A villain or a good guy?  Playing video games can bring positive reflexes to mental health

A villain or a good guy? Playing video games can bring positive reflexes to mental health

A study from the University of Oxford points to a positive relationship between games and the psychological well-being of users; experts evaluate models and reserve

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Mental reflexes can vary depending on the dynamics, goals, and missions involved in each game

games from video game can be positive for mental health users. That is what the research conducted Oxford University, in the United Kingdom. In contrast to common sense, which shows concern about the impact of games on young people, in particular, a study published in November 2020. shows that there is little connection between the entertainment model and the mental well-being of the users, in addition to the favorable aspects for sociability. The research analyzed the reflection of games in the lives of three thousand adult players and it is understood that the model of cooperation proposed by games creates a “social context” that becomes a reasonable alternative to living in society, explains psychologist Louise Mafle, a doctor of psychology from PUC Minas and the University of Geneva. “We can understand that when there is some cooperation, and these are games that will not show much competition among users, it has benefits, because there is something outside the game, which goes socially. Within this universe, it enables contact, which brings benefits to mental health, ”explains Mafle.

In 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) even came out saying that “gaming disorder” is an addictive behavior and classified addiction as a disease. However, Oxford research shows the opposite scenario, with positive results for those involved, albeit preliminary. So, in fact, Are games good or bad for the player’s psyche? Among experts, it is estimated that there is no single answer to this question, because mental reflexes can vary in each dynamic, from the goals and missions involved in each phase and in each model of the game. There are games that contribute to sociability, with the cognitive and memory capacity of users, with spatial skills, teamwork, and even decision-making, which psychologists cite as alternative treatments, explains psychologist Vanessa Gebrim. “It contributes to sociability, it helps a lot in that sense and there are other factors in which video games help, but it is very serious to say that it helps mental health, because if you do not use them in moderation, it can be harmful. In extreme cases, it can become addictive, damage sleep and the body, creating fatigue and stress. ”

In addition, it is important to note that the study analyzed users of two games that are considered “social”: “Animal Crossing” by Nintendo and “Plants vs. Zombies ”by Electronic Arts, developed without any violent character, which minimizes possible negative impacts on the mental health of those involved. However, violent games tend to “desensitize a person from society” and the reflection in the study would be different. “One can catch that behavior [do jogo], in the process of social learning and in the desire to replicate it in society, which is very worrying “, points out psychologist Louise Mafle. In other words, Professor Andy Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, admits that the results of the research do not mean that “all video games are good” or “all players benefit”, but the data is considered a first step for science to understand the real the impact of games on mental health. “The discussion about video games is focused on the fear that a large part of gamers will become addicted, and our results challenge that view. [Eles] suggest that playing games can be an activity that has a positive effect on people’s mental health – and regulating games can retain these benefits.

If the results are positive for science, the ratings among game developers are also favorable. Rogério Felix, director of game training and development at ZION, the school for training game developers, emphasizes that games take on a “second proportion”, leaving the role of just fun and becoming platforms for simulation, training, immersion and socialization “. “I have no doubt that this will further strengthen the gaming market, because several ongoing studies prove it The ideal game, at the right time, performed in the right way and applied in the right way, can create great results. The biggest concern we need to take is knowing how to choose the game, the load this student will enjoy playing, also understanding the family culture“, Felix concludes.

Other side: Warning to children

Although the Oxford study points out that the use of adult games can bring benefits to users, experts warn that it is necessary to be aware children’s audience. Ana Macedo, a neuroscience and child development specialist at Projeto Pigme, explains that children’s reflexes can be the opposite. According to her, in early childhood, the use of screens should be zero, and games should focus on “motor, sound, cognitive and social skills of the child.” Among teenagers, there is concern about the release in the brain of “addictive substances responsible for activating the rapid gratification system”, which can lead a player to a false sense of predictability and control of the virtual world as opposed to the real world. which creates frustration. “The boundaries between fun and addiction are hard to define,” begins Ana Macedo, who points to the best games for free time. “Choose games that relate to language development or discovering the natural world. “These games would be more productive and would bring more solid and useful benefits for healthy development,” he added.

Another necessary attention, and one of the biggest concerns of families – and psychologists – is escapism, especially in adolescence. In other words, the practice of users using games as an “escape valve” from reality is a worrying situation, as it can limit the development of social skills and distance the individual from the family and the so-called “real world”. . “Every situation we put in as a solution to avoid social contacts and the challenges that arise are very worrying, because life in society constantly requires us to negotiate, adapt and create new skills. And hiding behind games can be a way to limit development. So, on the one hand, games can be positive, but if they are not moderate, they can do harm. There is no point in a person having virtual contact, but to stop doing other things during the day “, emphasizes psychologist Vanessa Gebrim.

Villain or good guy: How to rate?

According to experts, two points must be analyzed in order to assess whether the game is positive or negative for mental health: the style of play and the age of the player, explains psychologist Louise Mafle. “There are games that suggest sociability, there are games that suggest competition, other major individual skills, and that is what is important for society as a whole at all times. So, in every context, we will look at: does this competition force him to isolate himself from society? Is it an addictive game to keep a person trapped? How old is the person who uses the game? Are you a 7 year old child or a 14 year old teenager? Would it be a privilege for him to enter the game or a problem for sociability? So, these two things: how much the game was created to make the person more trapped in it, avoiding social contacts and how old the person is, then these developments are created better for society. ”

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