A new study by the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, has found that video games have beneficial effects and can help a person feel happier. This study used two games, EA’s Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, but unlike other studies the publishers supplied exact data on how long the participants had played for, previous studies used guestimates by the players themselves.
“If you play Animal Crossing for four hours a day, every single day, you’re likely to say you feel significantly happier than someone who doesn’t,” said study leader Professor Andrew Przybylski, adding “That doesn’t mean Animal Crossing by itself makes you happy.”
However, many previous studies have found that extended play makes people unhappy, and those who were gaming to avoid something else stressful in their lives “had reported being less content.”
Key findings form the study include:
- Actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s wellbeing
- A player’s subjective experiences during play might be a bigger factor for wellbeing than mere play time.
- Players experiencing genuine enjoyment from the games experience more positive well-being
- Findings align with past research suggesting people whose psychological needs weren’t being met in the ‘real world’ might report negative well-being from play.
So to summarise, doing something you enjoy makes you happy, but don’t over do it. I know that sounds very glib, and we all could have stated that video games are beneficial to our mental health, but now we have an official study that backs this up and that’s great news.