According to a new study published by WePC, gaming has a positive effect on mental health – contrary to the stereotypical view of antisocial gamers locked in their room alone for hours on end.
Facts & figures about gaming and mental health
Most people surveyed spend between 1 and 10 hours gaming per week and 92% stated that playing video games has no negative effect on their mental health. What’s more, 37% say that it has a positive impact.
What do the ‘experts’ say about gaming and mental health?
According to organisations such as the World Health Organisation, gamers are at increased risk of developing mental health issues such as heightened anxiety, violent behaviour, and gaming addiction.
But the survey found only 7.82% of people surveyed believe it negatively affects their mental health.
What do gamers say about the impact of gaming on their mental health?
One gamer described her hobby as “a coping mechanism for the debilitating effects of living with OCD” whilst another claimed, “it’s a way to be involved in interactive entertainment in the new socially distanced world.”
And it seems gaming has become a new form of escapism too, with 46% of respondents citing gaming as a useful distraction from the pressures of everyday life during lockdown.
Former soldier Rudi Benjamin, 51, of New York, has been a gamer since the age of eight. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and finds gaming helps his condition.
“When I’m at my lowest point gaming is what gets me through,” he said. “I can get quite frustrated at times and gaming helps relieve the pressure on me and my family. It’s been a big escape for me during the pandemic.”
It’s time to get rid of the stigmas surrounding gaming
Craig Kirkcaldy, Co-founder of WePC said, “This survey challenges the negative perceptions of gaming and removes some of the stigmas gamers face. There’s a false perception that all forms of gaming are bad for mental health, but the reality is that it only becomes an issue when excessive in nature.”
Will Blears, Co-founder added: “Like with anything, if you over-indulge then you’re bound to experience negative side effects. Over-indulgence in gaming is usually a solution to an existing problem, not the cause of the problem itself.”
Are there any benefits to gaming?
Craig said, “We know that gaming has many benefits, from increased cognitive skills to enhanced performance at work, but the positive impact on mental health is something we really want to bring to light.”
How is the game market changing?
The global video game market is forecast to be worth $164.6 billion by the end of 2020 – up from $152 billion in 2019.
Many say isolation lockdown during the Covid-19 global pandemic has fuelled this increase in gaming.
A report by Ipsos found individuals were driven toward playing multiplayer games in order to meet like-minded people and boost mental wellbeing.
However, a huge 79% of those surveyed by WePC in September said they were more likely to play single-player games than multiplayer games. Those regularly playing single player games were more than twice as likely to experience a positive mental health benefit.
In fact, only 3% of respondents overall answered yes to playing games to meet like-minded people.
Cognitive function is also said to be improved by gaming with 29% of respondents saying they played games to keep mentally active.
Despite the positive results, it seems there is still a long way to go before perceptions are completely transformed, even in gamers themselves.
Those respondents (53%) who believed there are negative perceptions in the media were 87% more likely to report a negative impact on their mental health compared to those who think there is no negative perception in the media (47% of respondents).
This poses the question as to whether it is, in fact, mind over matter.
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