Playing video games makes you happy, say scientists working with EA and Nintendo

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I find that a few minutes with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 does wonders for my outlook.

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They didn’t pay for it, but they did provide telemetry data for the participants. It’s up to us to decide whether that let them thumb the scale or otherwise influence the outcome.


Ah. I see.

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Anyone ever bite a video game controller?

can confirm.

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Given the…limited…number of alternative sources of telemetry data(at least for games high enough on the food chain/gamer classism rankings that 6 different ad networks can’t be consulted); that might be even more compromising in some respects(not speaking specifically about these researchers or this study; but for the general purposes of video game studying).

Access to telemetry data, or not, is pretty much the difference between “pre-packaged for convenience of whoever on the team is least intimidated by data analysis” and “having to try to get people to accurately self-report, like savages”.

Obviously if someone is making a career of being the celebrity games-are-good-for-you-scientist money will need to be involved at some point; but in terms of what you could offer a desperately overworked junior researcher to aid their journey from ‘hypothesis’ to ‘publication ready’, neatly codified play telemetry is likely to be extraordinarily useful stuff.

(edit: it is also, notably, something that, aside from journaling and self-reporting, even the research subject generally can’t provide for you: games are…rarely chatty… about what they are actually watching, don’t have a mechanism(short of some sort of data protection demand in a sympathetic EU jurisdiction or similar) for requesting your own file or delegating access to it; and cheating and piracy considerations make a lot of games pretty twitchy about other software looking too closely at them while they run(even on PCs where that’s even a thing, consoles don’t provide that mechanism at all if they can avoid it). Unless it’s for sale, probably in ‘anonymized’ format, from some data broker or other it’s something you are not getting your hands on without the gracious cooperation of a given company or publisher’s data analysis people.)



‘Video games making you happy’… that’s not the outcome in our household with our 12 year old. After WAY too much such screen time, pulling him off, peeling him off, does not make for any happiness for anyone.

Even when I get done killing a few hours on the PS4, I come off it with what I would not classify as being a happy feeling. It’s more of a just-woke-up feeling, walking around like I’ve missed part of the day from a long and deep nap, wondering what I’ve missed, what’s been happening. It honestly doesn’t feel that good.

Note: I did not read the paper nor click through any links. Just relating my experiences of observing another person, and my own.


“Two rather significant caveats: “This work has not been peer reviewed and is subject to change” and “we collaborated with two games companies, Electronic Arts and Nintendo of America.””

Are you accusing Dr. Miyamoto and Prof. Meier of somehow being biased?!? For shame, sir. For shame.

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Well no shit. Why would people do hobbies if it doesn’t make them happy?

Yes, yes, I know some people take something fun and turn it into a toxic cesspool. But competitive games aside, we do stuff because it is fun.


I read video games might slow cognitive decline that comes with aging. I bought a couple of original Nintendo controllers and played the Zelda Link to the Wild game online. After about 30 minutes I asked myself what the hell I was doing-I hated it.
I think I played the Duck Hunt game and another one that used a gun. Still, I’ve never seen the attraction and I nearly bought a “VR” ready high end Dell tower recently.

I’m not sure if this post is meant to be serious, but I have a response anyway.

You want to show cognitive decline, play puzzle and strategy games. Tetris and Lumines are easily the best to play. Unfortunately they also come with a side order of addicting game play… Not speaking from experience, of course. No, not me…

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What ever could have been there first clue?

• Actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s wellbeing
• A player’s subjective experiences during play might be a bigger factor for wellbeing than mere play time.
• Players experiencing genuine enjoyment from the games experience more positive well-being
• Findings align with past research suggesting people whose psychological needs weren’t being met in the ‘real world’ might report negative well-being from play.

Sooo, what they’re saying is… playing games makes you happy - unless it doesn’t?

I’d argue that’s not the self-evident truth it would seem to be - at all. With games in particular, you can have games designed around “Skinner box” addictive feedback loops that makes games compulsive, but not necessarily enjoyable. Like with gambling - that’s working along similar lines - people can spend huge amounts of time doing it, but it doesn’t make them happy. In fact, it can make them quite miserable. Other “hobbies” can have motivations that aren’t about pleasure as well (e.g. peer pressure). The fact is, people can easily end up spending a lot of their “free” time doing things that ultimately make them miserable.


Maybe it’s my depression, but I find that Skinner box style games do not make me want to continue playing. Games that make me feel like I have achieved something might do, but that requires me putting in effort and a chance to fail.


I find them easy to fall into playing (if they’re well made… in the sense of being compulsive), when depressed, but ultimately they’re just more depressing.


A friend graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, and applied to work for a video games company. The interviewer said “You’re now a qualified mechanical engineer. Convince me that you’re not just planning to work here until you get a ‘real’ job.”

My friend replied “Since starting my degree, I’ve learned that my skills can be used to build weapons that hurt people, industrial plants that make people sick, or games that make people happy. I’ve made my choice.” He got the job.


doom scrolling for instance. although in this case maybe that’s more like this:

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It’s my 2020 travel plan. Thus far, We have:

  • Time travelled to 1961 to liberate America from Nazis
  • Bootstrapped the Creed in Ancient Egypt
  • Bloodily climbed the mercenary ranks in Ancient Greece
  • Liberated Hope County, Montana (that didn’t turn out so well)
  • Prowled the streets of Kabukichō and Dōtonbori