Video Games the Focus of New Melbourne Research Center

Games designed specifically to help improve mental fitness and to help the disabled and mental health sufferers to practice life skills are being explored by the Melbourne-based Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre. YAWCRC, which opens in Melbourne today, will also examine Facebook's effects on 'social isolation in rural areas.' The center, which has $114.5 million in funding, will explore tracking technology for suggesting mental healthcare options to appeal to a variety of troubled teens suffering from the affects of disorders such as binge drinking and depression.

The center's chief executive Jane Burns said that it makes perfect sense that they take advantage of advancing technology and improved internet access to help teens.

"Phone apps and social networking have taken off and in a year's time there will be technology emerging that we will need to take stock of and work with right away," Dr. Burns said. While the center is looking at all kinds of technology, video games are one of the main interest areas for the group.

"Games give you amazing storylines and you can practice things with no real world consequences," she said. "There's evidence that if you can build up skills in the online environment they can transfer across into your offline world."

Patrick McGorry, former Australian of the Year and a prominent mental health specialist in the country, said that the medical community would be watching the center's discoveries. Around 300 researchers from the center will work with Google, Facebook and Yahoo on various projects.

Source: Adelaide Now

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