People who spend time video games have been shown to have improved wellbeing according to a new study from Oxford University.
Rather than asking players how much they play, the study used industry data on actual play time for popular video games Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Players were then asked to carry out a survey on their experiences which was matched up against behavioural data of participants.
The researchers then looked at objective game time and well-being, examining the link between directly measured behaviour and subjective mental health.
It also explored the roles of player experiences, specifically how feelings of autonomy, relatedness, competence, enjoyment and feeling pressured to play related to well-being.
The results suggest that experiences of competence and social connection with others through play may contribute to people’s wellbeing, and those who derived enjoyment from playing were more likely to report experiencing positive wellbeing.
The authors of the study also suggested that these experiences during play may be even more important than the actual amount of time a player invests in games and could play a major role in the wellbeing of players.
Professor Andrew Przybylski, lead author of the study, said: “Previous research has relied mainly on self-report surveys to study the relationship between play and wellbeing.
“Without objective data from games 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’ wellbeing. 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.
“Through access to data on peoples’ playing time, for the first time we’ve been able to investigate the relation between actual game play behaviour and subjective wellbeing, enabling us to deliver a template for crafting high-quality evidence to support health policymakers.”
More than 3,270 players were asked to participate in the survey and its findings were combined with objective behavioural data for the survey participants, collected by the video game companies.