Apart from being a source of entertainment, video gaming can also have a positive influence on your mental health. At least, that’s what a new study from Oxford University has found, in which the researchers used actual gameplay data to analyze players’ wellbeing.
The research, which analyzed data from more than 3,200 players of Nintendo’s successful “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and EA’s third-person shooter “Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville”, found that people who played more games reported feeling happier, casting doubt on previous beliefs that video games can be harmful to one’s mental health.
But, of course, the study had its limitations. Since it was limited to only two games, the researchers didn’t explicitly conclude that increased playtime was the main factor behind participants experiencing better mental health.
“Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a person’s well-being,” said the study’s lead author, Andrew Przybylski. “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.”
The study marked a breakthrough in video game research as it was the first time game developers have shared their own data with academics to investigate the impact of gaming. And the authors underlined that further collaborations will be essential to explore in more detail the relationship between improved wellbeing and playing video games.
“We are optimistic that collaborations of this sort will deliver the evidence required to advance our understanding of human play and provide policymakers the insights into how they might shape, for good or ill, our health,” they said.