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New study finds that 91% of gamers recognise the importance of mental health

Toxic behaviour in games continues to negatively impact mental health
New study finds that 91% of gamers recognise the importance of mental health
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Publisher My.Games partnered with the IGDA and Fair Play Alliance to conduct a gamers mental health survey.

Last year, the study saw more than 21,000 respondents aged 14 and up across both the US and Europe.

Through the research, My.Games hoped to find out how aware gamers are of mental health and how frequently they struggled with related issues.

"My.Games has millions of registered users, for whom virtual space has become one of the main platforms for communication and recreation during the pandemic," said My.Games CMO Elena Grigoryan.

"The change in the usual way of life, and the increased level of stress-all inevitably left its mark on the players, whose care is our direct responsibility.

"The study of the psychological wellbeing of our audience, following the results of the pandemic, is an important step designed to draw attention to the topic of mental health."

Mentally aware

Overall, UK respondents were the most aware of mental health-related matters, with 79 per cent of respondents claiming to be well informed, while just nine per cent were not.

Moreover, 65 per cent of UK-based respondents claimed that playing games with other people had helped them feel more connected while in lockdown due to coronavirus.

However, across Europe and the US, 91 per cent of respondents acknowledged the importance of looking after their mental health.

"Across the world, we have seen that multiplayer games have helped ease the pains of social isolation for those who enjoy video games. Video games are an important tool for connecting with each other in these difficult times," said IGDA executive director Renee Gittins.

COVID troubles

Before the pandemic hit, 66 per cent of those surveyed claimed that their mental health was strong, while 57 per cent said that it was normal in the first few months of the outbreak.

Currently, 59 per cent believe their mental health to be positive now.

Throughout lockdown, 93 per cent of respondents have played multiplayer titles, with 84 per cent willing to communicate with other players.

Most players are communicating the same amount as they were before COVID-19 hit. However, 25 per cent have increased the amount of interaction they have. Furthermore, 38 per cent of respondents use games as a means to hang out with friends.

"Having spaces to connect is more important than ever during shelter-in-place," explained Fair Play Alliance executive director Carlos Figueiredo.

"The core of connection is healthy gameplay and, more importantly, healthy players. We're committed to supporting game developers and platforms in reducing disruptive behaviour and increasing players' wellbeing."

Removing toxicity

Despite the benefits online gaming has on mental health, such as feeling connected to others, it can also be detrimental.

When playing games with other people, 57 per cent of those surveyed were subjected to insults, while 53 per cent were trolled and 52 per cent were on the receiving end of aggressive behaviour.

One in 10 respondents claimed that online games had a negative impact on their mental health.

"Video game developers must make note that toxicity in-game communities is still an issue for our industry," said Gittins

"Moderation systems, positive culture cultivation, and exclusion of the worst offenders is necessary to allow everyone to enjoy gaming. Management of communities is even more important with the increase in online gaming and its importance in combating social isolation."