Videogames for Emotion Regulation: A Systematic Review

Daniela Villani, Claudia Carissoli, Stefano Triberti, Antonella Marchetti, Gabriella Gilli, Giuseppe Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Emotion regulation (ER) supports multiple individual functions and promotes mental health and wellbeing. Among the tools that may be used to help people in managing their affective states, videogames are reaching attention and are showing positive effects. Yet, little is known about their effectiveness.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the amount and quality of studies investigating the effects and modalities of the use of videogames for ER.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic literature search according to PRISMA guidelines was performed. Subsequently, according to expert advice other few studies have been added.

RESULTS: Twenty-three studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review; they can be categorized into three groups, namely (1) cross-sectional and qualitative studies, (2) experimental studies investigating the effects of videogame experience on ER and (3) ER intervention with serious games.

DISCUSSION: Discussion of the reviewed studies highlights that frequent gaming with commercial games offers more opportunities for ER improvement (related to gameplay and enjoyment of fictional properties) than limited-time experiences, such as those supported by bespoke serious games. This research area is still in its infancy and findings need to be interpreted with caution; furthermore, future reviews are encouraged to include clinical populations.

CONCLUSION: Videogames offer several opportunities for ER and a challenge for educational and psychological interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalGames for health journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Emotional Adjustment
  • Humans
  • Video Games/psychology


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