Fun & Games Psychology & The Mind

Doing something you enjoy is good for your mental health


Playing video games can be good for your mental health, a study from Oxford University has suggested, following a breakthrough collaboration in which academics at the university worked with actual gameplay data for the first time.

The study, which focused on players of Nintendo’s springtime craze Animal Crossing, as well as EA’s shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, found that people who played more games tended to report greater “wellbeing”, casting further doubt on reports that video gaming can harm mental health.

I’ve always felt that there’s a lot of FUD around gaming. At the end of the day, it’s the same as any leisure activity, if it takes over your life, there’s something wrong. If you’re skipping sleep to play football, that’s a problem. Everything in moderation, after all (including moderation, every so often, it’s good for the soul to go wild).

Crucially, the study was one of the first to be done using actual play-time data. Thanks to the internet-connected nature of the games, the Oxford University team was able to link up psychological questionnaires with true records of time spent playing games. Previous studies had tended to focus on self-reported time playing, which is, the study found, only weakly correlated with reality.

Self-reported studies are always prone to issues, looks like it dawned on someone that all this data is there now (for better or worse).