According to a new study funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, a video game designed to help teenagers learn to identify negative thoughts could be effective in treating depression. The game is called SPARX (Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts) and is structured as a multilevel fantasy realm that players navigate over a seven-week period. Researchers who assessed the effectiveness of the game in teens with mild to moderate depression found that both standard therapy and the game reduced levels of anxiety and depression by about a third. About 44 percent of teens in the SPARX group achieved remission, compared to 26 percent receiving usual care. Researcher Sally Merry, an associate professor at the University of Auckland who was involved with the study, is working to make SPARX more widely available. Merry believes that the game could help fill treatment gaps, particularly in underserved areas and among teens wary of talking with adults to get help.