A recent video game study at the U.K.’s Oxford University has cast playing video games in a positive light. The Oxford Internet Institute studied two games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, and the results are promising. Unlike in most studies of this sort, where players self-report all information, Nintendo and EA also directly provided anonymized player information. For Plants vs. Zombies, EA offered study data on account playtime, achievements, and in-game emoticons used for the latter game, whereas Nintendo only offered playtime. A total of 3,274 players above the age of 18 were part of the study.
Via BBC, Professor Andrew Przybylski, who led the study, shared some details on what Animal Crossing: New Horizons players expressed. He said that users who typically played for “four hours a day, every single day” felt “significantly happier” than those who didn’t. He also said that the results surprised him, as past studies had provided different results.
It doesn’t surprise us though. In the case of New Horizons, it provided valuable entertainment in a time of uncertainty. That particular game also provided players with a social escape online, where doing so in person wasn’t possible in many parts of the world. Przybylski attributes these results to social features found in both New Horizons and Battle for Neighborville.
While both Nintendo and EA provided data for the two games in question, Przybylski wants other companies to share information. “We need to study more games, and more players, over more time,” he said. Garnering more explicit data on how playing games correlates to greater happiness could be useful. Mainstream media has often linked gaming with negative side effects, like anger and violence. It’s nice to see a study buck the trend though, and we hope any future research leads to similar, positive results.