New Study Shows The Mental Health Benefits Of Gaming

By Ben Hamill - December 20 2020
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New Study Shows The Mental Health Benefits Of Gaming

Playing video games – so suggests a ground-breaking Oxford University study – can be good for mental health. The breakthrough study, which focused primarily on Nintendo’s Animal Crossing and EA’s Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, saw researchers for the first time ever base their findings on the outcomes of having worked with actual play-time data.

What the study found was that people who played more video games than what would be considered the average median, reported greater levels of “well-being” than those who either hardly played or not at all. This obviously casts further doubt on historical reports claiming video gaming to be a threat and even potentially harmful to mental health.

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Based On Facts And Actual Data

The study is considered a breakthrough in its particular field of research. Thanks to the majority of games now being streamed from the internet, including the two focus games selected for the purposes of the study, researchers were for the first time ever able to track actual and accurate records of the time users spent playing games, while linking directly with those records the results of a series of psychological questionnaires.

What had turned previous studies essentially biased – flawed even – was a reliance on self-reporting of the time spent playing by the players themselves. Researchers mostly considered the amount of playing time reported by users to have been – at best – only semi-correlated with reality. What this means for the field of gaming psychology is a proper understanding of video games within the context of a recognised activity of leisure, said lead researcher Andrew Przybylski at the time of the publication of the study’s findings.

Much More Can Be Learned

Przybylski was however quick to point out that the outcome of the study should in no way be regarded a free pass for whiling away one’s days and available hours playing only video games. A balanced lifestyle is still regarded the best recipe for a long, happy, and mentally healthy life.

What had surprised the research team probably most of all, said the research lead, was the lack of insight video games makers seemed to have into the actual gaming habits of their customers (players). This, along with how very little actual hard undisputable data had been utilised by previous studies into video games and the connection to mental health, emerged quite the sobering realisation, said Przybylski.

Przybylski also added that if this type of research were to continue in a more in-depth way in future, a great deal more insight can be accumulated regarding the finer nuances of the relationship between video games and general feelings of wellness. 

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