It has been studied over the years that video games may cause anxiety or depression, and violent video games have a correlated effect on behavioral health and mental illness. But what about those not so violent games our kids play?
You know – the fun, cute ones with the sweet music in the background that might even get dear old Grandpa playing with the Grandkids? The answer itself may just surprise you.
In a recent landmark study from Oxford University, the academic community worked with actual gameplay video game data for the first time ever. The behavioral health project focused on two popular children’s video games: Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing” and Electronic Arts “Plants vs. Zombies”.
“This lets us explain and understand games as a leisure activity” commented Andrew Przybylski, lead researcher during the mental health research project. “(The data) shows that if you play four hours a day of Animal Crossing, you’re a much happier human being.”
Mental Health Research
The data found playing these two video games can potentially be good for your mental health. Similarly, a player’s attitude toward video gaming itself can also affect the mental impact playing games has. The “intrinsic” enjoyment (e.g. playing because it’s fun) is continuing to be researched compared to the “extrinsic” enjoyment (e.g. feeling bullied or peer pressured into playing with other players).
The data analysis suggests that people who played these two games tended to report greater well being in general. As research continues in the future, scientists may eventually be able to isolate the toxic mental health elements of video games. This could help present evidence-based therapy on scenarios that generate anxiety or depression in the game player themselves.