Researchers at McGill University have designed a video game that they have proven to cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 17% in those who play the game. The game is called the Matrix and is intended to help train people to change their perception of social threats and boost self-esteem.
"We already knew that it was possible to design games to allow people to practice new forms of social perception, but we were surprised by the impact this had when we took the games out of the lab and into the context of people's stressful lives," said McGill psychology professor Mark Baldwin. Baldwin and his team developed a suite of video games that train players to focus on positive feedback rather than negative.
The game has players click on smiling faces that appear on screen with frowning faces as quickly as possible. In the study, 23 participants had cortisol levels measured and then played the game daily for one week. After the week, cortisol levels were measured again and found to have dropped by 17%.