Popular narratives suggest video games are a violent, addictive and dangerous form of entertainment, while the many positive effects are blatantly ignored.
Just turn on a morning TV program and you’re likely to see ‘experts’ complaining about Fortnite corrupting children, Call of Duty creating a race of apathetic lunatics and how Candy Crush is causing too many finger injuries.
For gamers, these ideas are as ridiculous as Blizzard’s announcement of a Diablo mobile game, but for parents and outsiders, these stories often drown out the more nuanced truth about video games.
New research published in the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association’s Digital Report 2018 and undertaken by Professor Jeffrey Brand of Bond University revealed that of the 67 per cent of Australians that play video games – over 16 million people – 76 per cent identify mental health as the top benefit of playing.
Professor Brand has found that immersive, peaceful games like Minecraft, Stardew Valley and Flower can provide players significant cognitive and sensory benefits by providing relief from the stressful modern world.
One such game is Farming Simulator 19, a realistic simulation of farm life – minus the hard labour.
“The frenetic, always-on pace of modern life can leave us feeling disconnected from life’s simpler pleasures, such as the relative peace of the countryside,” said Professor Bond.
“Games that simulate the real world, such as Farming Simulator 19, can have significant cognitive and sensory benefits – slowing players down and immersing them in tasks and scenarios that are familiar and relaxing, but wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to them today.”
Findings in the report highlight the mindful impact gaming has on Australians:
- 84% feel that gaming improves their thinking skills
- 74% feel a positive impact from gaming on their emotional well-being
- 70% agree that gaming helps them reduce their anxiety
- 75% state that gaming improves life satisfaction
The research focuses on individual feeling rather than empirical data, but when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, it is often individual perception which effects the end result.