Video Games Can Improve Mental Health

A new Oxford University Study investigating the correlation between video games and mental wellness shows that video games can improve mental health.

If you observe the way the media portrays video games, you mainly see negative discussions around addiction, escapism, violence or how much money the developers are making. From TV to the news, video games are consistently getting the negative tag and stigmatised amongst other forms of entertainment.  It is very rare you see discussion of the positive effects of video games and we often fail to consider benefits to the life and wellness of gamers.

The Oxford study observed respondents who play EA’s shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Nintendo’s recent hit Animal Crossing. Everyone who participated reported greater well-being and positive mental health owing to their gaming activities.

Previous studies have been done like this but they didn’t incorporate actual play-time data. Whereas thanks to the online nature of these games they were easily able to monitor the time the participants spent playing. The team at Oxford then connected their psychological questionnaires to the gaming time, making it possible to gauge a person’s mental well-being in connection to their game time.

The researchers further solidified their findings by observing several factors connected to gamer experiences, including enjoyment, feelings of autonomy, improved competence and satisfaction.


Although this research is a step in the right direction for many gamers, the findings are not all-encompassing. This research was only conducted based on the two games mentioned above, and any other game could have greater or less impact. Another factor is a person’s attitude or disposition towards gaming which can positively or negatively affect their mental health or experiences.

In light of these new findings, Oxford University hope that the study will spring up more discussions into the benefits of video games and also help to shed more light on video game addiction.

It is estimated that almost 3 billion gamers exist in the world, with a large number of them enjoying the life-improving and overall positive effects of their hobbies.

Will this research influence people to stop tagging video games as sinister, stealthily harmful, and as guilty pleasures which we should overcome and conquer?

Perhaps, now is the time to change the perspective about video games and their effect on mental and general well-being.

Check out the Oxford Press Release and read the full study here

check out more of our posts on student mental health or learn more about the dsa assessment process.

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