But the study was limited to those two headlines, and the researchers did not unequivocally conclude that there was an increase in playing time that allowed participants to experience better mental health.
“Our findings suggest that video games are not necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors that significantly impact a person’s well-being,” Andrew Prezibalski, Oxford Internet Institute research director and head of studies Author, said.
“In fact, playing can be an activity that is positively related to people’s mental health – and regulating video games can prevent those benefits for players.”
The study used data and survey responses from 518 players from “Plants vs. Zombies” and 2,756 players from “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”.
The game’s developers shared anonymous data about people’s playing habits, and researchers separately surveyed those gamers about their wellbeing.
The approach first reported that developers shared their data with academics for a major study on the impact of video games.
This comes after years of debate about the impact of video games on the mental health of young people, and amid an epidemic that has skyrocketed sales of some titles.
The social simulation game places a central character in a village populated by animals, and features its own version of the stock market, where users can sell their turnips to five or six times more Reticon characters at a rate going to get rich.
“Plants vs. Zombies” is a third-person shooter in which players can control either titular creatures.
Researchers suggested that the “experiences of competence and social connection with others” given by the games may have contributed to the results.
But the study’s focus on just two games meant that they could not draw conclusions about the influence of other genres or gaming platforms.
And the authors stressed that further collaborative research should be conducted to determine if it was their own play and that mental health was improved.
He said, “We are optimistic that this type of cooperation will provide the necessary evidence to advance our understanding of the human game and inform policy makers how they can shape, for good or ill, our health.” They said.