eHealth Executive Summit

Can a Video Game Cure Depression?

What a video game created in New Zealand tells us about how to combat teen depression.

According to a study by the British Medical Journal, a video game could be a leading treatment for teenage depression. At The Atlantic’s eHealth Executive Summit this month, David Burt of LinkedWellness gave a presentation on SPARX, a depression-fighting video game from the University of Auckland.

SPARX uses methods of positive reinforcement and challenge completion in order to treat depression in young adults - and so far, it’s done so to great effect. In the cited British Medical Journal study, 44 percent of the test subjects who played SPARX were no longer depressed after playing it, compared to the 26 percent of test subjects who saw a therapist instead.

Both the New Zealand and Australian governments are making a real investment in SPARX, spending over seventeen million dollars in an attempt to reduce depression in teens. Meanwhile, LinkedWellness has licensed the game in the US and distribution plans are underway. Could teenagers be seeing SPARX in our local GameStops soon? Burt says yes: they’re hoping to launch in August, just in time for the beginning of the school year.