Research On Video Games And Mental Health
For this report, researchers from Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, looked at earlier studies to see whether commercial video games could fill in existing gaps in mental health treatment, particularly for depression and anxiety.
The research found evidence that video games could help alleviate symptoms of depression, such as the loss of pleasure. The video games Minecraft and Animal Crossing: New Horizons also fostered social connectedness and reduced loneliness.
The Quiet Revolution Of Animal Crossing
In the midst of a pandemic, its delightful to imagine doing whatever you like without worrying about making a living.
Many years ago, when my son was 5, he got upside down on a long-term loan in Animal Crossing, Nintendos 2002 video game about running away from home to lead a prosaic life in an adorable animal village. The problem was familiar, although perhaps not to a kindergartner: He had spent his income on the trappings of consumer lifefurniture, garments, accessories, even video games. But now he had no room for all that stuff, he explained to me. He also had no cash to pay off the mortgage, which the local real-estate tycoon, a raccoon named Tom Nook, had forced him to take out upon arrival. Until the note was paid, my son reasoned, he wouldnt be able to take out another loanto fund a home expansion that would finally make room for all his purchases. What should I do? he asked.
For years, I spun this story as an example of games special ability to teach complexity. What the hell kind of video game consigns you to a mortgage when you boot it up? But Animal Crossing had taught my young son about the trap of long-term debt before he ever had a bank account.
Instead, Animal Crossing is a political hypothesis about how a different kind of world might workone with no losers. Millions of people already have spent hours in the game stewing on that idea since the coronavirus crisis began.
Does Animal Crossing Help With Mental Health
Animal Crossing offers an opportunity for players to engage in uplifting, mindful tasks while also providing a safe space for the player, this positive feedback enhanced by the routine behaviour it encourages. Routine provides the players with the psychological benefits of safety, confidence and well-being.
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The Opposite Of Play Is Depression
If youre thinking that this is turning into a combination of therapy and Psych 101 youre right. The way many of us feel about and play games can actually highlight some of the issues we have emotionally and mentally, and help us work through them, too.
Give yourself permission to miss some things
Personally, it’s been a really good exercise in trying to quell my own impulsivity, says Dr B, who has his own bugbears in the game. I do not know why I can’t get the bloody spider.
But you dont have to be Working On Yourself to make your game time worthy, either. A lot of my own guilt and anxiety about playing Animal Crossing comes from feeling like Im being unproductive or wasting time which Dr Kowert simply describes as capitalism but the two doctors introduce a novel concept to me .
Fun for the sake of fun is okay, says Dr B. He laughs when I tell him that I feel like I should be doing something grown-up instead, like tax returns. Oh god, youre allowed to do what you want with your free time, okay? Its strange to hear, because of course its fine to use your free time as you please but its hard to do in practice.
Can A 5 Year Old Play Minecraft
Because of its complexity, potential for mild violence, and online community, we recommend Minecraft for kids age 8 and up. If you have younger kids who want to play but arent quite ready, you have options. These Minecraft alternatives can occupy them with a very similar style, without some of the tougher stuff.
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Depression Expert Video Game Novice
I had never heard of Animal Crossing before the day my husband excitedly told me how much I would love it. A new title in the series was set to release soon, and he urged me to get it. I had never really played many video games. My family had a Super Nintendo in the 90s, and my older brother would occasionally pass off a controller for Mario Kart. But I was terrible, could never quite manage to stay on the track. Little did I know, it would prove to be an apt metaphor for my mental health as I grew older.
By the time I was in fifth grade, my hands were too atrophied from Charcot Marie Tooth to use a pair of scissors, let alone maneuver a controller. Video games were just not for me, I decided. It was another club I couldnt be a part of. Add it to the list of sports, gym class, class camping trips, dance, and all the other activities my body just couldnt do.
Health Risks Of A Sedentary Lifestyle
It’s more important than ever to stay active especially during these WFH times. |
Sedentary behaviour is described as any activity involving sitting, reclining or lying down that doesnt use up much energy at all. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is increasingly becoming a significant public health issue, as it is linked to a range of chronic health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
Most people living a sedentary lifestyle are unlikely to meet the optimum health target of getting at least half an hour a day of moderate-intensity physical activity.
Here are some of the health risks associated with leading a sedentary lifestyle:
1. Cardiovascular disease
Even after researchers account for smoking, alcohol and a poor diet, studies show that physically active people are less likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who are inactive. Muscles get weak over time with inactivity, making it more difficult to do something physical, which then ironically further causes a sedentary lifestyle.
Your heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to stay healthy, too. Physical inactivity increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and poor circulation, potentially leading to high blood pressure, stroke and even a heart attack.
2. Lower metabolism
3. Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Taking regular breaks to stand up and move around , can help stabilise blood sugar levels after meals.
4. Chronic lower back pain
5. Decrease in bone mass and higher risk for falls
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What’s So Great About Animal Crossing
“Animal Crossing” is all about socializing. Players can forge friendships with the villagers who come to live on their island. In fact, this is encouraged as players are rewarded for becoming best friends with their villagers. The game is also enriched by visiting the islands of your real-life friends.
‘animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Is Great For Your Mental Health Through Covid
If you own a Nintendo Switch, there’s a good chance you’ve spent much of the week immersed in a world of nature, creation and Tom Nook announcements. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released on Friday, which seemed to be perfect timing, considering the fact that so many people are self-isolating at home because of the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Pretty much immediately, players started to rejoice at the game’s “therapeutic” qualities, which seem to be helping many people tune out the COVID-19 news and retreat to a much happier, safer island of their own design. And according to some mental health professionals, diving into the game is a great idea because of its loose narrative and slow-paced activities that can be compared to mindfulness.
I just played three straight hours of Animal Crossing you call it ridiculous I call it theraputic
playing the new animal crossing game for hours on end has been truly theraputic!! my eyes are burning but my heart is full!!!!
#WhyIPlay Animal Crossing is because it’s a great way to escape from the troubles of the waking world and be able to relax in an environment that always welcomes me and makes me feel in control of my life. The music is theraputic as well.
“When we’re in this pandemic, there’s a lot of uncertainty and not much to do, the brain can kind of wreak havoc,” she said. “We like giving it something to do.”
Commercial Video Games Vs Therapy Games
Overall, the researchers found that commercial video games are as effective at providing mental health benefits as bespoke video games designed for therapeutic effects. This may be explained, at least in part, by peoples desire to play commercial video games.
The problem with bespoke video games is that they generally arent really games. When you are told to click things on a screen to improve your mental health, that is also not a gameit is a therapy, says Platt.
He continues: A critical quality of a gamewhat makes it a gameis that it is played voluntarily. Research has repeatedly validated the importance of intrinsic motivation for effective behavior change, which is what leads us to the critical insight from this article: that people play commercial video games because they want to. And as such, the beneficial aspects of these games are bestowed as a byproduct of their fun and not the outcome of their game homework.
A Sense Of Purpose Can Keep Us Going
On the surface, Animal Crossings appeal may not be immediately apparent to those who havent played it.
Collecting resources to build pretend furniture for a make-believe island doesnt exactly scream thrilling adventure ahead. Its deceptively simple.
How does a game so unassuming manage to captivate people without becoming tedious?
For one, the game relies on goal-directed behavior, giving players tasks to complete to build up the reputation and community on the island. This makes the tedium of building a bridge feel more meaningful, because it connects to a larger, more important purpose and story.
Purpose is actually the subject of a lot of research in the field of psychology. Having a life that feels meaningful or useful has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and
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The Unbearable Lightness Of Animal Crossing
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In the summer of 2016, Abdullah Naser, a 17-year-old student in Ontario, Canada, was suffering from what he later recognized as an episode of crippling depression.
My mood was constantly down, Naser, who posts YouTube videos about games and gaming, told me recently. I didnt want to go outside or interact with people, and the smallest inconveniences or setbacks during the day would send me spiraling with negative thoughts. I completely lacked the motivation or drive to set a daily routine for myself.
Confining himself largely to his bedroom, he spent the only energy he could summon playing his Nintendo 3DS. It didnt make him feel any less miserable, but it filled the hours.
Animal Crossing has recently gone what, in a less awful time, we might have called viral.
Released on Friday, March 20, after weeks of fans clamoring unsuccessfully for an early release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold a record-shattering 1.88 million physical copies in Japan in its opening weekend, the biggest-ever launch for a title on the Nintendo Switch console. Stateside, it has become a genuine crossover phenomenon: social media-clogging fan art and memes, headlines in The New York Times and CNN, big-name fans that include Lil Nas X and Brie Larson , and everyone from the Museum of English Rural Life and Wendys joining the fun.
Major Surgery Major Depression
In February 2020, I went under the knife for a TTC ankle fusion. It was the last stop at the end of a long road of ankle pain, caused by my foot turning inward. Just a few weeks into recovery, COVID-19 began its rapid fire spread across the United States. I hadnt exactly expected to be a social butterfly during my recovery. But recovering during a pandemic was the most isolating experience of my life.
There was only one thing I was looking forward to. After seven years, a new Animal Crossing title was set to release on March 20, 2020. I could think of no better way to spend my countless hours in bed than with a brand new village to start. Only this time, it was an island. I watched every new game trailer that dropped, eagerly parsing each frame for information. It seemed that New Horizons had even more to offer than its predecessor. I would be able to completely customize outdoor spaces with furniture, craft materials, and terraform my entire island to my liking. The possibilities seemed endless. And possibilities were exactly what my brain needed.
I had been in bed for four weeks. The depression-fighting patterns, engrained since New Leaf, had nowhere to assert themselves as I laid there in anguish, the days impossibly long, depression opening its jaws to swallow me whole. I knew that having things to accomplish, even in a virtual world, would satisfy that part of my brain that longed to feel useful.
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Games Like Animal Crossing Are Good For Your Mental Health Claims Oxford University Study
A new study conducted by Oxford University claims that video games are good for your mental wellbeing.
The groundbreaking study, which was undertaken in collaboration with academics at the university working with true gameplay data for the very first time, focused on people playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville.
While previous studies focused on often inaccurate play-time data supplied by the players themselves, this new study was one of the first to take advantage of actual play-time data the team at Oxford University was able to connect the questionnaires completed by those taking part with actual play-time records.
The report reads:
Contrary to many fears that excessive game time will lead to addiction and poor mental health, we found a small positive relation between gameplay and well-being.
Overall, our findings suggest that regulating video games, on the basis of time, might not bring the benefits many might expect, though the correlational nature of the data limits that conclusion.
Andrew Przybylski, the lead researcher on the project, states that prior to the study taking place, he was shocked at how little data gaming firms had on the people who play their products. He was also concerned about the fact that hard data didn’t seem to factor into previous studies done on the effects of gaming on people.
Keeping Things Simple Is How We Get Things Done
I can get into a pretty deep hyperfocus on Animal Crossing. This really intrigued me, especially as someone with ADHD, who tends to struggle with concentration even on a good day.
In addition to all the novelty the game provides , I realized that my increased focus might not be so coincidental: by picking up my Nintendo Switch, I was putting down literally everything else.
Theres plenty of evidence to suggest that human brains arent wired to multitask. We greatly cut down on our productivity and focus when we repeatedly switch between tasks.
Animal Crossing became a really unique reminder for why simplicity and a one-task-at-a-time approach can work with our brains, rather than against them.
The game doesnt overload you with goals, and it encourages players to tackle tasks one by one, incentivizing each project and limiting gameplay to keep you on track.
Its also not the kind of game that you can play effectively if you keep checking your iPhone.
Gamification is also an important component of motivation. Simple, reward-driven behaviors can help us catch that jet stream of focused attention. In other words, if we can emulate what keeps us engaged in a video game, our work lives could become a lot more productive, too.
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The Benefits Of Commercial Video Games For Symptoms Of Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are often comorbid disorders . Consequently, exploring the potential of commercial video games to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety is also needed. Anxiety disorders can cause significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, and other areas of an individualâs functioning . Separation anxiety, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorders, anxiety-specific phobias, and panic attacks are some of the subclassifications of anxiety disorders . Anxiety disorders are also associated with difficulty concentrating during work and play, and they can lead to excessive fear of negative evaluation. Different frameworks indicate anxious apprehension and automatic preparatory behavior as key components of anxiety .
What About Poor Games Journalists Though
But, well some of us dont have those healthy boundaries. Streamers, YouTubers, influencers and video game journalists who work at Nintendo-focused publications get paid to play games. Im currently supposed to be playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons to death so I can write guides for it, which makes my free time playing the game feel a lot like work. How do people like me create a barrier between work play, and play play?
It’s a strange thing when you get to do what you love for a living
It’s a strange thing when you get to do what you love for a living, admits Dr B, whose job it is to play a lot of video games, too. Something that you previously had an internal motivator to do purely for the sake of fun you now have these extrinsic motivators and rewards for doing it. That makes it a lot harder to know when youre having fun, he says.
You might be thinking, This doesnt apply to me! Im just a person with a regular job! but a lot of us are currently working from home. That means that our office is our living room is our kitchen, and so on. Were all basically playing games just metres away from our desks, and whether you notice it or not, it can really affect the way you feel about your free time.
Play how you want to play, and dont mind what other people are doing
Dr Kowert compares this to a sign she once saw in Las Vegas, aimed at gamblers. When the fun stops, it says, STOP.
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