A study from Oxford University suggests playing video games can be good for one’s mental health. This study was conducted in collaboration with actual gameplay data.
The study which focused on players of video games and various gaming consoles, found that people who played more games tended to report greater wellbeing. These results casted doubt on reports which claim video games can be harmful to mental health.
The study was one of the first to be done with the aid of actual play-time data. The team at Oxford University was able to link psychological questionnaires with true records of time spent playing games.
Previous studies done focused only on self-reported time playing which weakened the correlation with reality.
“This is about bringing games into the fold of psychology research that’s not a dumpster fire,” said Andrew Przybylski, the lead researcher of the project. “This lets us explain and understand games as a leisure activity.
“It was a quest to figure out is data collected by gaming companies vaguely useful for academic and health policy research.”
It took Andrew by surprise how little data gaming companies held about their players. The study, he said, “shows that if you play four hours a day of Animal Crossing, you’re a much happier human being, but that’s only interesting because all of the other research before this is done so badly.”
“I’m very confident that if the research goes on, we will learn about the things that we think of as toxic in games,” Przybylski said, “and we will have evidence for those things as well.”
The attitude one takes to gaming can affect the impact it has mentally. Researchers hope that the study will introduce a higher standard of evidence about the concept of video game addiction or digital harm.
“You have really respected, important bodies, like the World Health Organization and the NHS, allocating attention and resources to something that there’s literally no good data on. And it’s shocking to me, the reputational risk that everyone’s taking, given the stakes. For them to turn around and be like, ‘hey, this thing that 95% of teenagers do? Yeah, that’s addictive, no, we don’t have any data,’ that makes no sense,” Przybylski said.