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Session Name:

Game Environments and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


In recent years, the field of virtual reality (VR) psychology has made great strides in understanding how controlled virtual environments can help aide people in recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether it's war veterans or survivors of terrorist attacks or natural disasters, PTSD is a debilitating illness with incredibly high costs both societal and personal.

Critical to VR based treatments is the ability to create rich environments that allow the therapist to control the environment and gently bring the patient face-to-face with imagery, aural, and other sensory cues that precipitate the onset of stress and anxiety caused by a traumatic event. For years traditional VR tools had been used and with them the essential promise of VR treatment for PTSD has been established. Today many practitioners in the field are turning to game-based technologies in order to improve the environments, the application frameworks for their delivery, lower-costs, and improve turnaround time as this field heads toward wider rollouts and usage.

In this session, Rizzo provides a core overview of how game-based technologies and developers are working with researchers to create a new-generation of PTSD tools for therapy. Hollander describes his team's efforts on therapy applications for Iraq war Veterans and showcases an environment that helps victims of terrorist bus bombings in a presentation entitled, "Playing Games with Painful Memories: Virtual Reality Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Middle East."

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  • GDC 2006
  • Ari Hollander
  • Firsthand Technology Inc.
  • Skip Rizzo
  • University of Southern California
  • free content
  • SGS: Serious Game Design
  • Serious Games