Fascinating games

We have the scientific proof: spending more time playing video games is not bad for you

The number of hours a person spends playing video games does not affect their well-being, but their motivation to play is likely to have an influence, according to a new study.

While fears about the effects of playing video games for long periods of time are often voiced, this research runs counter to those occasional concerns. Tracking the playtime of nearly 40,000 participants across seven games, including Animal Cross: New Horizons and Outriders, the Oxford University study (opens in a new tab) found no causal link between time spent gambling and a person’s mental health.

The study, which claims to be based on the largest ever survey of gamers, tracked the number of hours participants spent playing video games over a two-week period. He then measured their well-being by asking participants to reflect on their feelings during this time, as well as their overall level of satisfaction with their life.

“Across six weeks, seven games, and 38,935 players, our results suggest that the most pronounced hopes and fears about video games may be unfounded,” the study said. “Time spent playing video games had little or no impact on well-being. Likewise, well-being had little or no effect on time spent playing games.

A matter of motivation


(Image credit: Square Enix)

Along with recording participants’ emotional states, the study asked gamers to reflect on their experienced sense of autonomy, competence, relating to others, and intrinsic motivation to play over the course of the game. two week period. The idea was to find out whether they played because they wanted to or because they felt compelled to.

“We discovered that the number of players played didn’t really matter [in terms of their sense of well-being]said researcher Andrew Przybylski in a Press release (opens in a new tab).

“It wasn’t the quantity of games, but the quality that mattered…if they felt they had play, they felt worse. If they were playing because they loved it, then the data didn’t suggest it was affecting their mental health. It seemed to give them a strong positive feeling.

However, this relationship may not last longer. The study excluded all gaming sessions below zero and above 10 hours to mitigate logging errors. It is unclear how a person’s well-being may interact with prolonged periods of gambling.

Seven games were used in the study, including Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Apex Legends, Eve Online, Forza Horizon 4, Gran Turismo Sport, Outriders, and The Crew 2. Working with the game publishers, the research team was able to directly record the duration of participants’ gaming sessions, rather than relying on players’ own estimates.

While these titles span a range of genres, from racing sims to MMORPGs, the study suggests more research is needed: “to really understand why people play and to what effect, we need to study a wider variety of games, genres and players”.

“These are just the first steps in the world to understand how gaming fits into players’ lives,” Przybylski said. “And it seems like why you play is the key factor. It’s an exciting study, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”