During the current pandemic, video game sales have skyrocketed as more people are stuck at home. But spending time enjoying the newest ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed’ title might actually be beneficial for your mental health, according to experts from Oxford University.
In this study, researchers used data from people who played two games, ‘Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville’ and ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ and found that the actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s well-being. By asking them how they felt about their experiences after enjoying a gaming session, the team found that a player’s positive subjective experiences during play might trigger a wellbeing factor.
While it is usually thought that video games are bad for your health by increasing sedentary levels and exposing you to violence, there are other psychological components to them which have a significant effect on a person's wellbeing. They can act as a cathartic experience during times where we’re expected to stay inside more time than usual.
Games like ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’, which was used in this study and is a social simulation game populated by real online players that even features its own version of the stock market, get people closer to social interaction than ever before. These types of virtual experiences provide sources of support, reduce stress, combat depression and enhance intellectual stimulation.