typically conjure up images of recluses secluded in their dark basements, new findings are discounting these assumptions and realizing the benefits gaming can have for those on the autism spectrum. Neuroscientists and gaming technology experts have collaborated and developed a counterintuitive creation: a video game called Brainville designed to increase the social skills of those with Asperger’s and other social cognition disorders. This gaming experience provides these socially limited individuals with a safe and stress free virtual world for them to practice common interactions, like job interviews, going to school, and skills needed for socialization. Benefits the participants receive by playing the game are already being reported, namely rising scores in psychological tests and increased abilities to recognize what others were feeling.

This Huffington Post article provides a brief overview of the researchers’ findings. It explains what the game aims to do, provides examples of the benefits found, and has quotes from autistic participants who tout the game’s positive impact. These aspects of the article support my hypothesis that those with autism can find help and social practice within the virtual realm.

The lead researcher/creator of the project, Carl Lutz, tells of the game and the team’s findings through his own perspective. We are given his background and impressive credentials, providing some validation for what he says.

I will cite this source to give a deeper understanding of what autism is, and how deeply it inhibits social skills and causes anxiety in those afflicted. Providing the science of what goes on in the mind of someone with autism will show that video games give them respite from their real world pressures that the disorder causes.

This article provides additional examples of various games used as therapy for autism. It also contains multiple references to studies that involved gaming and autism. I can look these up for additional information as needed.

The storytelling and life-like aspects of the game are supported in this article. In Brainville, the players act out scenarios that follow linear paths. The research in this article explains how games can allow autistic children to utilize the important “theory of mind” ability.

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1 Response to Proposal+5—abcdefg577

  1. abcdefg577 says:

    1. Video games, although generally played alone, are not an antisocial endeavor. The Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas have partnered with video game developers to create a counterintuitive creation: a video game designed specifically to aid the social and empathy skills of those on the autism spectrum. The benefits of this new mental health technology are becoming apparent. Players can create their own avatar and interact in virtual simulations of real-world experiences that they may have difficulty navigating, like job interviews and going to class. Although it seems questionable to prescribe video games to autistic sufferers, researchers and the autistic players alike have found benefits this game has to offer. Those with autism achieved improved scores on psychologically based social tests and displays of enhanced social skills.

    2. Psychologists may start prescribing video games to those afflicted with autism. Researchers and video game developers collaborated at The Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas and created a game designed as therapy for those on the autism spectrum to utilize. They purport that this creation provides the patients with a safe environment to develop their social skills. However, indulging in video games as therapy for autism is not a viable solution. Nothing beats real world experience, and telling those suffering from the disorder that they can become better by sitting alone and controlling an avatar on a screen makes little sense. Encouraging those with autism to go out, meet people, and practice becoming better at socializing in actual environments is authentic and will prevent them from treating their game as a crutch. A Pediatrics Magazine study found that autistic individuals are more likely to become addicted to video games than those without the disorder. Prescribing these people an abstract, unreal and addictive treatment method is a very frightening idea.


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