Have you ever thought about how you feel when you’re playing games, or how your feelings affect what you play and how you play? What about which games leave you feeling good, and which leave you feeling worse? You might be surprised by your answers.
We challenged 24 UK players, aged 18 to 60 to track their gameplay and their mental wellbeing over three weeks, and what we found surprised us (and them)!
Players told us games have lots of positives for their mental wellbeing. It helped them manage worry or anxiety, to de-stress and relax, and to connect with others (both in-person and online). It also provided an outlet for creative expression and healthy escape.
But players also told us about some downsides, like harmful behaviour from other players online, feelings of frustration or anger, and sometimes, feeling like games interfered with other priorities. When players described these downsides, one common feeling was a lack of control. For example, playing for longer than planned, or playing “on autopilot” without knowing why.
While initially, players didn’t make the connection between video games and their mental wellbeing, through tracking how they feel when they play, they became more aware of the link between video games and their mood, which helped them make the absolute best of gaming for their mental wellbeing.
Try our gaming log for yourself
Each time you play a game this week, record a bit about your gameplay, using the questions on our gaming log as prompts. Try this for 1 month and then review it to see if you spot any patterns.
This is just a start point – feel free to change the questions and get as creative as you like – the most important thing is to stay curious and see what you learn about yourself! It could be the first step toward making the best of games for your mental wellbeing.
Gaming and mental health
Using funding from Jingle Jam, we conducted an exciting new study exploring the link between video games and mental wellbeing. Find out more about our gaming and mental health research.