According to sources, UK academics utilized the gameplay data from Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, & Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and used psychological questionnaires to find that the more time spent playing these games led to greater “wellbeing” in the gamers.
This is one of the first cases where actual playtime data was used instead of asking players to record their hours. Andrew Przybylski, who served as lead researcher on the study said that “This is about bringing games into the fold of psychology research that’s not a dumpster fire,” he continued by saying that the study shows that you would be a “much happier human being” provided you played Animal Crossing for 4 hours a day, though the researchers don’t want to give games a resulting “carte blanche pass”. He was also quoted as saying: “I’m very confident that if the research goes on, we will learn about the things that we think of as toxic in games, and we will have evidence for those things as well”
Przybylski believes that if gameplay data is continuously used instead of self-reported hours, the research done will be better understood, saying: “You have really respected, important bodies, like the World Health Organization and the NHS, allocating attention and resources to something that there’s literally no good data on, and it’s shocking to me, the reputational risk that everyone’s taking, given the stakes. For them to turn around and be like, ‘hey, this thing that 95% of teenagers do? Yeah, that’s addictive, no, we don’t have any data,’ that makes no sense.”