According to a new study from the University of Oxford, playing video games may be beneficial for your mental health. In this new collaboration, university academics worked for the first time with real data from the gaming process.
Nintendo Animal Crossing and EA Plants vs. An observational study of Zombies: Battle for Neighborville players found that people who played more video games felt “better”, which made it even more questionable to think that video gaming was harmful to mental health.
Most importantly, this study was one of the first to be conducted using real-time game data. Thanks to the Internet connection of games, the Oxford University team was able to relate psychological questionnaires to the time spent on games. In previous studies, participants themselves said how much time they spent on video games, which, as this study showed, only slightly corresponds to reality.
“Bringing video games into the field of psychological research will help us to explain and understand games as a space activity. It was a desire to understand whether the data collected by gaming companies would be useful in academic and health research,” said Andrew Przibilski, the project’s lead researcher.
Przibilski said he was surprised at the initial stage of the project by how little data gaming companies had about their players – it was also surprising how little credible data was used in previous studies to examine the potential harmful or beneficial effects of video games. This study, he said, “shows that if you play Animal Crossing four hours a day, you will be a happier person, although this is interesting only because all the research done so far has been done very poorly.”
The researchers also note that these findings do not provide a free ticket to gaming:
“I am confident that if the research continues, we will learn more about what we think is toxic in games and we will have evidence on that as well,” Przibilski said.
The study looked at just two games that cater to users of all ages, and other game modes may be potentially less useful. Similarly, the mood with which a player approaches the game can have an impact on his or her mental impact. Research distinguishes between “internal” fun – a game just because it is fun – and “external” fun, which is more dangerous behavior, for example, when you are forced to play, be it by other players or by the game mechanics themselves.
Researchers hope that this study will set a higher standard of evidence for the discussion of the concept of video game addiction or digital harm in general.
“There are reputable, important organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the NHS, that are devoting their attention and resources to something they don’t really have data on. “Yes, he does. Yes, he is addicted. No, we do not have any data [to prove it] – it ‘s just absurd,” Przibilski said.