Researchers find that the amount of time spent playing was a small but a significant positive factor in people’s wellbeing
Playing video games can be good for the mental health of many people, new research has suggested.
The study from the team at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, focused on the players of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, as well as those playing Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville by EA.
Crucially, it included the specific data from the games developers on how long each participant had played the video games, rather than estimates.
This information was linked to a survey in which the gamers were asked how they felt about their experiences.
This comes after speaking in his first interview with a broadcaster from the UK, Professor Ugur Sahin, the co-founder of the German firm BioNTech, had said that the first vaccines for COVID-19 could be rolled out to UK patients nationwide by mid-December.
The team found that the actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s wellbeing.
The findings throw some doubt on long-held assumptions that gaming causes aggression or addiction – though researchers of the the non-peer reviewed paper admitted the study only provides a snapshot.
They also they said that a player’s subjective experiences during play might be a bigger factor for wellbeing than mere play time.
Previous research has relied mainly on self-report surveys to study the relationship between play and wellbeing.
Lead author of the study, Professor Andrew Przybylski, said: “Without objective data from games companies, those proposing advice to parents or policymakers have done so without the benefit of a robust evidence base.”
“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 wellbeing.”
“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.”
He added: “Through access to data on people’s playing time, for the first time we’ve been able to investigate the relation between actual game play behaviour and subjective wellbeing, enabling us to deliver a template for crafting high-quality evidence to support health policymakers.”
This comes after the deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Van Tam, has said that he will be encouraging his own mum to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved, as he assured the British public that safety standards would not be compromised in the face of the public health emergency.
A total of 3,274 video-game players took part in the Oxford Internet Institute study.
The research was supported by grants provided by the Huo Family Foundation, as well as the Economic and Social Research Council.
It comes amid the launch of the new Xbox consoles last week, and the PlayStation 5 which hits UK shores this Thursday.