A study by professors and researchers at the University of Oxford found that playing video games is unlikely to affect a player’s well-being, either positively or negatively. This finding comes after China announced a three-hour-per-week limit on online video games for its youngest citizens due to health concerns, but also after Animal Crossing: New Horizons made headlines for being the perfect antidote to fear and anxiety. of the pandemic.
The study examined 39,000 gamers aged 18 and over, across seven games: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, eve onlineApex Legends, Forza Horizon 4, Gran Turismo Sport and The Crew 2. The researchers also worked with seven “leading video game companies”: Nintendo of America, EA, CCP Games, Microsoft, Sony, Square Enix and Ubisoft, the developers of the games. aforementioned games.
By working with the companies, the researchers were able to track actual gaming habits, rather than self-reported ones. The games chosen weren’t chosen randomly, but rather a selection of games from publishers that are “open science-minded”, as one of the researchers told The Guardian.
Players were asked to complete surveys about their mood over the past two weeks, as well as how long they spent playing the games in question. Although the study involved thousands of gamers and the results indicated that the games did not have a significant effect on mood, the researchers considered the result a small step in the right direction for future policies around video games.
“We know we need much more player data from many more platforms to develop the kind of deeper understanding needed to inform policy and shape advice for parents and medical professionals,” said Professor Andrew K. Przybylski, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. , who conducted similar research on the general effect of media on well-being, including music, television, books, and movies, with similar results.
Professor Przybylski also called for more transparency from video game companies: “If we want to really understand how games influence human health, we need to collect data from the thousands of games played every day. The conclusive answers to Questions about how gaming influences our society require all major console, computer and mobile platforms to allow their users to effortlessly and ethically donate their gaming data for independent analysis.”
“One thing is for sure: At this time there is not enough data and evidence for lawmakers and regulators to develop laws and rules to restrict gambling among certain groups of a population.”
– Dr. Matti Vuore, Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute
Some of the researchers involved in the study also conducted a study in 2020 on the effect of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on well-being, which found that could have a positive impact. “Our findings show that video games are not necessarily bad for your health,” Professor Przybylski said in 2020. “Indeed, gaming may be an activity that is positively related to people’s mental health, and regulating video games could deprive the players of those benefits. .” The study also hypothesized that people whose psychological needs were not being met in the real world were more likely to report a negative gaming outcome.
What is the conclusion of all these studies? First, that this study, and any study, “barely scratches[es] the surface of video game play more broadly,” and while the findings may be accurate, they are an incomplete picture. Second, policymakers need to make decisions based on evidence, not gut feelings about video games.
And thirdly, that we shouldn’t rely on video games to improve our moods, or blame them for unhappiness, although there may be cases where a gaming experience can affect the way we feel, games are just one part of a tapestry of things throughout. one day. They are not a magical cure-all, and they are not the devil either.
“Moving forward, it is essential to cast a broader and deeper empirical and theoretical net and focus on the qualities of gaming experiences, game events, and players for whom effects may vary. Until then, limiting or promoting the game based solely on time seems to have neither benefit nor harm”.
– “Time spent playing video games is unlikely to affect well-being”, for Matti Voorre, niklas johanne, Kristoff MagnussonY Andrew K. Przybylski
You can read the study here.