"If you help someone up the hill, you get closer yourself." - Anonymous
Empathy is the ability to put oneself emotionally into another's shoes. Increasing empathy improves friendship, reduces bullying and contributes to leadership and local action. Research on empathy reveals two ways of improving it. One is to put yourself in a situation where your whole focus is on helping others. Games in which you help others out of a jam have been shown to significantly increased altruistic behavior in test subjects, at least in the short term. The second is to improve body self-awareness. Those who are more connected to the feelings, both sensory and emotional, of own bodies are also more connected to the feelings of others. Games that require sustained focus and fine motor control can improve this awareness and may thereby promote the development of this capacity.
Games That Develop EmpathyAll the games in this category involve helping others. In a 2010 study, people who played such "prosocial" games were 3 times more likely to take helpful action in real life situations than people playing a neutral game, after only 10 minutes of play.
Snail Bob, Sandman, Cyber Mice Party, RIFTIn Snail Bob, Sandman and Cyber Mice Party, you help characters reach a goal by making changes in their path. (Snail Bob is the most fun.) In RIFT, you overcome obstacles to feed a glutton. He's not very polite, but you're still helping.
Unlimited RescueIn Unlimited Rescue the player rescues helpless victims after a hurricane.
Love's ArrowIn this unique game, the goal is to cheer up lonely hearts by shooting hearts out of the sky with Cupid's Arrow.
Other Programs:Ping Pong (see Attention-Sustained Attention): Some studies tie empathy to body-awareness. Because Ping Pong develops self control (and possibly brainwave output), it increases activity in body-awareness areas of the brain (also good for insight problems).
- Empathy and Judging Otherâ€™s Pain: An fMRI Study of Alexithymia (Moriguchi et al., 2007)
- Effects of prosocal video games on prosocial behavior (Greitemeyer & Osswald, 2010)
- Does Playing Violent Video Games Induce Aggression? Empirical Evidence of a fMRI Study (Weber, Ritterfeld & Mathiak, 2006)
- The Effects of Prosocial Video Games on Prosocial Behaviors: International Evidence From Correlational, Longitudinal,and Experimental Studies (Gentile et al. 2009)
- Neural systems supporting interoceptive awareness (Critchley et al., 2004)