STATEN ISLAND, NY — A major study from the Oxford Internet Institute found “little to no evidence” linking the amount of time spent playing video games to overall well-being.
The researchers worked with the publishers of seven popular video games and used data from 39,000 adult international players to conduct the analysis, which was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
The study – which used players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Apex Legends, Eve Online, Forza Horizon 4, Gran Turismo Sport, Outriders and The Crew 2 – collected objective in-game behavior and responses from a three-wave survey to assess levels . of individual well-being, ranging from life satisfaction to levels of emotions such as happiness and anger.
The scientists then combined the game data with the survey responses to perform its analysis. It is believed to be the largest study of its kind using real-world data on player behavior.
“This exciting study brings together significant amounts of real game data collected by game companies and donated by players,” said Professor Andrew Przybylski, a senior researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, in a release. “Our work reliably measures how long people are playing these games over time, data that was simply not accessible in the past.”
The study contradicted an earlier analysis by the same research group in 2020. This smaller study found that people who played video games for longer had higher levels of happiness.
However, the newest research, conducted over a six-week period, noted that individuals would need to play 10 hours more than usual each day to notice personal changes. Rather, the reason for playing was found to be a more significant predictor of well-being.
Those who felt they played video games voluntarily had higher levels of well-being, while those who played out of a “sense of obligation” fell on the opposite side of the scale.
“Our study finds little or no evidence of links between gaming and well-being, but we know we need much more player data from many more platforms to develop the kind of deeper understanding required to inform policy and provide advice to parents and medical professionals. “, said Przybylski.
Scientists involved in the study said a wider net needs to be cast to better understand the true impact of video games on human health. They said the platforms should make it easier for users to share their data with researchers aiming to better understand the effects of video games.
“One thing is certain – at the moment there is not enough data and evidence for policy makers and regulators to develop laws and regulations to restrict gambling among certain groups in a population,” said Dr. Matti Vuorre, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. “I would urge all online platforms, not just game companies, to make it easy for users to donate their data to independent researchers.”
All data used for the study was anonymized and could be made public as a result, potentially informing other studies, the study authors said.
“This project also shows how important transparency is when studying video games. All data were anonymized, protecting the privacy of the participants and therefore could be made available to the public,” said Dr. Niklas Johannes, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute.
“The data is a valuable resource and enables other researchers to test their own research questions,” added Johannes. “For example, we used this data to show that playing two online shooters had no effect on aggression, and we encourage other researchers to make the most of this data.”