Playing video games can be good for mental health

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A study from the University of Oxford released on Monday (16) made a promising revelation for the gamer universe: playing video games can be good for mental health, said the researchers, who worked with real game data for the first time.

Focusing studies on Animal Crossing players from Nintendo and Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborhood from Electronic Arts, the research found that people who play games more often tend to express greater “well-being”, countering fears that such games could be addictive and harm mental health.

Video games have been identified, over time, as capable of affecting the psychological health of players, especially those who play online. Studies on the exposure of young people to long periods in front of screens have led the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify video games as a psychological disorder, “a decision criticized by many”, says research leader Matti Vuorre to AFP.

How the new study was done

Unlike previous studies, which focus only on time self-assessments with players, Oxford researchers worked with developers from EA and Nintendo, who provided data on the virtual connections used in games.

Another study author, Professor Andrew Przybylski, said in a statement that “for the first time, we were able to question the relationship between how to play and well-being”. Thus, the survey found that people who spend more than four hours daily playing Animal Crossing were happier.

When analyzing only these two games, which have a light theme and colorful graphics such as cartoons, the researchers recognize that neither of them is included in that list of more controversial titles for inciting violence and consumerism.

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Przybylski warns that research is not a “carte blanche” for all games, and that only additional studies can provide opportunities to study a wider sample of genres.


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