The PowerWash Simulator Research Edition was created in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute to study the effects of playing video games on the mental health of players. In the first-of-its-kind study, players volunteered to participate in research by donating their play data and regularly reporting their mood in the game. The study concluded in March this year, after an overwhelmingly positive participation rate, with over 11,000 players from 39 countries worldwide.
A Unique Open Online Data Resource
Together with the Oxford Internet Institute, we are pleased to release this data set, which is the largest on this topic in the world, as an open online resource to study the effects of playing video games on the well-being of players.
“Despite widespread worries about the impacts of games on the mental health and wellbeing of players, there is little empirical evidence to support or refute these concerns. We set out to address those concerns by collaborating with FuturLab to collect real-time in-play data about how people feel when they are gaming, and not sometime after as is usually done in video game research. Together we have created a fully transparent online resource of gaming data, which as far as we are aware is the largest repository of its kind in the world.”Dr Matti Vuorre | First Author | Assistant Professor at Tilburg University
“Although extensively studied, the level of understanding required to address sensationalist headlines and advise policy is lacking, at least partly because much of the science has relied on artificial settings and limited self-report data.
“In our new study, we set out to develop a framework of best practices for researchers, psychologists and data scientists involved in the study of gaming and its impact on mental health and wellbeing. Our data set is published as an open resource to help others in the field go further and deeper in the pursuit of understanding more about the psychological state of gamers. This study is a real game changer that opens the black box of gaming for all.”Professor Andrew Przybylski | Co-author and project lead | Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
What’s Next for the Study?
Full analysis of the study has yet to be published and peer reviewed but will follow, looking in more depth at how video game play affects players’ well-being. The OII plans to conduct detailed statistical analyses of the PowerWash dataset and to publish their findings in the coming months as part of their ongoing collaboration with FuturLab.
A Unique Insight into how we Implemented the Study
Our very own Senior Programmer, James Butlin, was responsible for implementing the study into the game, and recently gave a talk at GDC’s Fair Play Summit about implementing an ethical and effective study directly into a video game. It is available to watch here, via GDC Vault.
“From a game developer’s perspective, the opportunity to scientifically measure the level of satisfaction, competency, and general well-being your players feel while playing your game is invaluable – and incredibly exciting!
“I spoke in detail about some of the challenges we faced while implementing the study into PowerWash Simulator during my talk at GDC 2023. We are very proud of our work on the study and hope to inspire others to get involved in similar collaborative research.”James Butlin | Senior Programmer | FuturLab
Read the Full Study
You can read the full study, An intensive longitudinal dataset of video game play, well-being and motivations: Case study of PowerWash Simulator by Co-authors: Matti Vuorre, Kristoffer Magnusson, Niklas Johannes, James Butlin and Andrew K Przybylski HERE.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we are invested in the futur of games and we are passionate about people; the PWS Research Edition has been a unique way that we’ve been able to offer insight and perhaps impact the way people will create and interact with games in the future. We are excited to have been a part of this study which will make valuable data available to researchers, springboard new studies and, a little later down the line, provide insight into how video games affect player wellbeing. A huge thank you to all of you who took part and played on the Research branch.