Playing video games has no effect on wellbeing, according to the results of a new study.
The study was conducted by a team at the Oxford Internet Institute, which looked at the happiness of a group of 39,000 gamers in relation to real world gameplay data. The group had access (via consent) to six weeks of gaming data taken from seven games: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Apex Legends, Eve Online, Forza Horizon 4, Gran Turismo Sport, The Crew 2, and Outriders.
This inclusion of actual gameplay data marks the latest study out as the most comprehensive yet, with previous studies relying on self-reported estimates.
The conclusion: playing video games has no real affect on a gamer’s wellbeing, and you would need to play games for 10 hours more than the usual amount for any discernible difference to manifest itself.
“Contrary to what we might think about games being good or bad for us,” said Prof Andrew Przybylski (via the BBC), “we found pretty conclusive evidence that how much you play doesn’t really have any bearing whatsoever on changes in well-being.”
Przybylski also noted that a gamer’s mindset going into a gaming session had a significant influence on results. “If players were playing because they wanted to, rather than because they felt compelled to, they had to, they tended to feel better,” he said.
Interestingly, these findings run counter to a previous study conducted by the same team in 2020. That study concluded that that gamers who played for longer were happier, though the study was much smaller in scale and only focused on two games.
Taken together, however, these two studies would appear to dispel the myth that gaming is inherently bad for you.