Playing video games can be good for your mental health, study finds

“We found a small correlation between play and well-being,” summarized the authors of the Oxford study. (Photo: 123RF)

Playing video games can be good for your mental health, say researchers at the University of Oxford in a study published on Monday based on the games “Animal Crossing” (Nintendo), one of the most popular in the world, and on “Plants vs Zombies” (Electronic Arts).

“Contrary to widespread fears that too much time spent gambling leads to addiction and affected mental health, we found a small correlation between gambling and well-being,” the study authors summarized.

“Our results support the idea that online games offer a satisfactory alternative to face-to-face meetings during this exceptional period” of confinement, one of the study’s authors, Matti Vuorre, told AFP.

Video games, especially online games, are regularly accused of affecting the mental health of gamers, and previous studies have criticized the effect of too long gaming sessions on younger people.

Since 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized video game addiction as a mental illness, a “decision criticized by many researchers” according to Vuorre.

To explain this difference in conclusion, the Oxford researchers point to the use of game time data provided by the developers, where previous studies were based on self-assessments of the people surveyed.

“In our study, the association between actual playing time and well-being was stronger” than by comparing with reported playing time, they explain.

Working with game publishers EA and Nintendo, “for the first time, we were able to question the relationship between the way you play and the well-being,” said another author of the study, Professor Andrew Przybylski, in A press release.

Thus, people who spent more than four hours a day on average playing “Animal Crossing” said they were happier.

Both “Animal Crossing” simulation game and “Plants vs Zombies” shooter both feature colorful, cartoon-like graphics, and neither is one of the more controversial titles for their violence. , or their incentive to spend money.

“Our results were remarkably similar for the two titles, which do not belong to the same genre,” Vuorre said. “Further studies will provide an opportunity to study a larger sample of genres.”

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