FuturLab has partnered with independent researchers from Oxford University’s Internet Institute for a one-of-a-kind study looking at the relationship between gaming and mental health using PowerWash Simulator.
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The opt-in program went live yesterday (August 18), with a Research Edition of PowerWash Simulator currently available on Steam.
According to FuturLab, the most significant difference from the main game is that both multiplayer and non-English language support have been disabled in the Research Edition.
Research Edition will also feature a new character “which allows researchers to contact 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.”
Questions won’t be asked in challenge mode either and campaign progress will not be carried over between Research Edition and the main game.
We’re incredibly excited to announce the launch of PowerWash Simulator’s Research Edition on Steam.
In partnership with @oiioxford, we've made an optional branch to monitor players' well-being and will add to broader gaming and mental health research.
— FuturLab (@FuturLab) August 18, 2022
FuturLab will eventually offer PowerWash Simulator cosmetic rewards for participating, though the system to unlock them has already been put into place so any and all progress will count towards them.
Answering the “why should I get involved?” question in the PowerWash Simulator FAQs, FuturLab said: “Because it’ll support extremely important research on video games! This is a first-of-its-kind research study which will be important in understanding the effects videogames can have on their players.”
According to developer, the researcher’s guiding principle is “absolute independence: the results of the study will not be influenced by the game sector and are therefore completely independent of FuturLab. This level of independence is necessary as the project aims to deliver insights into the larger discourse of gaming and mental health.”
To find out how to opt-in, click here.