I've been working on this same idea and developing a tabletop RPG engine for twenty-plus years that works on this type of concept. It's my thought that by "practicing" being in dangerous situations with your friends and having to make split second decisions which could lead to drastic success or catastrophic failure, you can really assist people in trust and teamwork when confronted with similar real-world situations, and that a skilled Game Master can help his players become better people... Very interesting, I can't wait to read it thoroughly.!!!
[PAPER] A Framework for Gameplay-Based Specific Phobia Exposure Therapy
A downloadable Academic Paper
And I'm like... why not?
This is a white paper that I wrote with the findings from my MSc. research that never got published. I used my project to treat my wife's severe arachnophobia and in about 3 hours she had major improvements that last to this day.
Here's the abstract.
Abstract—Fear is inherent to all animals, in one way or another. However, when stress response is disproportionate to the input, it is considered a phobia. One of the possible treatments involves exposing the phobic to its object of fear, which has been successfully done both in vivo and in virtuo (ie. using tools as virtual and augmented reality). However, the latter often lacks interaction other than visual. In this paper, we propose a method of exposure therapy through games, utilizing both game design techniques and biofeedback devices to enhance the treatment and decrease the level of stress to which the phobic is exposed to, by creating a streamlined experience and engaging the subject. A prototype was assembled following these guidelines and tested by a subject with intense arachnophobia. The prototype’s performance was validated via both subjective tests and physiological sensors, with excellent results.
You can read about it in non-academia speak over at my blog.
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