Video Games to Relax – The New York Times

Take a deep breath. Hold it for five seconds. Exhale. Breathe in for three seconds. Repeat. How does that feel? A little better? Good. We’re living in stressful times, and any moment of calm is welcome.

Video games don’t have a reputation for offering tranquility. People tend to think of them as more likely to give a stress-addled adult a headache than lead them into a zen state of relaxation. But reputations can be deceiving. When developers simplify the controls, and weave in beautiful music and relaxing visuals, video games can open up spaces for peace and focus, like silent retreats on a screen. They can rest your mind by letting you occupy a new world and reshaping the way you think.

Although the neuroscience of video gaming is not conclusive, there may be evidence that the benefits are not (pardon the phrase) just in your head. Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California, Irvine developed Tenacity, a game with the goal of increasing mindfulness. In a small study published in the journal Nature last December, they found that, over the course of several weeks, the game could subtly increase connectivity