Scientists have proved computer games do not affect the psyche
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Scientists have proved: computer games do not affect the psyche of gamers, but there are exceptions

Researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute examined the behavior of 40,000 gamers in a study and found that computer games do not harm a person’s mental health – except in cases where the game is addictive.

    Image source: Olya Adamovich / pixabay.com

Image source: Olya Adamovich / pixabay.com

Regardless of the game genre, the authors of the study could not find a causal relationship between games and the mental health of gamers. However, noted Andrew K. Przybylski, senior fellow at the institute, there is a clear difference between players who play “because they want”and they play “because he feels he should”. The mental health of the first games didn’t affect it, no matter how much time these people spent playing them – they made them “strong positive feeling”. But the second one got really worse.

Games of different genres were used as part of the study: life simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons, racing simulator Gran Turismo Sport, as well as online hits, including Apex Legends and Eve Online. Professor Przybylski says there was no difference in the psychological impact – whether the player landed on the island in Animal Crossing or fought in Apex Legends’ Royal Battle.

    Image Source: Sam Williams / pixabay.com

Image Source: Sam Williams / pixabay.com

The Oxford study is unique for many reasons. In previous projects, players were asked to keep diaries describing their experiences, but this time they gave permission to collect real-time game data. The sample of 40,000 people is also impressive. But that’s not enough, Professor Przybylsky is certain: scientists still have access to a limited data set, and there are many more players in the world. According to his calculations, around a billion people are enthusiastic about computer games, and there are around 3,000 projects on the Nintendo platform alone. And drawing conclusions based on seven games is like examining a supermarket based on seven products on the shelves.

It’s worth noting that scientists had to deal directly with gamers, since Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have rather complicated relationships with developers, who would be difficult to convince that ongoing scientific research is primarily in the interests of gamers themselves. The data belongs to the players, not the platforms or developers, and the researchers would move forward quickly by collecting data directly from the platforms.

“Gamers want to know what impact games have. Scientists want to know. Parents want to know. The government wants to know. I want to know <..> and there is information. This data should be open and easy to share. <..> If major gaming platforms care about the well-being of their players, they need to give players and scientists the opportunity to understand what impact their products are having on us: for better or for worse.”– concluded Professor Przybylski.

The results of the study were published in the journal Open Science of the Royal Society.

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Alan Foster

Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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