When the results of our ‘Win Well’ Gamers Health Survey came in, we were delighted to see just how positively our community feels about the thing they love. A massive 75% of respondents told us that they felt happier after gaming and an even more impressive 84% told us that gaming had a positive effect on their emotional health.

In many ways, it comes as no surprise to us that people feel good gaming. It gives us all sorts of valuable associations and positive feelings. Essentially, gaming brings those who love it a greater sense of happiness and both science and research into the gaming community have proven it. Here’s what they’ve found…

Good reasons to game
People are motivated to do things they enjoy, want to get better at or feel positively challenged by…for gaming, that’s definitely true. In a 2018 survey done by Qutee and reported on in Forbes, 75 percent of gamers’ primary reasons for gaming was for fun and relaxation—inherently positive things that directly funnel into a person’s sense of happiness. Other reasons that were cited in the study included competition, achievement, social interaction, community and playing on a team— again, all inherently positive things that contribute to feeling happy.

In our own “Win Well” survey, of which we shared the results and a summary in this post, we received responses from gamers saying overwhelmingly that gaming affected their mood positively, gave them a sense of community and provided good social experiences, reduced their feelings of anxiety, and just straight-up made them feel happier. (You can register to receive a free copy of the summary report here.)

More good reasons
Many gamers have shared stories of how gaming has even gotten them through really tough times in their lives, how it’s provided them an escape, whether from depression or stress or all of the above. Others have cited how gaming allows them to not only play something but to also tap into feeling playful, which is directly linked to the happiness switch in our brains. Gaming brings people into creative realms, sparks their imaginations, and gives gamers something to feel excited about. When you have something to look forward to at all times, you’re bound to feel happier overall.

Even TIME Magazine reported on how gaming brings happiness, saying that it teaches people to stay in the present moment (because you really can’t do anything but that when zombies are coming at you); it allows people to experience “flow” with intense focus and energy, getting lost in their gaming pursuit; and it keeps people moving forward even through failure and in the face of stressful or scary (albeit virtual) circumstances—all of which can then translate into real life.

Scientifically proven positivity
Effectively, gaming has a very real, tangible effect on people’s lives, and in the last decade, science has caught on. Initially, so much research went into what the negative effects of gaming are. There are some, and we’ll get to those. But thankfully, researchers have realized that the anecdotally stated benefits have roots in physical evidence in the body as well as scientifically proven emotional developments.

A 2014 review of studies in American Psychologist found all sorts of benefits backing what gamers were saying on their own. For instance, learning how to face failure and move on through gaming was found to improve well-being. Simpler, more accessible games, like Angry Birds or Candy Crush, were found to reduce stress and induce calm. Completing levels, learning new moves, or beating games all help gamers feel pride and accomplishment, which naturally bring about higher levels of confidence and happiness. Finally, knowing that feeling a sense of belonging directly impacts peoples’ happiness, the review discussed how the vast majority of gamers said they found new friends and strong communities in gaming, and that through learning better social skills in the gaming world, they’ve been able to better engage with their communities outside of gaming and improve their social lives all around.

That same review also cited particular benefits for children. It found that gaming can strengthen children’s cognitive skills (as we know it does for adults) as well as their reasoning, general learning and development, role-playing and strategy skills. It uses play—remember, the inherently good-feeling-inducing exercise—to help teach kids resilience in a low-stakes environment, too. All of these things contribute to a child’s sense of happiness purely by helping them feel more competent and comfortable in a variety of scenarios.

One study published in Frontiers of Psychology looked at gaming’s particular relation to someone “flourishing,” which is scientifically measured by the conglomeration of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. The study found because games focus on learning new skills, accomplishing set tasks, achieving elevated concentration, and working together with other players towards a common goal—all things that promote happiness and a good feeling for people—they are intrinsically designed to promote well-being and happiness.

Happy when done healthily
Like anything, however, there are downsides: Some people do experience anxiety and even anger when gaming. Some people do find their stress levels increase and don’t go back down easily after gaming. And there are some games that may cause this more than others. (For example, for those gamers more prone to anxiety, we don’t recommend apocalypse games in the current state of things . . . ) But more often than not, the negative effects some gamers experience tend to occur when gamers engage in unhealthy gaming patterns and habits.

In all of the studies cited above, the researchers found that there was a window, per se, within which gamers would experience the benefits, but outside of that window—if people gamed very little or not at all, or conversely (and more predominantly), if they gamed too much or had a gaming addiction—they would experience negative effects.

So, you’ve heard it here—but you’ve likely felt it first—as long as you’re gaming healthily and still actively engaging in the rest of your life, gaming can bring immense benefits and increase your level of happiness day in and day out. We hope we can help bring some of that happiness too.

Game Happy and Win Well.