Players will need to keep their heart rates in check if they want to succeed.
If you’ve been playing games for any reasonable length of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve directed anger at a character or situation on the screen. This in and of itself isn’t exactly odd, and I myself have been known to toss a controller across the room in a fit of despair. But now researchers are using video games to help control anger in teens and preteens by letting their heart rates control the on-screen action.
The game – called Rage Control – is a simple space shooter that requires the participant to wear a heart rate monitor attached to their finger, kind of like the now-infamous Wii Vitality Sensor. When the player’s heart rate is within a normal range, the ship can be controlled easily, but when the heart rate goes up due to anger, the ship cannot fire at enemies.
This mechanic might sound like it would cause even more anger, but the study showed that it actually helped the players control their rage. After just five sessions with the game, the players showed noticeable improvements over anger management patients who had not been given the treatment.
The researchers are now moving on to create toys for younger children who are too young to benefit from the game, to see if the same principles can be applied.