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Most mental health apps don’t work as advertised. This one actually does—and it’s a video game

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There are things we should all do, ranging from managing our finances to reading more books. But let’s be honest: Playing video games is more fun than balancing a checkbook, and more seductive than reading Tolstoy.

That’s why Craig Ferguson, lead platforms engineer at MIT’s Affective Computing group, has combined the two ideas into a groundbreaking app called The Guardians: Unite the Realms. It’s the winner of Fast Company’s 20201 Innovation by Design award in the Wellness category.

The Guardians—available for free download on iOS and Android—is basically a Trojan horse mental health app. At first glance, it’s like any monster-collecting and leveling game you know, filled with cartoonish magical creatures you need to assemble to take down evil. However, the only way to actually advance in the game is to step out of it—and accept real-life, on-your-honor tasks to complete.

[Image: MIT Media Lab]Scientists call these tasks “behavioral activation.” Whether it’s exercise like going on a walk, or feeding your artistic side by drawing a picture, these positive experiences are proven therapy for anxiety and depression. Plus,........

© Fast Company

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