Join the Discussion: How Playing Video Games May Benefit Mental Health
“Sea of Solitude” Launch Trailer – the video game has been used to support more open mental health discussions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Connection, community, stability – these are not the usual terms associated with video games. Yet a groundbreaking new study from Oxford Internet Institute (OII) found that playing video games may also be beneficial to mental health – particularly in the context of pandemic lockdowns and social gathering restrictions that have been a common feature in many countries over the past 18 months.  

The study looked at the relationship between real game time data (as opposed to self-reported data) and well-being, and the relationship between directly measured behaviour and subjective mental health. It also investigated the roles of player experiences, specifically how feelings of autonomy, relatedness, competence, enjoyment, and pressure to play were related to well-being. 

“Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a persons’ well-being. In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health,” said Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and lead author of the study.

Przybylski will be one of the experts appearing a public webinar panel this Thursday, 15 July, to discuss the issue of video games and well being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Video games associations across the globe have come together to host the virtual panel session.

“The pandemic highlighted not only the joy and comfort that games provide, but also their ability to deliver health and safety messages all over the world,” according to the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, which is hosting the event.

During the pandemic, the #PlayApartTogether initiative was one of many successful industry initiatives that used video games to help disseminate public health messaging – encouraging gameplayers to follow WHO’s health advice on Covid-19 prevention. Meanwhile, games like Sea of Solitude helped players confront loneliness and depression, encouraging open discussion about mental health issues with other household members.

Washington Post games reporter Gene Park will moderate the panel that will explore video gameplay behaviour during the pandemic, as well as probing the question of what “games for health” can look like.  The panel members include: 

  • Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research, Oxford Internet Institute will speak on the recent Oxford study
  • Cornelia Geppert, CEO/Writer/Art & Creative Director/Game Design, Jo-Mei Games will speak on the Sea of Solitude. You can find Guardian’s review of the game here.
  • Eduardo Mena, Research Director, Ipsos Mori will speak on the Q1/Q2 2020 video gameplay behaviour during lockdown report.

Anyone can register and join the conversation.


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