All smokers seem to want to quit, at least in some part of their minds, and it seems as though every form of media possible has picked up on this fact. From DVDs to books and audiobooks, the variety of options for people that want to stop smoking is fairly staggering.
But one area that hasn’t been fully mined by stop-smoking advocates has been the video game. Until recently, however–Allen Carr, an inventor of one of the most famous stop-smoking methods, released a video game for the Nintendo DS and iPhone, which offers smokers the chance to quit while playing a series of video games. As a recent ex-smoker, this piqued my interest. I downloaded the game to see whether stopping smoking video games could truly work.
The Stop Smoking Video Games Gameplay
The game begins by prompting the player to enter some information about himself, what you like to eat, how many cigarettes you smoke, etc. It also asks you to select a “coach,” although all of the coaches are the same, the image that the player is shown just changes. The coach reads you bits of Allen Carr’s book and introduces you to the idea that you’re a nicotine addict. Once you’ve accepted this fact, you’ve moved on to the “removing illusions” section of the game.
This section deals with the reasons for smoking and logically disproves each one with the help of a cute minigame. By “cute,” I mean incredibly irritating, as many of the games have frustrating gameplay and need to be repeated multiple times until they’re passed. Though they’re annoying, they get the point across–in most cases, your assailant is a big, animated cigarette, and the games are always constructed with a relevant moral in mind.
I was most frustrated when, after skimming some instructions at the end of the “illusions” part of the game, I accidentally indicated that I still believed nicotine gave me something–causing all of the games to start over. The actual design of this video game leaves a lot to be desired.
With that being said, I certainly didn’t want to smoke. Then again, I don’t smoke, so I realized that I needed a friend to truly test the game’s effects.
I loaned the game out to a friend of mine and visited him the next day. “Here,” he said, “this was the most annoying game I’ve ever played in my life.”
“Do you still want a cigarette?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “I just want you to get that video game out of my house.”
I didn’t think it was really that bad, but it seems to accomplish its purpose, in any case–maybe the frustration part of Allen Carr’s game, or maybe it’s a poor video game with a well-written book to back it up. In any case, the inexpensive Allen Carr’s Easy Way video game is a good idea for smokers who just can’t seem to quit, and it proves that stop smoking video games may act on a certain level that’s valuable to stop smoking advocates. Give it a try. Just don’t expect it to sit next to Call of Duty or Coin of Magic on your game shelf.
Can gaming help quit smoking?
There’s no definitive scientific consensus on the effectiveness of video games specifically designed to help people quit smoking. The effectiveness of such interventions can vary widely depending on many factors, including the design and quality of the game, the individual player’s characteristics and motivations, and other concurrent cessation efforts.
However, it’s worth noting that various digital interventions have been found to help promote behavior change in areas like physical activity and diet. Video games could offer a similar benefit for smoking cessation by providing an engaging way to educate players about the harms of smoking, teach coping strategies for cravings or withdrawal symptoms, or provide a distraction from cravings.
In general, successful quitting often involves a combination of strategies, including medication (like nicotine replacement therapy), counseling or behavioral therapies (like cognitive-behavioral therapy), social support (from friends and family or support groups), and personal motivation. A video game might serve as one component within this broader approach.
It is also important to note that while some people may find these games helpful, others may not respond as well. Individual responses will vary, as with any intervention aimed at promoting behavior change.
Have you quit smoking with a stop-smoking video game? Post in our comments section below.