Games are one of the industries that have grown during the pandemic. The reason is, many people use games as an escape from reality. Apart from that, games are also a place for people to hang out with their friends and family without leaving the house.
At the end of 2020, My.Games conducted a survey to determine the level of awareness of gamers about mental health. To that end, they are working with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the Fair Play Alliance, and the non-profit organization Take This, which has a mission to make the gaming community friendlier to gamers and developers with mental problems. The My.Games survey was followed by more than 21 thousand gamers aged at least 14 years in the United States, Europe and Eastern Europe.
My.Games Chief Marketing Officer, Elena Grigoryan said, they conducted this survey to find out about mental health trends among gamers. Their ultimate goal is to create a healthier gaming ecosystem.
Most Gamers Are Aware of the Importance of Mental Health
Based on a survey conducted by My.Games, it is known that the majority of gamers in the US, UK, Russia, France, Germany and Spain are aware of the importance of mental health. Unfortunately, not all gamers understand the meaning of mental health. For example, in Germany, the number of gamers who understand the concept of mental health is only 28%, while in France, this figure rises slightly to 29%. The good news is that the number of gamers who understand the meaning of mental health is much higher in Russia (40%), Spain (53%), the United States (76%), and the UK (79%).
From the My.Games survey, it is also known that during the lockdown, as many as 93% of respondents played multiplayer games. And about 84% of them claim to be willing to chat with other players. Most gamers said, they were already open to communicating with other gamers even before the lockdown was enforced. However, around 25% of respondents admitted that they had become more active in interacting because of the lockdown.
“Globally, we find that multiplayer games help gamers through periods of isolation,” said Executive Director, IGDA, Renee Gittins, as quoted by Pocket Gamer. “In difficult times like now, games have become an important tool to stay connected to one another.”
Meanwhile, around 38% of respondents use games as a tool to communicate with their friends. In the US, as many as 64% of gamers said interacting with other gamers helped them overcome feelings of loneliness. Only 9% of respondents admit that establishing online communication has made their mental state worse, reports VentureBeat. The results of the My.Games survey are in line with the results of a survey conducted by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). In July 2020, the ESA issued a report stating that playing games helped Americans overcome loneliness during the pandemic.
Games Are Not Always Fun
Playing games can indeed help someone to overcome feelings of loneliness during lockdown. However, that doesn’t mean gamers don’t experience health problems at all. Data from the My.Games survey shows that as many as 33% of gamers in the US have experienced anxiety or other stress-related disorders during lockdown. This figure fell slightly in the UK, to 32%. In France and Spain, the number of gamers with anxiety disorders is only 15%, which is the lowest number.
In the UK and US, the number of gamers with anxiety disorders is higher than in other countries. Fortunately, gamers in both countries are also active enough to seek help from mental health experts. About 42% of gamers in the US and 38% of gamers in the UK have gone to mental health professionals during the pandemic.
About 63% of gamers in the US said they would ask mental health professionals if they felt they needed it. It’s just that, in the US, gamers still encounter various obstacles in gaining access to mental health professional services. One of them is the high cost.
Meanwhile, gamers in the UK are having a different problem. Although there is a large number of gamers with anxiety disorders in the UK, most of them are reluctant to seek help from psychologists or psychiatrists. As many as 74% of British gamers think they don’t need the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist to solve their mental problems and think going to a mental health professional is a waste of money.
In addition, playing online games can also cause other problems, such as cyberbullying or online harassment. When playing online games, 57% of respondents said they were insulted, 52% admitted to being victims of trolls and 52% found people behaving aggressively. About 10% of respondents even claim, playing online games has a negative impact on their mental health.
“During the pandemic, the main method we use to connect with friends and family is online communication,” Grigoryan told GameDaily. “The number of people who use games as a place to socialize has grown rapidly during the pandemic. Games are complex entertainment media, making us feel stronger emotions than when we consume other entertainment media. Unfortunately, the emotions felt by gamers are not always positive. And anonymity on the internet allows someone to act arbitrarily without having to worry about the consequences of their actions. ”
According to Gittins, game developers must be aware that toxic gamers are still a big problem in the gaming industry. “Moderating systems, creating a positive culture, and blocking people from annoying other players are some of the ways to create comfortable conditions for all gamers. Amid the increasing popularity of online games in the midst of a pandemic, the role of developers in managing communities is also becoming increasingly important. “