Okay, some of you know me well enough to know that when people (usually colleagues) inquire about my spiritual practice, I often respond (and only partly in jest) “Video games.” Well, I’ve been partially vindicated!!!
In the May 5 edition of Newsweek, an article called “This is Your Brain on a Videogame” says, in part:
[T]he players felt less fatigued than before the games, less “mentally confused,” more vigorous, less angry, less depressed and less mentally tense.
The different games affected each of these to varying degrees— Bejeweled increased vigor the most, for instance, while Peggle reduced mental tension the most. EEGs hint at what caused these feelings: Peggle upped brain waves linked to a desire to engage with life, while Bejeweled reduced brain waves associated with avoiding and withdrawing, and Bookworm got brain waves in sync, a state associated with relaxation.
So, it’s possible that video games actually do some of the same things that meditation, prayer, and other spiritual practices accomplish. Of course, one has to be careful–not just any game will do. Violent, startling, and timed games can actually increase anger, reactivity, and stress.
But for those of you, who like me, use games to “zone out” and relax–the data are in. Maybe if we are intentional, careful, and mindful, playing video games actually can be a spiritual practice.