Video Gaming

Oxford Study Shows Playing Video Games Is Good For The Mental Health


When it comes to playing video games, most people view it as a form of entertainment or as a way to pass the time. But it seems games do more than entertain people, as a recent study has shown that playing video games is right for your mental health. Let’s discuss more in this article.

The University of Oxford Conducted the Study on Video Games

The University of Oxford conducted the research. Their study analyzed the effects of games like Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville from Electronic Arts and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. And their results showed that players who spend time playing video games felt happier.


Video Games
Source: Sara KurfeR on Unsplash


According to the Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), Andrew Przybylski, playing video games is not bad for people’s health. Przybylski, who is also the study’s lead author, said that “other psychological factors” will have “a significant effect on a person’s well-being.” He also states that playing video games positively affects a person’s mental health and that regulating might prevent people from experiencing that benefit.

How Did the University Conduct the Study?

The developers of the two games provided the OII with anonymous data regarding their players’ playing habits. The OII then surveyed the gamers they got to come up with the results. They got 2,756 responses from players playing Animal Crossing, while 518 answers came from players playing Plants vs. Zombies.

The assistance that the video game developers gave the researchers was unprecedented, considering this is the first time they shared their data for an academic study. Przybylski said that prior researchers only relied on self-reported play behavior, which they know to be entirely inaccurate.

Do the Games Themselves Make People Happy?

Przybylski said games themselves aren’t the sole contributor that makes people happy and improves their mental health. He said that these games’ social aspects also play a significant role. It’s all because players to interact online with their friends whenever they are playing these games. This finding is not new. A Study International reported that Prztbylski already said last April that people play online games with friends to “satisfy basic psychological needs.”


Plants vs Zombies Battle for Neighborville
Source: Plants vs Zombies


The fact that because of COVID-19, people were prevented from spending time with other people in person. So they turned to video games to continue with the interaction with their friends. He said that the pandemic had revealed the social benefits of playing video games.

Any Issues with the Study?

Though the findings seem promising, one major issue with this study is that the result came from only two video game titles. So it’s hard to provide a blanket statement that video games, in general, can contribute to improvements in mental health. The researchers did not conclude that increasing the time playing video games will result in better mental health for people.

Nevertheless, this is a groundbreaking study that already has supporting data to back it up. It can be a great stepping stone for further research to see how video games affect a person’s mental health.

Final Thoughts

Many people turn to video games to have fun and relax, especially after a stressful period. Gamers usually say that they play games because it makes them happy, which many people don’t see because of the lack of scientific evidence. But that’s not the case anymore.

The recent study that the Oxford Internet Institute conducted, now provides academic evidence that games can make people happier. Though it’s just a small sample size, it’s still a great start, and it can already back up claims that many gamers make, playing games can make people happy.