Use of Computer Videogames for Psychological and Medical Purposes – I

A research and product development proposal

Use of the computer games in Psychology.

Many psychological tests are being implemented in personal computers, and some have a game-like interface. Videogame-like psychological tests are easy to implement in children and in adults with a negative attitude to conventional tests. These tests are currently applied to eye-visual coordination, manual abilities and a few other parameters, some of them related to intelligence, attitudes or values.
Games can be very addictive, and youngsters can spend too many hours in front of them. Standard videogames are not commonly used as tests, because they do not test a single parameter, but a complex set of mental and physical abilities. Videogames usually display a single score at the end of a session that reflects overall performance or completion of levels, disregarding most other parameters that could have psychological value.
A standardized data collection module , like the one proposed in this project, could transform most current games in multivariable psychological tests. These tests could acquire diagnostic value with the availability of a large data base of reference results. This data base would allow each individual to be compared with other players of similar conditions (age, sex, exposure to videogames).

Videogames as psy-tests could have three main applications:

• Parental control of computer videogames use.

– To control excessive use of videogames by kids
– To detect addictive behaviours

• Detection of disabilities

– To detect problems in logical thinking, learning, motility, coordination or concentration.
– To detect subnormal performances.

• For diagnosis and treatment of Infantile hyperactivity

– A condition where a very strong stimulus is required to grab and maintain the attention.

Adapting existing software packages for psychological testing.

A standardized data collection module could add “intelligence measuring” abilities to videogames. It would be sold to computer game companies, for inclusion in old or new products. This module will grant the label “parent controllable” or “psy test normalized” to games.

Many parents that dislike their kids spending hours at computer games would be potential buyers for labeled games. This label would add value to the products.

The games will be activated with a password supplied by the parents or a psychologist.

The module would collect some data from three sources:

• Parents, teachers or health professionals will enter:
• name and surname
• age
• psychological and medical diagnoses
• particular circumstances that affect the child at the time of the game session.

• The module will automatically record:
• time of sessions
• keystrokes
• inactivity periods.
• performance history in one and several sessions.

• The game will supply:
• completion of objectives
• logic errors
• movement errors
• lack of attention errors.

All data will be saved by the module in an encrypted file that could be easily e-mailed.