The Oxford Internet Institute Research recently conducted a study which suggested that extended periods of gaming tends to make people happy and is good for their well being. The study focused on two games Nintendo's Animal Crossing and EA's Plants vs Zombies.
The developers of the game that were part of the study shared anonymised data about how long each participant had played. This data was then linked to a survey in which the players answered questions about their well-being.
A sum total of 3274 gamers took part in the survey where all were over 18.
The findings of the study were surprising
Nintendo and EA provided data on playing times in Plant vs Zombies and Animal Crossing respectively. In addition, EA also provided data about in-game performance within Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. This included achievements, and the emoticons the participants had used to express themselves.
The gamers were also asked how they felt about their experiences. Prof Andrew Przybylski, who led the study, said he was amazed by the results.
"If you play Animal Crossing for four hours a day, every single day, you're likely to say you feel significantly happier than someone who doesn't," he said. "That doesn't mean Animal Crossing by itself makes you happy."
He added, 40 years of previous research had pointed out the fact that the longer people played, the more unhappy they said they were.
The study suggested one reason for the surprising results that both of these games had socializing features, in which players intercated with other humans who controlled characters in the game.
"I don't think people plow a bunch of time into games with a social aspect unless they're happy about it," he said. He added, "It's like a digital water-cooler and the titles both provide new ways to mingle with others online."
However, those who were playing the game to get away from everyday stress in their lives had reported being less happy.