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Surprise: Video Games Can Be Good For Your Brain

Surprise, surprise: video games could actually be a positive factor in your well-being. According to a recent study from the University of Oxford, there's new data that positively relates how much time people spend gaming with a higher well-being. In games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the motivation from within the game can positively affect the well-being of players. This pattern was seen over and over again in study participants.

The study resulted in findings that saw a positive correlation between time spent playing games and well-being, as long as players chose to play games for the right reason. For example, playing a game because you like the game can make you happy, especially in the long run, but playing a game because someone else wants you to play with them doesn't necessarily benefit you. The findings strongly suggest that video games aren't harmful to a player's well-being.

Professor Andrew Przybylski and Dr. Niklas Johannes worked with Nintendo of America, Electronic Arts, and regular players to study the effects of Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and the game-changing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The study surveyed roughly 3,000 players to measure their well-being, asking players questions about how much time they spent playing and why they choose to play video games.

The study also found that players were over-estimating how much time they actually spent playing video games. Historically, video game studies have been reliant on self-reported studies, which this new study mentioned are known for being inaccurate. In other words, it's more difficult to rely on someone to accurately report and police their own gaming habits.

These findings arrive at a critical time in video game history. According to the study, European policy-makers are looking at lower-quality studies with weak theories about video games when consider whether or not to restrict gameplay. Thanks to its funding, and because of a collaboration with Nintendo of America and Electronic Arts, this new study was as unbiased as possible, with an aim to provide accurate results.

This study isn't the first time in recent history that gaming has been turned to as a healthy alternative to other activities. Last year, the World Health Organization supported video game play as a way to maintain social interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a massive effect on the gaming industry. While Przybylski and Johannes started their research before the pandemic, they pushed through and provided some pleasing results for gamers and the world of academia: video games can actually have positive effects.