A Novel Casual Video Game With Simple Mental Health and Well-Being Concepts (Match Emoji): Mixed Methods Feasibility Study.

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BACKGROUND: Adolescence is a crucial phase for early intervention and prevention of mental health problems. Casual video games are popular and have promise as a novel mechanism for reaching young people, but this potential has seldom been explored. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore the acceptability, feasibility, and possible indicators of therapeutic changes after playing a purpose-built novel casual video game (Match Emoji) with simple mental health and well-being content among young adolescents. METHODS: We conducted a single-arm, nonrandomized trial of Match Emoji with 12- to 14-year-old school students (N=45; 26 [57%] New Zealand European, 12 [26%] Māori; 7 [15%] Asian or Pacific; 27 [60%] boys, 3 [6%] non-binary). Participants were invited to play Match Emoji for 15 minutes, 2-3 times a week over 2 weeks (a total of 60 minutes). Acceptability was assessed through the frequency and duration of use (analytics analyzed at the end of the 2-week intervention period and at weeks 4 and 6) and through participant reports. The Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM), General Help-Seeking Questionnaire (GHSQ), Flourishing Scale (FS), and Revised Children's Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) were assessed at baseline and week 2 to indicate possible effects. Focus groups were held in week 4. RESULTS: Most participants (n=39, 87%) used Match Emoji for at least 60 minutes over the 2-week intervention, with 80% (36/45) continuing to play the game after the intervention period. Mean change (from baseline to 2 weeks) on each measure was 1.38 (95% CI -0.03 to 2.79; P=.06) for CAMM; 0.8 (95% CI -2.71 to 4.31; P=.64) for GHSQ; -1.09 (95% CI -2.83 to 0.66; P=.21) for FS; and -3.42 (95% CI -6.84 to -0.001; P=0.49) for RCADS. Focus group feedback suggested that Match Emoji was enjoyable and helpful. CONCLUSIONS: The casual video game with mental health content appeared to be acceptable and provided a promising indication of possible therapeutic effects. This approach is worthy of further investigation. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.2196/31588.
adolescent, anxiety, casual video games, digital mental health interventions, gaming, mental health, micro interventions, serious game, teenage, video game, youth
Pine R, Mbinta J, Te Morenga L, Fleming T. (2024). A Novel Casual Video Game With Simple Mental Health and Well-Being Concepts (Match Emoji): Mixed Methods Feasibility Study.. JMIR Serious Games. 12. 1. (pp. e46697-).