More than fun: global video game survey reveals mental health and social benefits

A new global survey highlights the positive role video games play in mental health and social connection.

A majority of the 12,847 players surveyed across 12 countries say video games help reduce stress (71%), anxiety (61%) and feelings of isolation (55%). The findings are published in the Power of Play report.

Most also say video games provide them with a healthy outlet (64%), make them feel happier (63%) and help them navigate difficult times (52%).

Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association in Australia tells Cosmos: “Outside of the joy of play, the things that the survey pointed out to us was the mental health benefits, how [games were] used for community building, and that life skills can come out of playing games.”

Players value the social aspects of the pastime. Two thirds (67%) say video games introduce them to new friendships and relationships (67%), involve positive experiences meeting new people (53%) and form lasting memories (50%).

“We know we’re in a loneliness epidemic at the moment,” says Curry. “And when you when you consider around two thirds of people say that they’ve met new friends or perhaps even started a relationship through video games. That to me is a really powerful statement.” 

The survey was undertaken by video game industry associations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

Country-by-country results reveal the common experience of players, with many of the reported benefits of video games shared globally.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, players report ‘having fun’ is their top reason for playing video games. This was the case in all countries, except for Italy where the number one reason was to ‘pass the time’.

Curry says it’s important to affirm the significance of play and having fun. “We know play builds connections, that’s how communities are built, and we know when we’re teaching kids play-based learning is what it’s all about.”

Globally players say video games help them with skills such as improving their creativity (73%), problem solving (69%), cognitive skills (69%) and teamwork (69%).

On almost every measure, Australian responses were stronger than the global average. For example, globally, 52% of players say video games help them through difficult times, compared to 62% of Australian respondents. Globally 63% say video games make them feel happier, compared to 71% in Australia. 

The report also highlights a range of research into the effect of video games on mental health, social connection and broader benefits.

Subscribe to our quarterly print magazine

Please login to favourite this article.