Get your islands ready and prepare your plant army because, contrary to popular belief, video games really could bring joy.
A study from the University of Oxford showed a small positive relation between playing Plants versus Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons and self-reported wellbeing.
The research also found a small correlation between motivation to play and well-being, and then an independent correlation between longer play-time and wellbeing. Common motivations to play were to have fun and to escape.
And, for games where you’re bombarded by an onslaught of zombies or have to pay literally over a million shells in loans, players also mostly felt they were able to experience autonomy within the game.
Interestingly, the study found that players thought their gaming session was actually longer than it was, so parents might not be quite right when they say you’ve been gaming all day long.
While this would have been a very fun study to take part in, there are limitations to the data. Firstly, the small correlation between self-reported wellness and playtime doesn’t prove that gaming was the cause.
It also relied on a voluntary survey that had a lower response, and self-reported feelings of well-being can be quite subjective.
On the upside, the study included some really cute games; Animal Crossing in particular is well-known for its wholesome content (I know I teared up when the villagers threw me a birthday party!).
Maybe I’ll need to participate in a longer, more thorough Animal Crossing study to investigate further.
The study was published in The Royal Society Open Science.
Dr Deborah Devis is Cosmos’ resident D&D maestro.
Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.
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