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US residents find gaming a mental release – study

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US residents have reported a positive effect on their mental wellbeing after gaming according to a new study published by WePC.

Contrary to the stereotypical view of antisocial gamers locked in their room alone for hours on end, most people surveyed spent between 1 and 10 hours gaming per week.

The vast majority (92%) of the 524 people surveyed stated that playing video games has no negative effect on their mental health and more than a third (37%) say that it has a positive impact.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), gamers are at increased risk of developing mental health issues such as heightened anxiety, violent behaviour, and gaming addiction.

But the survey found only 7.82% of people surveyed believe it negatively affects their mental health.One respondent described gaming as “a coping mechanism for the debilitating effects of living with OCD” whilst another claimed, “it’s a way to be involved in interactive entertainment in the new socially distanced world.”

And it seems gaming has become a new form of escapism too, with 46% of respondents citing gaming as a useful distraction from the pressures of everyday life during lockdown.

Former soldier Rudi Benjamin, 51, of New York, has been a gamer since the age of eight.

He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and finds gaming helps his condition.

“When I’m at my lowest point gaming is what gets me through,” he said. “I can get quite frustrated at times and gaming helps relieve the pressure on me and my family. It’s been a big escape for me during the pandemic.”

Craig Kirkcaldy, co-founder of WePC said: “This survey challenges the negative perceptions of gaming and remove some of the stigmas gamers face. There’s a false perception that all forms of gaming are bad for mental health, but the reality is that it only becomes an issue when excessive in nature.”

In the survey, 49% of those who said it had a positive impact on their mental health spent between one- and 10-hours gaming per week.

However, in support of Craig’s claims, those who admitted to spending 41+ hours gaming per week were 69% more likely to experience negative impacts than those who gamed for 1-10 hours.

Last year the WHO caused controversy when it officially designated video game addiction as a mental health disorder.

Gaming disorder was added to the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

The WHO said for gaming disorder to be diagnosed it must have a “significant impairment” lasting at least 12 months.

The global video game market is forecast to be worth $164.6 billion by then end of 2020 – up from $152 billion in 2019.

Many say isolation lockdown during the Covid-19 global pandemic has fuelled this increase in gaming.

A report by Ipsos found individuals were driven toward playing multiplayer games in order to meet like-minded people and boost mental wellbeing.

However, a huge 79% of those surveyed by WePC in September said they were more likely to play single-player games than multiplayer games.

Those regularly playing single player games were more than twice as likely toexperience a positive mental health benefit.In fact, only 3% of respondents overall answered yes to playing games to meet like-minded people.

Cognitive function is also said to be improved by gaming with 29% of respondents saying they played games to keep mentally active.

Despite the positive results, it seems there is still a long way to go before perceptions are completely transformed, even in gamershemselves.

Those respondents (53%) who believed there are negative perceptions in the media were 87% more likely to report a negative impact on theirmental health compared to those who think there is no negative perception in the media (47% of respondents).

This poses the question as to whether it is, in fact, mind over matter.

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