Video games aren’t stretching people’s mental health, and they’re not allowing it. According to a study of gamers, they don’t do much to push the needle at all.
Policymakers and public health bodies have expressed anxiety about the potential for video games to be addictive or damage mental health.
This study, broadcasted in the journal Royal Society Open Science, shows one of the more comprehensive glances at the relationship between video games and well-being. Moreover, it makes on previous research from the same team that didn’t discover harmful effects on mental health.
The research team operated with video game publishers to recruit nearly 39,000 people who played one of seven games: Apex Legends, Eve Online, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Forza Horizon 4, Gran Turismo Sport, and The Crew 2. The game publishers provided gameplay data for participants over six weeks, and the researchers surveyed participants three times.
Because the team could examine players’ gaming data, they didn’t have to rely on players’ self-reporting the part of the time they spent playing games — so the team could get a more accurate read on gaming time. Instead, the study measured well-being using the scale of positive and negative experiences, which asked people to rank how often they participated with feelings like “happy” and “afraid.” Cantril’s self-anchoring scale asks people to say where they are on a ladder, with the top depicting their best possible life.
The study also asked individuals to take the Player Experience of Need Satisfaction survey, which tracks people’s experience with specific games — monitoring things like their perception of autonomy and motivations to play the game.
The analysis discovered that consuming more or less time playing games didn’t negatively or positively impact how people felt. Conversely, how people felt didn’t significantly impact how much time people spent gaming.
The authors said any role video games play in skewing well-being that did pop up in the analysis was too small to have a real-world impact on how people feel. The study found that people would have to play games for ten more hours per day than their baseline to notice shifts in their well-being.
The study found proof that people’s reasons for playing games and their experience playing them had a negligibly more significant impact on well-being. For example, when people played games because they desired to, their well-being was better than when people recreated games because they felt driven to. Still, those relationships were small, and it’s unclear if those motivations would have much of a noticeable impact on players.
The authors noted that there’s still more to learn about how video games impact people’s feelings and behavior. This analysis only glimpsed at a handful of the thousands of fun on the market. Researchers still need to investigate how motivations to play games and the quality of gameplay could shift people’s experiences. They also must figure out if certain people have characteristics that drive them more or less susceptible to shifts in well-being.
“We know we require much more player data from many more platforms to design the kind of deeper understanding required to announce policy and shape advice to parents and medical professionals,” said study author Andrew Przybylski, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, in a statement.
A video or computer game is an electronic game that affects interaction with a user interface or input device – like a joystick, controller, keyboard, or motion sensing device – to generate visual feedback. This feedback is generally displayed on a video display device, like a monitor, TV set, touchscreen, or VR headset.
However, some computer games do not always rely on a graphics display; for instance, text adventure games and computer chess can be recreated through teletype printers. Instead, video games are often augmented with audio feedback delivered through speakers or headphones and occasionally with other types of input with haptic technology.
Video games are based on their platform, including arcade, console, and personal computer (PC) games. The industry has recently expanded onto mobile gaming through virtual and augmented reality systems, mobile and tablet computers, and remote cloud gaming. Video games are classified into a broad spectrum of genres based on their gameplay and purpose.
The original video game prototypes in the 1950s and 1960s were easy attachments of electronic games using video-like output from big room-size computers. The leading consumer video game was the arcade video game Computer Space in 1971. In 1972 came the iconic sensation arcade game Pong and the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey.
The industry increased during the golden age of arcade video games from the late 1970s to the early 1980s but suffered from the crash of the North American video game market in 1983 due to the loss of publishing control and saturation of the market. Following the crash, the industry matured, overwhelmed by Japanese companies like Nintendo, Sega, and Sony, and established practices and procedures around the development and distribution of video games to prevent a comparable crash in the future, many of which persist in being followed. Today, video game development requires considerable skills to bring a game to market, including developers, publishers, distributors, retailers, consoles, and other third-party manufacturers, and different roles.
In the 2000s, the core enterprise centered on “AAA” games, leaving smallish room for riskier, experimental games. It is coupled with the availability of the Internet and digital distribution that this shared room for independent video game development (indie games) gained prominence in the 2010s. Since then, the commercial significance of the video game industry has been increasing.
In particular, emerging Asian markets and smartphone mobile games are altering player demographics towards casual gaming and improving monetization by incorporating games as a service. As of 2020, the international video game market has estimated annual revenues of US$159. It is three times the size of the 2019 global music industry and four times that of the 2019 film industry.