When it comes to the mainstream media, video games don’t often receive the most positive press. Blamed for everything from isolation and depression to school shootings, games are still very much misunderstood as an entertainment medium.
It often seems like anything that reinforces that narrative gets amplified while everything else good about it gets drowned out.
Like how Games Done Quick has raised millions of dollars for charity or how vibrant some local gaming communities can be.
So when something good comes along about video games and, more importantly, the actual act of playing them, we’re here for it.
And it looks like research is starting to point in the direction of gaming being a good thing for your mental health, the New York Post reports.
A recent study done by none other than Oxford University in the United Kingdom shows that video games could actually be quite beneficial for your mental health as a gamer.
The Oxford Internet Institute worked with large video game publishers like EA to get data on things such as play length and a gamer’s relative enjoyment of that title. Unlike previous surveys that had relied upon gamer-reported data for time spent playing, this study uses precise measurements provided by the game makers in cooperation with the OII. 2,756 players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons were surveyed along with 518 Plants vs. Zombies players across the English-speaking world including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Animal Crossing, in particular, had a curious moment at the beginning of the year. The latest installment for the Nintendo Switch was embraced like few other titles in the series. It also happened to drop right around the beginning of many global lockdowns for what that is worth.
What they found is that simply playing games had a positive impact on the person’s mental health with the time element being of negligible contribution to the overall impact of the gaming (that is people did not report playing longer and being happier doing so in any significant number).
The Oxford Internet Institute’s director Andrew Przybylski told the New York Post, “Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a persons’ well-being. In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.”
That’s pretty good news for the industry as a whole which has had one of its best years ever. While many industries have lagged because of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world economy, video games have thrived as more people embrace indoor activities.
Do you think video games are good for your mental health? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.
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