Mind Gaming: Exploring Player’s Mental Wellbeing Experience
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Gamers, unite! We embarked on a fascinating journey, delving into the intricate relationship between video games and mental wellbeing. A diverse group of 24 players from the UK, spanning various ages and gaming platforms, were enlisted to keep an audio-visual “gaming log.”
Over three immersive weeks, these dedicated gamers shared tantalizing clips, providing insights into their thoughts and emotions before, during, and after playing their favorite games. Additionally, they candidly answered questions about their gaming experiences. These valuable recordings painted a vivid picture of the players’ mental states, allowing us to identify intriguing patterns and themes.
Before we dive into the findings, it’s important to note that our study doesn’t establish a causal relationship between gaming and wellbeing. However, it provides valuable insights into how players perceive their own mental health in relation to gaming and the diverse roles that gaming plays in their lives.
Unveiling the Key Findings
People Unaware of the Link between Gaming and Mental Wellbeing
Surprisingly, participants in our study didn’t consciously associate gaming with their mental wellbeing. It became evident that raising awareness is the first step towards unlocking the potential benefits of gaming on mental health.
Active Reflection as a Catalyst for Change
Through our “gaming log” approach, players began actively reflecting on their gaming behaviors and their impact on their mental wellbeing. This newfound awareness opened doors to better understanding the intricate connections between gaming and mental health.
Limited Public Interest in Gaming and Mental Wellbeing
Curious about societal conversations, we delved into online search trends and communities on platforms such as Google, Twitter, and Reddit. Disappointingly, there was a lack of enthusiastic discourse surrounding gaming and mental wellbeing among the general public. It highlighted the need to foster more meaningful discussions and generate awareness.
Players Seek Support from the Games Industry
Participants expressed a desire for the games industry to take a proactive role in supporting players’ wellbeing. They firmly believe that gaming companies can contribute significantly to the overall mental health of their customers.
Exploring the Benefits and Challenges of Gaming
1. Vital Social Connection vs. Harmful Behavior
While gaming offers a unique opportunity for social connection, players acknowledged that harmful behavior within the gaming community can be detrimental to their mental health. Creating a safe and inclusive environment is crucial.
2. Meaningful Representation: A Pathway to Wellbeing
Surprisingly, players found that meaningful representation of diverse ethnicities, nationalities, genders, and sexualities in games had a profound impact on their mental wellbeing. It highlighted the power of inclusivity in fostering positive gaming experiences.
3. Gaming: An Escape from Stress and Worries
Regardless of their mental health needs, all players turned to gaming as a reliable source of stress relief and a distraction from everyday worries. Games provided a welcome respite from the challenges of daily life.
4. The Dual Nature of Escapism
Players relished in the immersive and escapist qualities of gaming. However, this escape sometimes led to a loss of control over their gaming habits, contributing to negative self-perception. Striking a balance is essential.
5. Redefining Excessive Play
Participants commonly reported that prolonged gaming sessions had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing. Recognizing the signs of excessive play can help players maintain a healthy relationship with gaming.
6. The Power of Reflection and Intention
Prompted self-reflection allowed players to develop a more intentional approach to gaming, positively influencing their mental wellbeing. Taking a moment to reflect on their gaming habits proved to be a transformative experience.
7. Playfulness and Overcoming Societal Stigma
Games hold a special place in the hearts of adults, evoking warm feelings and cherished memories. However, societal guilt and stigma can hinder the enjoyment of gaming. Embracing playfulness is vital to fostering mental wellbeing.
Promoting Mental Wellbeing in Gaming
Players discovered a range of strategies to manage their mental wellbeing while gaming. These strategies mirror general digital wellbeing techniques and provide a roadmap for healthy gaming practices. Furthermore, games can serve as powerful tools for educating players about mental health.
There are three avenues for supporting players’ mental wellbeing:
1. Player-led Solutions
By encouraging players to actively reflect on their gaming experiences and mental health, we can promote greater awareness and prompt self-reflection. Players who consciously monitor their gaming habits can make informed decisions that positively impact their overall wellbeing.
2. Games Industry-led Solutions
The games industry possesses immense potential to make a significant impact on players’ mental wellbeing. By incorporating mental health support and resources within games, companies can create a safe and supportive gaming environment.
3. Mental Health Sector-led Solutions
While gaming can have positive effects on mental health, it’s crucial to acknowledge that it does not substitute for accessible and well-funded mental health support. Players with existing mental health concerns emphasized the need for additional support from established mental health and public health channels.
Players’ Recommendations to the Games Industry
Players highlighted five crucial topics that game developers should prioritize to enhance players’ mental wellbeing:
- Meaningful representation and inclusive gaming.
- Combating harmful and abusive player behavior within communities.
- Increasing awareness of the relationship between mental health and gaming.
- Integrating mental health support and resources directly into games.
- Assisting players in recognizing and avoiding unhealthy gaming habits.
Gaming and Mental Health: A Journey of Discovery
Thanks to the generous funding from Jingle Jam, our groundbreaking study has shed light on the complex interplay between video games and mental wellbeing. If you’re seeking more information or eager to delve deeper into our work, we invite you to explore our captivating findings surrounding gaming and mental health.
Remember, gaming isn’t just about leveling up and epic battles – it’s a realm where mental wellbeing and personal growth intertwine. Let’s continue the conversation and unlock the immense potential that lies within the world of gaming.