When my husband, Jon, first got a Nintendo Wii gaming system, one of the features that I was most excited about was the ability to download old games.  Sixteen dollars later, I was the proud co-owner of both Super Mario World and Donkey Kong from the Super Nintendo gaming system of my youth.  I sat down, a relative non-gamer, and it breezed through the first few levels within an hour.  I hadn’t played those games in over ten years, but my hands seemed to remember how it was done.

Mark Baldwin of McGill University seems to know what I experienced.  He remember playing Tetris and after playing the game where you stack blocks efficiently to build a wall being compelled to reorganize his closet.  He applied what he learned in Tetris to organization in general.

Out of interest in that idea, he and his students are working on making self esteem more automatic through a series of Flash games that can be found at Self Esteem Games.  Wham!, Grow your Chi, and EyeSpy: The Matrix aim to associate positive feedback (smiling, your own name, your birthday) with earning points.  The idea behind EyeSpy: the Matrix is especially interesting to me; you look at a series of faces and identify the one positive, affirming one as quickly as possible.

Can you find the positive face?

Can you find the positive face?

The idea is that it trains your mind to look for positive feedback instead of negative.  Beginning research seems to show that playing those games increases the self esteem and lowers aggressive feelings immediately after playing on the part of the participants.

American Psychological Association (2009, January 1).  Video Games and Behavioral Modification. PsychPort. Retrieved January 3, 2009, from http://www.psycport.com/showArticle.cfm?xmlFile=bhsgml_2009_01_01_22993_1606130761-0051-KEYWORD.Missing.xml&provider=