A new study has found that people who play video games for long periods of time tend to feel happier.

Well, what a big statement. We know some of you are cringing in disbelief, wondering how it could be. But hear us out.

The study in question was conducted by the University of Oxford, focusing solely on Nintendo’s Animal Crossing and Plants vs. Zombies: Battle of Neighborville. A total of 3,274 gamers participated in the study, all of whom are over 18 years old.

This study is considered a breakthrough, for it relies on actual gameplay data from the developers, unlike previous studies that relied on a player’s own estimation of how much they play. By connecting play-time data provided by Nintendo and EA to the surveys answered by the participants, researchers found that those who played more games had a greater tendency to report better well-being. The finding calls into question past studies claiming that video games are not good for one’s mental health.

Through access to data on peoples’ playing time, for the first time we’ve been able to investigate the relation between actual gameplay behavior and subjective well-being, enabling us to deliver a template for crafting high-quality evidence to support health policymakers,” said Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, and the lead author of the study.

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 – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players,” he added.

However, it should be noted that the games used in the study have social features that allow players to interact and connect with others through play. The study suggests that these features may have contributed to the participants’ happiness. It also suggests that players who experience genuine enjoyment from gaming are more likely to feel its positive impact on their wellbeing; those who play games as a form of escape from real life tend to feel less content.

Related: Among Us tops list of 2020’s most stressful games

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