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Animal Crossing: New Horizons won’t hurt or help your mental health

People's mental health isn't being hurt by video games. A new study shows that they don't do much to move the needle.

The potential for video games to be addictive or harm mental health has been raised by policymakers and public health bodies for years. The study looked at the relationship between video games and well-being. Previous research from the same team found no effects on mental health.

The research team worked with video game publishers to find people who played one of seven games. The researchers surveyed participants three times after the game publishers gave them game play data.

The team was able to get a more accurate read on gaming time because they didn't have to rely on the player's self reporting. The scale of positive and negative experiences is one of the tools used to measure well-being.

The study asked people to take the Player Experience of Need Satisfaction survey, which tracked things like their perception of independence and their motivation to play the game.

Spending more or less time playing games doesn't have a negative impact on how people feel. The amount of time people spent gaming was not influenced by how people felt.

The role video games play in skewing well-being was too small to have an impact on how people feel in the real world. The study found that people would have to play games for 10 more hours per day than they were used to.

The study found that people's motivation to play games and their experience playing them had a bigger effect on their well-being. The well-being of people who played games because they wanted to was better than the well-being of people who played games because they wanted to. It is not clear if those motives would have a noticeable impact on players.

There is still more to be learned about how video games affect people. The analysis only looked at a small number of games. The quality of the game and the motivation to play it need to be examined by researchers. They have to figure out if certain people have characteristics that make them more or less vulnerable to shifts in well-being.

Andrew Przybylski, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, is the study author.