PowerWash Simulator was designed to put player satisfaction and relaxation first. We have enjoyed many an anecdote from our community of how our game has helped people reach a soothing state of calm. Sticking on a podcast or chatting with friends whilst washing away the worries of the day has become a favourite past-time in Muckingham; we’ve even heard humbling tales of our game getting people through tough times.

By collaborating with the Oxford Internet Institute, we aim to assist in the study of how video games effect players’ mental health. To do this, we have created a Research Edition of PowerWash Simulator.

Shortly, players will be invited to sign up for a research edition of the game, where they report their well-being to the researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute. FuturLab then shares play data (e.g., when a player cleaned an object) with the researchers. This combination of subjective reports and objective play data allows the researchers to test important research questions about the effects of video game play. Researchers anticipate releasing the full results early 2024, but limited project updates will be posted here during the research phase.

The study is taking place on a separate build of the game, which we’re calling our “Research Edition”. This version of the game will include the same content as the main game with a few changes.

The most significant difference from the main game is that both Multiplayer and Non-English language support have been disabled in the Research Edition.

A new character has been introduced in the Research Edition which allows our researchers to contact you, the player, as if they exist in the game’s universe. They will get in touch throughout the study and occasionally ask questions about your experience. These questions are extremely short (they’ll take you less than a couple of seconds to answer) so shouldn’t disrupt your game experience.

They will leave you alone in challenge mode though, so as not to disrupt your concentration!

Cosmetic rewards will be available later, but the system to unlock them has been put into place so progress will be counted towards them. You’ll see this progression reflected in the ‘Rewards’ pop-up in the game.

Please note that campaign progress will not be carried over between the Research Edition and the main game. This means that opted-in players will need to start from the beginning of the game and any progress in the Research Edition will not be shared with the main game. This is to ensure the study can be delivered in the most consistent way possible while also avoiding potential issues with saved progress on the main game.

The guiding principle for this study is absolute independence; the results will not be influenced by the game sector, whilst researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute work closely together with dedicated personnel at FuturLab, they will maintain complete financial and organizational independence. This level of independence is necessary as the project aims to deliver insights into the larger discourse of gaming and mental health. Furthermore, the data being collected are being de-identified so that no one at either FuturLab or Oxford Internet Institute will be able to re-identify you as a participant. 

FuturLab is excited to bring you this edition of PowerWash Simulator and intrigued to see what the results will reveal! If you are too, why not take part in this first-of-its-kind study? To Find out more, including how to access the Research Edition of PowerWash Simulator, read more here.

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