Playing war-themed games may help soldiers to cope with nightmares and sleep better, according to a new study.
Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada, surveyed 98 military personnel without pre-diagnosed mental disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) online, and found that those who played games like Call of Duty experienced less aggression and harm when they dreamt of war.
Those who abstained from playing video games found their dreams were more violent, and filled with feelings of helplessness, reports New Scientist.
The soldiers were divided into two groups based on how often they played video games.
Those in the 'high gaming' group who played daily or several times a week tend to be drawn to more intense, immersive games like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Red Dead Redemption.
Those in the 'low gaming' group played only a few times a year, and often only gravitated toward casual games.
'High gamers' reported that their nightmares about combat were less intense, and that they often felt able to fight back against whatever forces were threatening them.
Low gamers reported more incidents of feeling helpless against an aggressive, violent enemy.
Gackenbach believes that playing violent games while awake may work as a 'threat simulator', and provides the mind to better cope with intense, dangerous situations when they arise in nightmares.
Gackenbach has presented the results at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week.