According to a study conducted at the University of Oxford on real gameplay data, it has been concluded that games benefit mental health.
The study, which focused on players from Animal Crossing and Plants vs. Zombies concluded that people who played more tended to be happier and more prosperous, which contradicts earlier reports that video games could be harmful to mental health. A key factor of the study is that this is the first to be done with real-time data, thanks to their ability to connect to the internet. In this way, the Oxford University team was able to link psychological questionnaires to real records and therefore more reliable and realistic results. The project leader, Andrew Przybylski, speaking on the subject stated:
“This study allows us to better understand and explain games as a recreational activity. What we realized is that those who played Animal Crossing 4 hours a day were much happier. And this is exactly what makes it more interesting than previous studies, which were based on vague data. I am sure that if the research continues, we will be able to discover new reliable data even on toxicity.”
Since the research sample was based on two games that are for all ages, there may be more aspects to video games that are less healthy in terms of mental health. The attitude of someone playing could affect the mental impact of another player or even the same. This means that the “innate” enjoyment of playing a video game because it is fun and good for one’s mental health often does not coincide with the “exogenous” behavioural factor that may lead to toxicity.
Finally, the researchers hope that further study will also provide a more secure level of evidence about the concept of video game addiction and the dangers of online digital entertainment in general.