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Video games and well-being: press start
Kowart R., Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland, 2020. 166 pp.  Type: Book (978-3-030327-69-9)
Date Reviewed: Feb 4 2021

This is an interesting book. Video games and well-being is an evangelistic work, defending the worth of video games in providing innocent pleasure along with educational, intellectual, and emotional value.

Chapter 1, “Digital Games and Well-Being: An Overview,” is a defense of video gaming with regard to personal well-being by reviewing three variations of well-being, that is, hedonic (hedonist), eudemonic (virtue à la Aristotle), and self-determination theory (SDT). The defense is supported by a plethora of references to scholarly works. The conclusion of the chapter seems to be the authors’ conviction that video games have earned a bad rap in the field of psychology by viewing gaming only in a negative light of the effects and affects of the player. The chapter is about 15 pages in length, and has a reference section of about five pages with at least 85 individual references by various contributors.

The remainder of the book consists of a series of short chapters celebrating the positive effects and affects of video gaming. Topics include identity development, persistence gained through gaming, positive emotions, overcoming cognitive dissonance, resilience, and personal growth.

The contributors all seem to want to make sure that they are taken seriously by listing several clinical studies related to video gaming (countering the legion of anecdotal negative criticisms on the pitfalls of video games). When many of us were growing up, our misspent youth was pummeled repeatedly by the dangers of “new things” that would destroy our psychological and moral nature. Such warnings were found in fear of the written word, and then movies. Next came radio, followed by television and, subsequently, computer games. (Actually, rock and roll was in there somewhere, but I’m not certain where to put it in the hierarchy!)

Whether video games will be a valuable tool in the psychological growth of 21st century youth will be determined by clinical studies and, more importantly, the test of time.

Reviewer:  James Van Speybroeck Review #: CR147180 (2105-0112)
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