YouPorn recently conducted a study asking its users what made them happy, in honor of the International Day of Happiness. Some of the answers were not unsurprising. Male users said things like cannabis, love, ice cream, and music would be in their top five, while women brought up things like friends, food, and cute animals. But, when it came to the number one spot of all combined results, one thing one: gaming. Gaming was considered something that made people happier than than porn. Which might make people wonder, why?
It comes down to endorphins. These are chemicals released by the brain when people engage in pleasurable activities. The nervous system and brain let out these hormones when people do something that is considered pleasant. Exercising is a great way to release these, as the activity causes a rush of endorphins, which can result in positivity, act as a sedative, and even help with pain relief. Winning in a game can cause a "winner effect," which provides that kind of positive rush. That same sort of feeling can come from, well, "adult" materials.
The same goes for dopamine release. This is the chemical released by neurons and helps provide a risk-reward system. A positive action results in the release of dopamine. This sends positive reinforcement to someone and encourages people to get more engaged in something. Games become more desirable as we play them, leading to the positive effects caused by dopamine release in our brains, making us want to seek out more of it to continue to get that thrill. Listening to music, exercising, meditating, and even eating certain foods have a similar effect. It is a cause and effect relationship that makes continuing to engage in an activity seem more beneficial to the person performing.
Gaming being so varied makes it easy to enjoy. Unlike some sorts of activities that get endorphin and dopamine levels up, there are tons of genres for people to choose from. There are different difficulty levels to challenge people. It is an all ages activity anyone can enjoy. People can participate in games anywhere at practically any time. It can even become a social activity. Sometimes, it is even free. It's incredibly easy to opt into, making it a positive experience for a huge audience.
There's also the fact that gaming can be rather effortless. There's very little physical impact required to participate in a video game. All you really need to invest into it is time. You don't even need to possess particular skills to succeed. People who are great at games could go all-in on titles like Call of Duty, Monster Hunter: World, or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. People who want something more relaxed could chill with a visual novel like Hatoful Boyfriend or an investment-heavy, turn-based RPG like Dragon Quest XI. Low impact means easy access.
It is one of those things where the reason gaming is such a success becomes obvious when you think about it. Everyone can get into games. There is no barrier of entry keeping people out. It is often a low impact activity, with the many genres ensuring there will be at least one kind of game someone is good at and will enjoy. It also might not cost a lot of money or be limited to people of a certain age. It's no wonder it gets the good vibes going and ends up being more enjoyable than even things like porn.