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

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read