Video Games Really Can Be Good For You

Rohan Mathew

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Good news has come for fans of video games from no less an authority than Oxford University. It seems that spending time playing can, in fact, be good for players’ overall mental health.

This might come as a surprise to many, as conventional thinking to date has been that excessive playing of video games can lead to introversion and even a lack of resilience for dealing with everyday life. There have also been a number of studies in the past that have sought, generally unsuccessfully, to link aggression in games to aggressive behavior. But articles such as the one published at has found no hard evidence to support this.

Nevertheless, there remains the feeling that playing games is a less than constructive way to spend one’s time.

The same can’t be said about brain-training games which have long been held up as a way to both improve mental acuity and fend off dementia for older people. In one study 2,800 people over the age of 65 were tested by exposing them to six weeks of hour-long sessions to discover the effects on their memory, reasoning skills, and ability to process facts. The majority showed an improvement that lasted for the next five years. There were also significant improvements in their skills at managing finances and doing housework. But it should be noted that some charities have published articles like questioning whether this kind of evidence is robust enough to be 100% reliable.

In the study carried out by Oxford University, the focus was more on games played for pleasure with games from Nintendo and EA Games being examined. The test group of players generally reported that they had a distinct feeling of relaxation and well-being after playing the games for the allotted period of time.

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“Xbox 360” (CC BY 2.0) by YuMaNuMa

The difference between the data gathered in this study and in previous ones was that it was collated online immediately after the end of the session. Other research has been carried out by asking gamers to fill in questionnaires after their play has finished and it’s believed that this has led to some inaccurate findings. This is due to respondents reflecting on an experience in the past rather than giving immediate impressions.

The research is also of great interest to more sectors than simply video gaming. For example, online are always looking for information about ways to attract new players over and above the sorts of joining bonuses and free spins that can be found at sites like, for example, games like poker are already well-known for their applications of mental skill and strategy. By learning more about the psychological benefits that playing might have, as well as people’s responses to different kinds of games, this could also shape the future of the sector. Which could then lead to a more tailored approach than players currently enjoy.

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So, this has all opened up a fascinating area for debate which no doubt will continue and develop into the future. For game developers, it has provided more than just a little food for thought.