Young and well CRC researcher Dr Daniel Johnson and his team at the Queensland University of Technology’s Games Research and Interaction Design Lab are exploring positive links between gaming and wellbeing. Johnson completed a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge Well-being Institute in the UK before returning home to Australia to work at QUT.
“Historically, there has been a huge focus on the potential negative impacts of video games,” says Johnson. “So as a first step, we undertook a large-scale review of the literature relating to the positive impacts.”
In their experimental trials, the team monitor biometrics, such as brain activity, heart rate and muscle activation, in participants playing video games.
They have found clear evidence of a positive link between gaming and self-esteem, optimism and relationships. In collaboration with Smiling Mind, a not-for-profit initiative to engage young Australians in meditation, the results are being applied to improve physical and mental health.
“We are working towards a more broad-ranging view of the potential benefits of gaming and a deeper understanding of what types of games and features of games have a positive influence for which people,” says Johnson.
His overall advice is to “enjoy video games as part of a balanced diet. But think mindfully about what you play, how you play and how it makes you feel.”