Study: Skyrim Ranks As The Best Video Game For Mindfulness

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Although it’s more well-known for being frustrating (and perhaps wrongly so), we think that gaming could possibly be the next wellness trend. Forget Ring Fit and BoxVR, we’re not talking for fitness, but rather mindfulness.

As part of our ongoing series of studies about how modern media affects the way we live, we were intrigued to find out just how much gaming could affect our mood and mental wellbeing.

Previous studies have shown that eight out of 10 (79%) gamers state that gaming provides relaxation and stress relief*, with well over half of c-suite executives taking daily gaming breaks,** and benefiting from meditation techniques and hits of dopamine***.

When we last surveyed our community members, we asked them to list the games that made them feel the most mindful and in a state of ‘flow’ (also known as being ‘in the zone’).

For the physical element of the study, 100 participants from a range of backgrounds, locations, gender, sexual orientations and ages (ranging between 18 and 72) were asked to test the games that were mentioned most often during the survey.

Participants were asked to game in two-hour stints, alone, using whatever consoles and peripherals that they would usually use to game but with the addition of them wearing a simple heart rate monitor to ensure that it didn’t raise significantly to suggest stress or over-excitement. They were also asked to record via a questionnaire of how their mood shifted before, during and after gaming to highlight emotions, stress levels and how mindful they felt.

We also asked them for extra details about the specific factors in the game that they found relaxing or ‘mindful’.

Here are the top 10 games for mindfulness and the elements that helped players get the most in the zone:


1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Gameplay

Repetitive battle mechanics, outdoor scenery, grinding for materials allow for games to keep focus and achieve small victories through the game.


2. Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy Reroll Gameplay

Repetitive game play with soft easy-to-view aesthetics. Katamari Damacy is easy to pick up and put down with simple game mechanics that can prove to be a quick remedy for a stressful day.


3. Tetris

Tetris Classic Startup Screen

Similar to Katamari Damacy, Tetris’ bright colors, repetitive movements, and small victories prove for a mindful game.


4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Screenshot

Several games from The Witcher series were mentioned in the original survey, but the latest in the series captured our gamers with more grinding for materials and small victories in mini games.


5. Minecraft

Minecraft Gameplay Screenshot

Playing Minecraft without enemies was thought to be a great way to get creative and to lose oneself while finding and crafting materials.


6. No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky Screenshot

This virtually boundary-less exploration game is incredible gaming and has no pressing objectives to stress out players with.


7. Euro Truck Simulator

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Screenshot

Big open roads with simple driving mechanics allow gamers to find their peace amongst the scenery in Euro Truck Simulator.


8. House Flipper

House Flipper Gameplay Screenshot

House Flipper’s low risk opportunity for creativity without time constraints meant that it was an ideal game to unwind with.


9. Firewatch

Firewatch Gameplay Screenshot

Firewatch’s open world allows for hours of exploration and puzzle-solving while looking for clues. Game settings also allow for less audio interactions with characters making for a blissful adventure.


10. Flower

Flower Video Game Screenshot

Designed with the player’s happiness at the forefront, Flower is a relaxing, visually stunning experience without enemies, objectives, or external pressures.

Do you have any favorite games to help you reach a state of ‘flow’? Let us know!

* Statistics from Entertainment Software Association
** Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking
*** American Psychological Association and Koepp, M., Gunn, R., Lawrence, A. et al. Evidence for striatal dopamine release during a video game. Nature 393, 266–268 (1998).

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