Mind and body exercise in the forms of meditation, yoga, running and more are known practices to help us focus in our daily life. Achieving focus, like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concentrated flow state, can be difficult – especially with the thousands of technological distractions of today. Video games, a recreational technology that many would categorize in the “distraction” group, may actually be able to increase focus rather than the other way around.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been leaders in the research of games both for education and entertainment for over a decade. They founded an initiative called Games+Learning+Society that used neuroscience to experiment and test the effect of games on the brain and human response. “GLS developers and researchers also conduct cutting-edge work that explores how video games can be used to improve learning and public participation in science,” the university says.
One game that was born out of GLS is called Tenacity. “Tenacity is a meditative app designed to promote mental well-being through breath counting…the focus is on learning practices of wellness and self-regulation,” says GLS Studios, the software company based on the original initiative. Tenacity takes the player through levels such as Greek ruins, Egyptian dunes, staircases and more, like any other game would, but employs breathing as a key strategy to play. This helps the brain focus, though the player may not be conscious of that goal. While meditation works for some, a game like Tenacity might be just what you need to regain some focus.