The Short-Term Emotional Effects of a Brief Play Intervention

Doug Maynard, Leah Mancini, Allison Vaughn and Vania Rolon


While there have been many investigations into the impacts of games upon outcomes such as learning or aggression, there is less research upon the impact that a brief period of play can have on an adult player’s emotional states. In the current investigation, we examined changes in positive and negative emotions among college student participants who played either a cooperative or competitive version of the stacking card game Rhino Hero. Results revealed that 15 minutes playing the game resulted in an immediate increase in positive emotional states (e.g., joviality, vitality) as well as a slight decrease in negative emotions. These benefits were seen for both the cooperative and competitive versions of the game, and regardless of whether the participant played with an acquaintance (e.g., friend, roommate) or someone they did know know. Finally, those who reported that their need for play had not been met in the previous week saw the greatest boost in positive emotion from this brief play intervention.