New study: influence of video games on well-being not demonstrable

Gaming data from 39,000 people across seven games were the basis for a new study from the University of Oxford on the effects of console and computer gaming.

Sound like a lot? Yes, but it’s still far too little, say the Oxford scientists. The issue of gaming is simply too big, they say.

Videospiele Video Games Wohlbefinden Gamer Games

According to a new study by Oxford University, time spent playing video games has neither positive nor negative effects on the well-being of gamers. At the same time, however, the researchers point out that their study barely scratches the surface of video gaming in general.

“Our results indicate that the impact of time spent playing video games on well-being is likely too small to be subjectively perceived and is not credibly different from zero,” the Oxford researchers say. Going forward, they say it’s important to continue research, “cast a wider and deeper empirical and theoretical net, and focus on the qualities of the gaming experience, the events in the game, and the players for whom the effects may vary.”

Time is not enough

It goes on to say, “Hundreds of millions of gamers play tens of thousands of games on online platforms. We were only able to study seven games, so the generalizability of our findings is limited. To truly understand why people play games and the effect they have, we need to study a wider variety of games, genres, and players.” Future work would also need to consider the situations, motivations and contexts in which people play.

To be sure, the total amount of play time analyzed is “the largest possible measure of play.” But at the same time, play time is a biased variable, he said, because only a minority of gamers spend very much time playing. Thus, deciding the benefits or harms of gaming based on game time alone is insufficient.

Premium Science Content: Oxford in Cooperation with the Games Industry

The study, published in the scientific journal Royal Society Open Science, was conducted in cooperation with various game publishers using authorized, anonymized data from nearly 39,000 gamers. Data was collected from five games: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo), Apex Legends (Electronic Arts), Eve Online (CCP Games), Forza Horizon 4 (Microsoft), Gran Turismo Sport (Sony Interactive Entertainment), Outriders (Square Enix) and The Crew 2 (Ubisoft).

With the results of these studies, as well as future ones, the researchers hope to provide lawmakers, health care providers and game developers with data to make decisions.