FILE - In this Thursday, Jan, 23, 2020 file photo, Nintendo Switch game consoles are on display at Nintendo’s official store in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Time spent playing video games can be good for mental health, according to a new study by researchers at Oxford University. The finding comes as video game sales this year have boomed as more people are stuck at home because of the pandemic and many countries have once again imposed limits on public life. The paper released Monday, NOv. 16, 2020 is based on survey responses from people who played two games, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan, 23, 2020 file photo, Nintendo Switch game consoles are on display at Nintendo’s official store in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Time spent playing video games can be good for mental health, according to a new study by researchers at Oxford University. The finding comes as video game sales this year have boomed as more people are stuck at home because of the pandemic and many countries have once again imposed limits on public life. The paper released Monday, NOv. 16, 2020 is based on survey responses from people who played two games, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Study suggests video games can help mental health

The results could cast doubt on long-held assumptions that gaming causes aggression or addiction

Time spent playing video games can be good for mental health, according to a new study by researchers at Oxford University.

The finding comes as video game sales this year have boomed as more people are stuck at home because of the pandemic and many countries have once again imposed limits on public life.

The paper released Monday is based on survey responses from people who played two games, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

In a first, the study used data provided by the game makers, Electronic Arts and Nintendo of America, on how much time the respondents spent playing, unlike previous research that relied on imprecise estimates from the players.

The researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute said they found the actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s well-being.

The paper, which hasn’t been peer reviewed, said the level of enjoyment that players get from a game could be a more important factor for their well-being than mere playing time.

The results could cast doubt on long-held assumptions that gaming causes aggression or addiction, though the authors acknowledge they are only a snapshot.

“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,“ said Andrew Przybylski, the institute’s director of research. “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.”

Some 2,756 players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in the U.S., U.K. and Canada were surveyed along with 518 players of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. They were asked to fill out a survey on their experiences that was matched up against playing time logged by the game companies.

Lack of transparency from game makers has long been an issue for scientists hoping to better understand player behaviours and the authors said previous research used to propose advice for parents and policymakers was done without a robust evidence base.

The Associated Press

mental healthvideo games

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Caroline Sousa, Bela Spick and her son Mateo marched along Prospect Lake Road in November 2019 to bring attention to the unsafe conditions on the road. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich reduces Prospect Lake Road speed limit to 30 km/h

New speed limit in effect as of Dec. 1 from Goward Road to Estelline Road

Royal Bay Secondary’s leadership class, comprised of Grade 9 through 12 students, is part of the student team organizing this year’s 10,000 Tonight event that shifts entirely online for 2020. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
West Shore student food drive shifts entirely online

Drive-thru option removed from 10,000 Tonight in light of COVID-19 restrictions

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for Colwood man last seen in September

Geoffrey Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

BC Transit confirmed on Dec. 1 that a Langford employee has tested positive for COVID-19. (Courtesy of BC Transit)
Langford transit worker tests positive for COVID-19

Island Health is conducting contact tracing for the case

The BCCDC has added Air Canada Jazz flight 8081 on Nov. 26 to its flight exposure list. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
New COVID-19 exposure on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Rows four to 10 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8081 on Nov. 26 were exposed

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read