Some Video Games Can Make People Happier & Less Violent

Studies show that some video games can make people kinder, helpful, and happier. Just like some violent video games were shown to stir up negative emotions and perhaps even lead to violence, relaxing video games have positive effects on the mood.

Evidence of Positive Emotional Effect of Video Games

These findings were put forward by Brad Bushman, a Ph.D., and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, who said that “With all the evidence about the dangers of violent video games, it’s good to know that game players can choose games that will provide a positive experience,” Bushman stated.

Bushman has conducted many pieces of research and experiments to study the negative effects of violent games. He conducted a study to evaluate the positive effects of relaxing video games for the first time. The research could not be conducted earlier because the relaxing genre of games did not exist.

‘Scuba driver’ is one relaxing game where the player explores marine life and hidden treasures in the deep ocean. He encounters different forms of sea life, even sharks, but they do not attack. Following two experiments were conducted to evaluate the gaming effects on the moods of people.

violent video games, Woman Playing Computer Game

The First Experiment

In the first study, a sample of 150 students was given 20 minutes to play different games. The games were of three types i.e. relaxing, neutral, and violent, such as Endless Ocean, Super Mario Galaxy, and Resident Evil 4 respectively. 

After 20 minutes of gameplay, they participated in a reaction time task. The goal was to push a button faster than their supposed opponent. The winner would get a cash prize and the loser would have to bear the sound blast through his headphones. The participants were to decide the amount of money for the winner and the length and loudness of the blast for the loser.

This experiment gave the following results.

  • The people who played a violent game were in an aggressive mood. They chose a louder and lengthier blast than those who played a relaxing or neutral game.
  • Neutral game players also proved to be more aggressive by choosing louder blasts than relaxing game players.
  • The participants who played a relaxing game gave their opponents more money than players of the other two genres. This showed that they were in a happy and helping mood.

“The results were clear: relaxing video games made people kinder and less aggressive,” Bushman concluded.

The Second Experiment

In the second experiment, a sample of 116 college students played relaxing, neutral, and violent games for 20 minutes. After the gameplay, each participant was given a questionnaire that measured his mood. Another catch in this study was to sharpen the pencils, which the experimenter announced to use in another test.

The number of pencils participants chose to sharpen showed their prosocial behavior. The results of this study also stood for the hypothesis that relaxing video games makes people kinder and helpful. The students who played relaxing games chose more pencils to sharpen than those who played violent or neutral games.

  • The people who sharpened more pencils also showed joy, happiness, and good mood through the questionnaire. 
  • The players of relaxing video games displayed more positive emotions than players of violent games.

“Relaxing video games put people in a good mood. And when people are in a good mood, they are more inclined to help others, and that’s better for everyone,” Bushman stated.

Investigators were diligent in choosing games of the same rating. A separated group of students rated the relaxing games as much good entertainment as the violent or neutral games were enjoyable. The games were of extreme contrast and, for this reason, violent games were rated more violent, and relaxing games were rated more relaxing because they showed off each other.

Experimenters gave the money in the first experiment and participants had no trouble in giving it away. In the second experiment, the participant had to engage himself in a tedious task, like sharpening the pencils. The relaxing games put people in a relaxing and good mood, promulgating emotions of kindness and help.


Roman Russo

Roman Russo

Roman Russo is the visionary founder, senior happiness coach, and Chief Happiness Officer of Optimal Happiness. He has written the revolutionary Optimal Happiness: The Fastest and Surest Way to Reach Your Happiest Potential, a must-read book about achieving our happiest potential. After researching this field for over eight years, Roman is confident that anyone can become happy and invites us to undertake this transformation. Are you ready to start living the life you always meant to live?

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