Correlations Between Gaming and Improvements in Mental Health

The rise in gaming has reached unprecedented levels in 2020 due in part to the Covid19 pandemic. Existing research about the effects of video games on the human psyche has been brought into question. Depending on your perspective, it is just as easy to find studies damning the consequences of gaming as it is to find research extolling the positive impact of gaming on our mental health and praising the ability of games to institute an entirely new methodology in the deliverance of educational material.

This article will address three documented examples that assert gaming has been correlated with positive effects on the mental health and cognition of the subjects studied.

November 16th, 2019: in an Oxford Internet Institute publication, a population of just under 3,000 people were surveyed in order to determine the overall sentiment of pre and post gameplay. The game used to conduct the study was Animal Crossing, and unlike other studies which linked gameplay to increased aggression and antisocial behavior, the results from this paper indicated a rise in overall well-being after the fact.

Video Games: Stress Reduction & Positive Well-Being

Stress is a natural part of human psychology. It occurs as a result of the release of cortisol and noradrenaline when one is faced with unfamiliar, worrisome or threatening situations. I won’t delve too much into the respective neuropsychology in this article, but rather reference the fact that most people participate in a ritual of sorts which relieves them of their stress.

For example, some people could binge on their favorite television shows, others may obsessively check in with their friends on social media, or turn to playing video games.

Specifically, moderate gameplay has been associated with a noticeable improvement in the mood and modulation of mental health. Furthermore, new research indicates that simply put, those in a better mood, also associate game play with feelings of relaxation and stress reduction.

Video Games: Purpose – Achievement – Accomplishment

Regardless of the interests or career prospects you may have, feeling a sense of accomplishment in your life can provide a significant level of fulfillment, motivation and satisfaction.

Dopamine is both a hormone and neurotransmitter that your body uses as a chemical messenger that is responsible for the feeling of ‘reward’ when one accomplishes anything necessary to their survival.

Simple things like drinking a glass of water or engaging in social activity will raise one’s dopamine levels, producing a sense of contentment. Similarly, accomplishing a set goal, overcoming a challenge, or exceeding a personal benchmark (essential elements of any contemporary video game) provide this sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Video Games: Outlet For Social Engagement

The third and final category that I would like to discuss in this examination of the positive effects of video games on human behavior is probably the most timely. Incent spans a global audience in excess of 250,000 people and continues to grow exponentially week on week.

Simultaneously worldwide lockdowns due to the widespread coronavirus has left millions of people restricted when and with whom they are allowed to socialize. Many developed countries have yet to open schools in addition to disallowing groups larger than 20 to mingle.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to people of all ages looking for connection within the communities of their favorite video games, as a means of maintaining friendships which they otherwise would find themselves limited in doing.

That’s not to say that socializing online with strangers in the context of video games or otherwise is without its risks. There are many studies discussing topics that deserve further exploration like, Internet Gaming Disorder, and different types of antisocial behaviour certain individuals experience or proliferate online.

Platforms like Incent, which encourage content creators and consumers alike to connect and interact while being monetarily rewarded for their engagement provide a unique opportunity for the positive development of healthy mental behaviours in gamers.

Conclusion

While there are indisputable risks with excessive gameplay, emergent research indicates that there are strong correlations, if not direct causation between moderate game use and improvements in mental health, linked directly to aspects of the human condition requiring socializing, senses of accomplishment, and stress relief.

Incent promotes the well-being of all gamers and users of our service. We encourage anybody who feels like their consumption of digital games is becoming excessive or negatively impacting other aspects of their life to reach out and ask for help.

Eric Azizian

Eric Azizian

Eric is Marketing Manager and Growth-hacker at Incent, leading growth hacking initiatives and helping to steer company-wide marketing direction and growth objectives.