This Study Suggests That Video Games Can Benefit Your Well-Being

Oxford Study Suggests That Video Games Can Actually Benefit Your Well-being

Any proud gamers out there?

Since the pandemic began, I found myself immersed back in the world of video games given the free time I had on my hands. To some extent, I did feel a tinge of guilt on how I was shutting the negativity of the world away with made-up places that I could escape to. But then I realised that playing these video games actually brought back some good energy that I had really been needing. On top of that, now I know that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this. 

An Oxford study has recently revealed that video games actually uplift our mental state and well-being despite the stigma that video games can only be addicting and damaging. Looks like we don’t have to feel guilty about distracting ourselves with video games during a pandemic after all. 

Also read: A Japan Guide: The Ultimate Must-Visit List for Gamers & Anime Fans!

How the video game study was conducted

The study was conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute which surveyed 3,247 participants/gamers over the age of 18. As for the games that were used for the experiment? Animal Crossing New Horizons and Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville — two games that evidently resonate with both children and adults alike. 

With the cooperation of Nintendo and Electronic Arts, both of which reached out to their regular gamers to participate in the study, the researchers were able to track the amount of time the gamers spent playing the said video games combined with a survey that indicated the gamers’ mental health. 

Below are the key findings:

  • The actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s well-being.
  • A player’s subjective experiences during play might be more important in evaluating well-being than being based only on mere playtime.
  • Players who experience genuine enjoyment from playing the said games experience more positive well-being.
  • Gamers whose psychological needs weren’t being met in the ‘real world’ might report negative well-being from playing.

Along with these findings, the study also suggests that experiences of competence and social connection with other gamers may also contribute to someone’s wellbeing. Animal Crossing and Plants vs Zombies are, after all, very social video games where you have the option to play with other gamers online. 

Professor Andrew Przybylski, who was the director of the study, confirmed the positive correlation between mental health and gameplay; he also underscored the importance of lawmakers and parents being aware of such benefits. 

“Without objective data from game 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 persons’ well-being. 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 said. 

The professor has also noted how this study is a mere baby step to what could be a bigger and more impactful body of research between mental health and gaming. “This is two games out of a million […] these are social video games, and this is just a correlation. There’s a wide range of pro-social and antisocial behaviors that happen in games, and there’s a wide range of positive and negative experiences that we might be more or less likely to get into if we’re having a good or a bad day,” he added. 

Also read: How Video Games Helped Me Travel Better

Well, gamers, what do you think of this new study? It does sound comforting and reassuring. Here’s to hoping more studies about the positive effects of gaming will be conducted in the future!

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.