Over 100,000 Ontario students report symptoms of a video
TORONTO, October 22, 2014 – Fighting
fire with fire, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Problem
Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) today launched Soul Crush Story, a video
game designed to be an engaging way for educators to deliver health promotion
messages related to video gaming to a generation of gamers.
Today’s video games are getting more
difficult for people to stop playing. That’s intentional. Many of them
incorporate ‘hooks’ that include advertising, inducements to spend money,
violence and simulated gambling. Using
the new CAMH PGIO game Soul Crush Story, teachers, health educators, social
workers and other helping professionals can build awareness of some of the ways
in which games manipulate the user’s behaviour, while encouraging an open
dialogue about healthy levels of video gaming.
Problematic video gaming is an emerging
public health issue. CAMH’s recent
OSDUHS Mental Health and Well-Being Report revealed 10 per cent of Ontario middle and high
school students (an estimated 105,600) report symptoms of a video gaming
problem such as preoccupation, loss of control, withdrawal, disregard for
consequences and disruption of family or school. Males are four times as likely
as females to have a video gaming problem (17 per cent vs. 4 per cent).
“There are physical, behavioural and mental
health signs that video gaming may be a problem,” says Lisa Pont, a PGIO
therapist who specializes in training and counselling in the area of gaming,
gambling and Internet overuse. “Excessive preoccupation, sleep difficulties,
poor eating habits and decreased interest in school can signal there may be a
The PGIO surveyed 43 problem gambling
treatment agencies across Ontario
where excessive video gaming was also identified as a concern within their
communities. Soul Crush Story was developed to fill a need for
research-informed resources to help address these concerns.
The PGIO worked closely with Algoma Games
for Health, an Ontario-based game development studio, to develop and design the
video game. In Soul Crush Story when the player tries to make a move in the
game, an exaggerated “consequence” of the move takes place. In the final
chapter of the game, players are presented with typical life-choice scenarios that
allow them to make healthy or harmful choices with regards to video
gaming. The dramatic name ‘Soul Crush
Story’ was chosen to draw attention to potential negative impacts of video
Soul Crush Story is designed to be a fun way
educators can encourage youth to make healthy choices around their video game
play. “Setting priorities, turning off devices and taking part in sports or
socializing with friends face-to-face are just a few ways to balance video
gaming and overall health,” says Lisa Pont.
There is no cost to use the game and
facilitator manual, and it can be accessed on ProblemGambling.ca
from any computer with an internet connection. The project was funded by the Ontario
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Video Game Link:
Media contact: Kate Richards, Media
Relations, CAMH at (416) 595-6015; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario at the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health brings treatment professionals and leading researchers together
with experts in communicating and sharing knowledge. Our focus is on collaboratively
developing, modeling and sharing evidence-based solutions to gambling related
problems, within Ontario
and around the world.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and
addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centres in this field.
CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and
addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with
the University of
Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.