Developing and testing social video games for adolescent depression

Tuesday 28 November 2023, 2:30 pm
PhD student
A. Tuijnman MSc.
prof. dr. R.C.M.E. Engels (EUR), prof. dr. I. Granic, prof. dr. M. Kleinjan (UU)

Depression is common among young people and has several negative consequences. This research project focused on developing and testing applied video games with social interaction to help prevent the onset and increase of depression symptoms in adolescents. In this context, we focused on social risks and protective factors for depression. The project resulted in the development of two new applied video games (ScrollQuest and Moving Stories), thanks to a collaboration between game designers, young people, doctors, school professionals, and researchers. The research on these two video games has contributed to our understanding of the potential of video games for preventing and assessing mental health problems. This research project shows the merit of continuing to develop games for mental health to add new applications to already existing efforts to improve the well-being of young people and help them grow into resilient adults.  

Anouk Tuijnman enrolled in the Pedagogical Sciences study programme at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2008. She specialised in family, behaviour, and positive development, and obtained her Master's degree cum laude in 2012. For her Master's thesis, she researched the possibility of using the video game The Sims to teach young people social skills. After working for several years as a treatment coordinator in youth care and as a stem cell transplant coordinator, she started her PhD at Radboud University in 2015 at the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab (GEMH lab), part of the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI). She co-developed and studied two video games to detect a risk factor for depression in young adults and teach adolescents first-aid skills for addressing depression symptoms. In 2020, she joined the Trimbos Institute as a researcher on the themes of gaming, gambling, and digital balance.