Weekly INT Boost – Finding Resolve

Welcome back to our roundup of the best gaming and mental health articles you may have missed. This week, we have a look at more tabletop campaign therapies, research on ‘far transfer,’ and some of the games you love.


Adolescents roll high on unique mental health-care options

“Dungeons & Dragons gives a distinct outline of how to perform actions like attack, but also demands that players navigate specific social situations. For example, when a non-player character­­— or a character controlled by the Dungeon Master— lies to one of the players’ characters, Johns said he might ask the player what behaviors, like avoiding eye contact, indicate that they are being lied to. The next time a non-player character lies to that player, the Dungeon Master might mimic those behaviors, so the player learns to read that body language.”

The Columbia Chronicle talks to some of the folks from our recent panel as well as others who offer therapy for young people in the form of tabletop roleplaying campaigns.


Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a game that helps calm my anxiety

“The game mechanics of catching fish and bugs and picking fruit reflect a kind of mindfulness mentality of being present in the moment. You also craft furniture and wait for them to be completed, which varies between a few minutes to hours and hours. The waiting encourages patience, which is kind of an anti-thesis to our instant-gratification mindset, especially when we post to social media and the likes and comments are nearly instantaneous. There’s an option to speed up the process by buying “leaf tickets,” a premium in-game currency, but there’s a certain joy in waiting.”

Animal Crossing fans are split on whether this free-to-play release is a good addition to the beloved series, but for one writer at The Verge, it’s exactly the extra-portable anxiety distraction she’s looking for.


Growing up with and growing out of The Sims

“What I wanted from The Sims had changed. With my parents’ divorce ongoing three years later, I was being bullied in school. Early signs of depression were beginning to show. I locked myself in my room and escaped to the warm familiarity. But I no longer wanted to create oddball Sims who turned into vampires at night or kept a baboon butler, and it’s almost as though Maxis knew. I wanted to make a family where the mother works her way from a dishwasher to a head chef, the father kisses her before heading off to his office job, the kids are straight-A students and at the end of the day the whole family sits down for dinner at a dining table. I wanted the stereotypical American dream-style family. I wanted something dependable.”

Another look at how the series we love grow and change — and how we grow and change beside them — in this Eurogamer memoir of mental health, life and The Sims.


The Substitute Phone is designed to help smartphone addicts cope in their absence

“Schillinger designed five facsimile phones, made of black polyoxymethylene plastic with stone beads embedded in the surface, which allows a user to replicate familiar actions, such as scrolling, pinching, or swiping. The goal is that it could be used as a coping mechanism for someone trying to check their phone less.”

Head on over to The Verge to check out an artistic piece of social commentary that would also unironically make an amazing fidget toy.


No “far transfer” – chess, memory training and music just make you better at chess, memory training and music

“Limiting the analysis to the best-designed studies, they found little or no evidence of far-transfer. The only exception was a robust effect of working memory training on other memory tasks, which is arguably “near transfer” rather than far transfer. This tallies with an in-depth evaluation of brain training published last year that concluded such training improves performance at the specific skills being practiced, but that claims about its broader benefits have little support once you discount the less stringently designed studies.”

Sorry, brain training fans, but Research Digest’s look at the research on how effectively things like memory training generalize to other parts of our lives isn’t promising. Other research indicates that specific types of brain training can be helpful for mental health issues, particularly schizophrenia, but it’s not a magic bullet by any means.


A couple notes before we go: We’re still looking for volunteers for MAGfest, January 4-7. Want us to bring our Psychomancers and the AFK Room to more shows? Become a Patron!

And with that, we’re off. We’ll be back next week with more missives from the worlds of mental health and gaming. Until then, take care of yourselves — and each other.

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