pogo.pngPogo is a site known for its free online games that has 16 million unique visitors a month, with members spending an average of 51 minutes on the site. Pogo, a part of Electronic Arts, has teamed up with Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder and CEO of the Stress Institute to convey the message to students that “playing games such as those found at Pogo.com provide needed mental breaks, reduce stress and restore the mind and body connection.”Partnered with Dr. Hall, Pogo has launched “Take 5 to Play,” which provides Pogo players with advice on achieving a balanced and healthy life while highlighting the positive stress effects from playing casual games on Pogo. The program offers:

  • “Take five for You” Stress LESS tips
  • Ask Dr. Hall : Players may submit questions to Dr. Hall about problems they encounter in their lives
  • Monthly articles
  • Pogo stress-relief game nights

This is an interesting strategy by Pogo executives. However, if Pogo really wants to prove that casual gaming reduces stress, they’re going to have to link to clinical studies as well as have the “Doctor-approved” stamp on some of the games because not all games are stress-free games.


Jeremy Liew, a partner at the venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, wrote his predictions for the consumer Internet 2008. One of his prediction is Games 2.0, of which involves an increase in the number of players that participate in casual gaming as a means to connect with friends.

While I concur with Dr. Liew’s predictions, I’d like to add that another emerging trend for the Consumer Internet 2008 is the marriage between games and health. There have been several posts on HippocraTech in regards to online games developed by insurance and independent game companies aimed at improving health.

Coupled to Dr. Liew’s predictions, I think that an untapped area is the use of casual gaming online that is connected to the mental well-being of users. While there are games such as BrainAge that offers a variety of games on the Nintendo DS to give your brain a workout, inspired by a prominent Japanese scientist, I have yet to see more casual-gaming online sites that plays upon the mental health arena.

There have been several clinical studies that have shown that frequent brain stimulation in old age reduces risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Stimulation does not have to be reading or walking, it could be playing games online, as long as these situations stimulate the mind.

The gaming industry cannot merely put a bunch of casual games online and call it “Games for Health.” A game that requires the cognitive skills of unscrambling words are different than that where a user throws a cat out of a cannon. The casual games aimed at improving mental health need to be those that stimulate the “thinking” frontal cortex.



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[Last modified: 12/08/07]

Thanks for noticing my post. Note that while I appreciate the honorific, I’m not a doctor though…

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