• Serious games, gamification and serious mental illness: A scoping review

      Fitzgerald, Martin; Ratcliffe, G. (American Psychiatric Association, 2020-02-01)
      The use of serious games and gamification to promote learning has a long history. More recently, serious games and gamification have been used in clinical settings to promote treatment and recovery. Yet there is little evidence to support their use with populations that experience serious mental illness. A scoping review was used to answer the following research question, What is the current state of knowledge about how games and gamification are used to promote treatment of serious mental illness? Scoping reviews clarify, define, and develop conceptual boundaries within a topic area. Twenty studies were identified and reviewed by using thematic content analysis. A range of game types, formats, and technology were assessed. Six themes emerged from analysis. Serious games and the use of gamification to promote treatment have potential to engage persons with serious mental illness in game content and promote treatment outcomes. Game design that supported clear instruction, a coherent narrative, a smooth interface between mechanics and play, and service user involvement early in the process of game design were important for the successful promotion of engagement and learning. Games reviewed offered the opportunity for problem solving, collaboration, and goal-oriented activity that supported the delivery of therapeutic outcomes. The use of serious games and gamification to promote treatment of serious mental illness had high levels of feasibility and acceptability among both users and providers. The potential treatment value of games, however, is dependent on key features related to the games’ design, operation, and rationale.