The science behind the game

The first Arabic science-based game aims to promote happiness!

What it does

This game trains your mind to focus on positivities more than negativities, opportunities more than obstacles. This promotes positive emotions[1] which reduce stress, anxiety[2] and increase happiness and life satisfaction[3].

This game implements many psychological techniques designed to alleviate anxiety[4][5] fear of social situations[6][7][8], improve work performance, self-esteem and self-confidence[9] and it may improve eating habits as well[10][11]!

How it works

In short, this app can make you more positive! 

We are surrounded by countless stimuli (visual, auditory, sensory…) but our minds can’t focus on them all. So, we ignore most of them and concentrate on what we think is most important. The same way your mind ignores the voices around you right now to read these words! This phenomenon is called Cognitive Bias. Meaning that your mind is unconsciously ‘biased’ towards certain inputs more than the others.

This “cognitive bias” gets affected by our emotional state. The positive person perceives positivities more than others[12], while the anxious person notices hazards and threats more than others[13] [14] [15] [16] which makes him/her feel morse!

So, what can we do?

Studies found that some tasks (like choosing the positive pictures from a collection of negative ones) when practiced for long periods, can train the mind to concentrate on positive details in life, hence promote positivity and reduce anxiety and social phobia[17].

The app is based on many psychological techniques, mentioned below, that has been embedded in a gaming experience, with animations, levels and score. To encourage the user to continue playing to unlock new themes.

To add variety, this app contains 2 games:

  • The first game: is based on Visual Search task[18]. One positive picture among many negative ones, and the player has to notice and click the positive picture as fast as possible.
  • The second game: is based on Dot-probe task[19]. Two pictures appear for a fraction of a second, one positive and one negative, then replaced by two arrows. The player has to swipe his/her finger in the direction of the arrow that replaced the positive picture. As fast as possible.

At the middle of each level, there is a break. In which a mental exercise appears, asking the player to reflect on his/her own life.

Implemented Techniques

This application uses many psychological techniques to magnify its effect, such as:

  1. Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM)
    The aim is to train the mind to notice and respond faster to positive pictures, instead of focusing on negativities. Researchers describe this technique as “ a cognitive vaccine against depression”[20].
     
  2. Positive interventions
    In each level, there is a break contains an instruction. Which can be a mental exercise (inspired by positive psychology interventions that promote happiness and well-being[21] [22])  or a solution-focused question to increase positive emotions and self-efficacy[23] or a positive quote to enhance the positive mood[24].
    Some mental exercises can be effective in one session[25], but generally, practicing the one you like more frequently is better[26].
  3. Mere-exposure Effect
    During playing, especially in “choosing healthy food” and “choosing the positive word” themes, the positive images appear more than the negative ones. Why? Studies have shown that the more the picture repeats, the more it will be acceptable, believable or desirable by the recipient because it becomes more familiar[27]. This unconscious effect has been used in the game to increase the likability of positive stimuli, like healthy food!
  4. Collective unconscious!
     Evolutionary psychologists suggest that anxiety was beneficial for survival in primitive ages, as it drives cautiousness to notice dangers and threatening predators[28], then we inherited this characteristic over time. The anxious person considers the world a dangerous and worrying place, where he cannot be relaxed and live at ease in clear mind!

    Thus, the “jungle theme” trains the mind to focus on peaceful creatures, rather than dangerous predators, to promote a peaceful worldview and reduce anxiety.
    Remember that we don’t live in a  jungle, and feeling threatened and worry all the time is not useful or healthy in modern life[29] [30]!

 

What makes this app unique?

1. Game, not task

CBM training becomes more effective when practiced for long time, but some participants find it boring[31]. So, we designed this app to make it an entertaining gaming experience with joyful visual and auditory effects, to help you enjoy playing as long as possible. This application is an amusing game, not a dull task!

2. Variety

This app implements many techniques to enhance its effect, and it has two games to choose from, in which you will search for smiling face among the crowds, healthy food among heavy meals, peaceful creature among the forest predators…etc.

 In short, it provides renovation and diversification to encourage you playing more.

3. The artistic feature

Many creative artists around the world have worked together on this game. Music, backgrounds, format and animations were all designed to promote positive mood during playing. This atmosphere doesn’t exist in any other psychological application!

 

Time & Duration

Generally, the more you play, the more effect you gain[32]. One long session of playing, which equals 15 stages of our game, can make you calmer in a difficult situation[33]. It can be played daily for one week[34] [35] or twice weekly for one month[36] to achieve long-term results.

 You can play it before a stressful situation, such as public speaking[37], or important exam[38]. Or in your leisure time while waiting your turn at the barber shop!

Coming games:

 If this app succeeds, this will encourage us to launch series of apps that achieve different psychological goals.
So, if you like this game, please let us know your feedback in the App Store!