Need to relax? Try a video game!

Playing relaxing video games can make people happier and kinder, according to two new studies conducted by researchers at Ohio State University (OSU).

“The results were clear: relaxing video games made people kinder and less aggressive,” states Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at OSU and co-author of the studies.

What the results revealed was that players of relaxing games game their opponents more money and demonstrated more pro-social behavior than players of violent or even neutral video games. Further, relaxing game players indicated they felt more happiness, joy, love and other positive emotions that those playing violent games.

“Relaxing video games put people in a good mood,” Bushman explains. “And when people are in a good mood, they are more inclined to help others and that’s better for everyone.”

Many previous studies have explored the effects of violent video games. Bushman himself has conducted studies demonstrating the negative effects of violent video games, particularly on teens and young people. These are the first studies exploring the impact of relaxing video games.

“Until recently, we couldn’t tell if relaxing video games improved people’s moods, because such games didn’t exist,” Bushman noted. “most video games try to rev people up rather than calm them done. But there’s a new genre of games available that provide a calming experience.”

One of those new genre of games is Nintendo’s Endless Ocean Blue World which is available for the Wii and Nintendo DSi console systems.

“In Endless Ocean: Blue World, we created an extraordinarily vast ocean and incorporated lost of events, ” explains Hotoshi Yamagami, Producer, Endless Ocean Blue World. “For that reason, we gave [players] a story as a guide. We wanted to make it so that, as they progress through the story, they’ll gain hints to various secrets that lurk in the sea before they’re even aware of it. Then, they’ll be able to enjoy an even deeper story, a ‘ques’, and collect things and raise things and advance wherever their fancy takes them, and as they do it, they’ll naturally enjoy everything this ocean has to offer.”

Bushman conducted the studies with Jodi Whitaker, a doctoral student in communication at Ohio State and the lead author of the study. The study, which incorporates two field studies, appears online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and will be published in a future print edition.

“With all the evidence about the dangers of violent video games, it’s good to know that game players can choose games that will provide a positive experience,” said Bushman.

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