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Oxford University study finds playing games can positively impact emotional well-being

Oxford University study finds playing games can positively impact emotional well-being

November 16, 2020 | By Chris Kerr




New research from Oxford University has found that playing video games can have a positive effect on a person's emotional well-being. 

The study, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute, explored the links between objective playtime and well-being by specifically looking at the behavior patterns of Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons players. 

During the study, researchers asked 3,274 players to complete a survey designed to measure well-being and self-reported playtime, and also asked them to note any motivational experiences that occurred during play sessions. 

Those survey findings were then combined with objective play data for the participants collected by EA and Nintendo of America, allowing researchers to investigate the relation between actual game play behavior and subjective well-being. 

Using that methodology, the study found that players who experienced genuine enjoyment during play sessions came away with a greater sense of positive well-being. 

They also noted that a player's subjective experiences during play could be a bigger factor for well-being than the length of a play session -- although the actual amount of time spent playing was also a small but significant factor. 

"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," commented professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute and lead author of the study. 

"Through access to data on peoples’ playing time, for the first time we’ve been able to investigate the relation between actual game play behavior and subjective well-being, enabling us to deliver a template for crafting high-quality evidence to support health policymakers."

As for why video games might improve the wellbeing of players, the study indicated that "experiences of competence and social connection with others through play" could have a positive effect on their headspace. For more information on the study, head on over to the Oxford University website.



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