Is Now the Time to Try Video Games?

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You might want to ask your kids, grandkids or favorite gamers for tips on video gaming.It may do you some good. A study published by the University of Oxford shows that video gaming during the Covid-19 lockdown can be good for your mental health.

The study focused on specific games designed for all ages, including Nintendo’s Animal Crossing and EA’s Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. The study found that people who engaged in these games reported greater “wellbeing.” 

Results were formulated on data and survey responses from 518 players of Zombies and 2,756 players of Animal Crossing. The report marks the first time that developers shared their data with academics to study the impact of video games.

“This is about bringing games into the fold of psychology research that’s not a dumpster fire,” said Andrew Przybylski, the lead researcher on the project. “This lets us explain and understand games as a leisure activity.”

The study suggests that video games can provide positive or calming stimulation to the mind. That can come about through interactions with characters, dialogue or storylines that engage the mind.

“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,” Przybylski wrote in the report. “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.”

It’s a perfect storm for the gaming industry, as lockdowns around the world have video game developers expecting increased sales during the Christmas season. It’s also noteworthy that the industry hasn’t taken much of an economic impact since the Covid-19 outbreak. On the contrary, sales are booming. Just last week, two new gaming consoles were launched — PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X — and sold out everywhere almost immediately. 

It’s also worth noting that video gaming can be harmful when not used in moderation, and when games involve darker themes like intense violence, strong sexual content and use of drugs.

“I’m very confident that if the research goes on, we will learn about the things that we think of as toxic in games,” Przybylski said, “and we will have evidence for those things as well.”

Click here to read the full report.

And for a little extra inspiration, check out these gamers in action (filmed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.)