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Study: Games Contribute To Mental "Wellness"

See? We all knew there were plenty of positive aspects to gaming, and over the past few years, we've started to receive some vindication from the guys in white coats (no, not those guys). Researchers have compiled a set of reports in the January issue of Motivation and Emotion, and said reports examined "what motivated 1,000 gamers to keep playing videogames."

Heck, they should've asked us; we could've answered that question without a problem. But of course, they required a scientific approach and scientific results. Stick-in-the-muds.

Anyway, this study separated those thousand gamers into four different groups, with each group playing different games. Before and after they indulged in their favorite hobby, they were required to answer questionnaires. These little forms were designed to look at "underlying motives and satisfactions that can spark players' interests and sustain them during play."

One of the first things these researchers noticed - hold your breath, now - is that "games can provide opportunities for achievement, freedom and even a connection to other players. Those benefits trumped a shallow sense of fun, which doesn't keep gamers as interested." Of course, we're not entirely sure what the operational definition of "shallow fun" is, but the statement certainly makes a great deal of sense. Then again, they don't correlate to the typical casual gamer, who basically sits down and plays for an hour here and there during the week. But hey, those thousand participants probably weren't what we'd call "casual" gamers.

Lead researcher Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, has this to say about the appeal of video games, according to the study's results:

"It's our contention that the psychological 'pull' of games is largely due to their capacity to engender feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness."

Ryan even believes all this can positively impact "psychological wellness," although he did add the caveat that it would only be "short-term." Yeah, well, if the hobby continues, doesn't that mean we're continually exposed to positive impacts on our "psychological wellness"...?

1/17/2007 Ben Dutka

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