Great News: Video Games May be Good for You

There once was a time when parents all over the world were concerned that their children were spending too much time watching TV. But then the video games revolution arrived and the new worry was the amount of time spent in front of screens of a different kind.

The appeal of conquering alien worlds and going on adventures of every kind has simply proved too attractive for so many players of all ages that they have resisted all attempts to prise them away from their game controllers.

Now, however, there is some solid evidence that dedicated gamers aren’t doing themselves any real harm from playing games. In fact, it can be positively beneficial for their mental wellbeing. This is what researchers from no less an institution as Oxford University have found in one of the first surveys of its kind.

The research focused on two particular games, the incredibly popular Animal Crossing and the shooter game Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville.

phrenology” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by thoughtwax

It’s been known for some time that playing games can have an effect on the brain. However, most of the research to date has focused on the effects of so-called brain training games in delaying or preventing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of mental deterioration. The most usual analogy is that the brain is like a muscle and the more exercise it has to do and the more it is used, the better shape it will be in.

The new research, however, didn’t so much focus on the mental effort needed to play video games but more on the effects on the players’ moods. The two games were chosen for their different styles to see what difference the effects might include. Also, unlike much of the previous research that had been done in which players have been asked general questions about attitudes and feelings, this involved providing answers immediately after a gaming session.

The overall findings were that there was a general sensation of wellbeing due to the intrinsic pleasures of the game, although the researchers have acknowledged that there may well be less welcome side-effects of extended play of other games yet to be explored.

It’s thought that the research findings will be of great use to both the games industry, as well as associated fields like online casinos, in identifying what makes games particularly appealing and enjoyable. In the case of the latter, in a highly competitive sector, it is increasingly important for operators. The marketplace is packed with a range of businesses vying for a share of the audience, as can be seen on sites like, using things like welcome bonuses in an effort to do so. By taking a deep dive into the psychology of games, this could be a real game-changer for many operators.

The researchers acknowledge that there is a great deal more work to be done in the field but feel that this has been an important first step.

Picture credits: “tex playing video games” (CC BY 2.0) by RebeccaPollard