If you needed an excuse to buy the PlayStation 5, this might just be it, as a study has found gaming to be good for your mental health.
The study wasn’t just done by a group of teenagers trying to convince their parents they need a PS5 for Christmas either – it was properly conducted by a team at Oxford University.
Researchers focused on people playing the popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing in addition to EA’s Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, and found those who played more games express that they were experiencing greater wellbeing.
According to The Guardian, this study was the first of its kind to use play-time data by the university team, linking up psychological questionnaires with true records of time spent playing games.
Leader researcher Andrew Przybylski said of the study:
This is about bringing games into the fold of psychology research that’s not a dumpster fire. This lets us explain and understand games as a leisure activity. It was a quest to figure out is data collected by gaming companies vaguely useful for academic and health policy research?
Przybylski went on to say how he was surprised with how little data there was on gaming, and how the limited hard data there was hadn’t really been used in any studies into its positive or negative effects.
From the study, Przybylski found that four hours of Animal Crossing made people much happier, and described previous research on wellbeing and gaming as done ‘badly’.
While the study indicates there are benefits to gaming, Przybylski believes that as they conduct more research, more of the harmful effects will also be discovered. He said, ‘I’m very confident that if the research goes on, we will learn about the things that we think of as toxic in games,’ adding that they will have evidence for this.
As per The Guardian, he said:
You have really respected, important bodies, like the World Health Organization and the NHS, allocating attention and resources to something that there’s literally no good data on. And it’s shocking to me, the reputational risk that everyone’s taking, given the stakes. For them to turn around and be like, ‘hey, this thing that 95% of teenagers do? Yeah, that’s addictive, no, we don’t have any data,’ that makes no sense.
As Przybylski views previous data on the topic as poor, he hopes the study will help with discussions around video game addiction, among other things.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.