Ways That Video Games Are Good For You
Whether you’re an avid gamer looking for an excuse to play more, or you’re a parent concerned about your child spending too much time playing games, the facts about video games stand. Video games are actually good for you! With a few caveats, however.
Here’s a summary of 15 ways that video games are good for you:
- Video Games Can Improve Your Reflexes
- Playing Video Games Improves Your Coordination
- Gaming Can Make You a Better Problem Solver
- Playing Video Games Makes You More Strategic
- Video Games Can Teach You to Work With a Team
- Gaming Can Improve Relationships
- Playing Video Games Can Improve Your Social Skills
- Video Games Encourage Creativity
- You Can Burn Calories While Playing Video Games
- Playing Video Games Can Reduce Stress and Depression
- Video Games Can Improve Your Eyesight
- Video Games Can Reduce Pain
- Playing Video Games Can Be Educational
- Playing Video Games Can Improve Your Ability to Focus
- You Can Improve Your Memory By Playing Video Games
Let’s look at each of these points in more depth to help you better understand the positives of playing video games.
Playing Video Games Improves Your Reflexes
Gamers everywhere will be happy to learn that playing video games can greatly enhance reflexes. Action video games, in particular, have been proven to improve the reflexes of those who play them.
Due to the nature of action video games, players are required to both concentrate and react quickly for long periods of time.
Given that most gamers play for at least several hours each day, it’s understandable how they might quickly gain improved reflexes. Making them ideal candidates for jobs that others might deem too fast-paced.
It’s good to note that not all video games will have this effect on players. Slower-paced games like The Sims or Animal Crossing are too slowly paced to yield the same results. If you want to get your blood pumping and reflexes working, you’ll want to play games like Fortnite and Call of Duty. (source)
Playing Video Games Improves Your Coordination
Have you ever seen someone play video games for the first time? It’s usually a challenge for them to even walk around and look where they’re supposed to, let alone use an additional game mechanic at the same time.
Many video games require that players be able to multitask and think about more than just pressing the correct buttons on their controller or keyboard. The more you play a video game, the easier it is to forget about the physical movements you must make with your input device.
The improved coordination that gamers gain can make gaming a deeply immersive experience. If you’ve ever played Subnautica in a dark room with surround sound headphones on, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Improved coordination means that gamers can experience heightened abilities in performing tasks such as driving, sports, or other activities that require high levels of coordination. (source)
Playing Video Games Improves Your Problem Solving Abilities
The next benefit of playing video games is that they can improve your ability to solve problems. While some games are linear and often only contain one right answer to a problem, other games allow players to choose from a variety of solutions or come up with their own solution altogether.
The result? Gamers are well accustomed to logical thinking and problem-solving. Here are a few of the ways that video games improve your problem-solving abilities:
Decisions In Video Games Have Consequences
The fact that video gamers face real consequences for their actions is a powerful motivator for them to think about carefully about the solutions they want to implement, especially if they’re playing any type of team game where other players might be let down by their failure.
While sometimes the consequences might only involve losing the in-game currency they’ve spent the last ten minutes collecting or the rare weapon they’ve finally procured, the motivation to avoid these negative results pushes players to constantly improve their problem-solving skills.
Video Games Allow for Trial and Error
Another way that video games improve your problem-solving skills is by providing a safe environment for trial and error. If a player fails to overcome a difficult challenge, they can simply go back to their last save and try again. They can repeat this process until they’ve figured out a solution that brings them their desired results.
Video Games Encourage Creative Solutions to Problems
As touched on previously, many video games these days allow players to experiment with the ways that they complete any particular task. A good example of this comes from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In this game, there are small enemy encampments spread all throughout an open world environment. Each of these encampments provides at least two or three different ways for players to address the conflicts by using the abilities they have. This allows players to choose solutions that suit their personal playing style and conserve their in-game resources as they see fit. (source)
Playing Video Games Makes You More Strategic
A study performed by scientists from the University College of London and the Queen Mary University of London determined that playing strategic video games such as StarCraft, a top-down strategy game, can improve your cognitive flexibility. (source)
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to quickly shift from thinking about one thing to another thing, and it directly impacts your ability to think creatively and strategically.
Much like chess or other traditional games, video games often demand that players think and plan numerous steps ahead in order to gain an advantage over the challenge or opponent they face.
However, different from chess, the decision making and strategic planning in video games lend itself more directly to real-world scenarios, such as conserving and gathering resources, considering the positive or negative effects of weather cycles, and traversal distances.
Given that strategic thinking can benefit every facet of our lives, playing video games might someday become a tool used alongside classroom textbooks.
Playing Video Games Teaches You to Work With a Team
Most of the popular online games today have a strong emphasis on teamwork. Games like Halo, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and many more, all require players to function as a unit in order to defeat opposing teams.
In these games, victory can hinge on whether or not each player does their part. This in turn, encourages players to set aside their egos and focus on winning together, or risk not winning at all.
When jumping into a random online match where you are randomly assigned teammates who may or may not be using a headset and be willing to cooperate with any type of team strategy, you probably won’t experience very much teamwork.
However, many gamers form close-knit groups of friends that they’ll play with online. Because they are able to strategize in advance and execute plans with the help of additional communication, teams such as these almost always defeat discombobulated opposing teams.
So, the next time someone tells you you’re a hermit for staying inside playing games all day, you can tell them about all the friends you’ve made in different countries just from online gaming!
Playing Video Games Can Improve Relationships
The next reason video games are good for you is because they can greatly improve relationships in your life! Video games, much like any hobby, are something that brings people together. Upon meeting a stranger and learning that they’re an avid gamer, I instantly have a hundred different things that I can talk about with them.
Growing up, my older brother and I certainly had our differences. But at the end of the day, we always had a good time trying to beat each other in Super Smash Brothers, Halo, or Dragon Ball Z.
It’s become somewhat of a tradition for us to break out the old Nintendo 64 whenever we’re together to play a few rounds. While we might not say much while we’re actually playing, other than the occasional trash talk, of course, we create shared experiences that we can talk about later.
I’ve had the same type of experience gaming with my wife. While many couples watch movies or TV shows, playing video games is a way for you and your significant other to improve your communication skills and work together to achieve a unified goal. I’m not saying that video games are a replacement for couples therapy, but they might not be a bad place to start!
In my early teens, my family moved states, forcing me to leave all of the friends I grew up with. While this was difficult, I was able to improve and maintain many of those friendships by playing online games with them long after I moved away.
Playing Video Games Can Improve Your Social Skills
In modern-day media, gamers are usually portrayed as super pale, unhealthy, and antisocial individuals. While each of these things might be true of someone who regularly overindulges in video games, they certainly aren’t the norm for the majority of gamers.
The gamers that I’ve known have been some of the most social and outgoing people that I’ve met. One of my best friends growing up was relatively reserved around most people in public, but when he played online games, he opened up, laughed, and formed a lot of friendships. Modern-day gaming is a highly social activity that can most definitely help people improve their social skills. (source)
Playing Video Games Encourages Creativity
Rather than turning kids into mindless zombies, many games encourage kids to be highly creative. This is done either by giving them the ability to shape their gameplay experience through choices or by using the game itself as a tool to create something.
The human brain grows stronger much like our muscles. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Video games are like a virtual jungle gym for your mind, helping it grow and work in new ways. I’ve experienced this first hand when playing games as I’ve seen noticeable improvements in my creative problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Even many games that you wouldn’t think would encourage creativity at a glance are now including game modes that allow players to create their own playable levels that they can share with their friends.
Games like DREAMS by Media Molecule take things to the next level by including a full suite of creative tools for players to do things like sculpting, painting, music production, coding, and animation. All of which are skills that could be turned into a career path.
Playing Video Games Can Burn Calories
Video games are certainly no substitute for getting fresh air, but in recent years they have become increasingly active.
Most consoles these days have accessories and games that require players to stand up and be active in order to use them. VR headsets are taking things to the next level by creating a fully immersive gaming experience where players are able to physically walk around to explore game worlds.
It stands to be mentioned that the act of playing a video game can burn significant calories. A study was conducted concerning horror movies that concluded that people burn an average of 113 calories while watching them.
If you play many games in the horror genre, you’ll know that the average game can last far longer than a typical movie, meaning you’re potentially burning hundreds of calories in an extensive gaming session. (source)
Playing Video Games Can Reduce Stress and Depression
Before you sign up for a yoga class to destress after work, why not try gaming? Studies like this one have shown that there is a correlation between playing video games after a long day of work and reducing stress, aggressive behavior, and depression.
Further studies need to be conducted in these areas, however, it’s believed that video games will one day be used for therapeutic purposes to help with these areas.
While I’ve never done any formal experiments myself to test these results, I can certainly attest to gaming as a great stress reliever. After an 8 hour shift, even a short gaming session can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle other tasks.
When it comes to gaming and depression, psychologists have noted that when we’re at play, we experience improved emotions and higher energy levels. Quite the contrast to depression.
Video games are all about play. They transport those who play them to incredible worlds where they’re given supernatural abilities, and opportunities to shape the experience as they see fit. Video games provide a safe and empowering environment for those who struggle with depression to work through their problems
Playing Video Games Can Improve Your Eyesight
One study concluded that playing action video games can actually improve your eyesight in an area that is used to help us navigate dark environments and read.
The area that experiences these enhancements is called contrast sensitivity function. Contrast sensitivity function is what helps human eyes make distinctions between subtly different shades of colors against a solid backdrop.
This ability helps us clearly make out obstructions while driving at night or walking through a dark room, and when it isn’t functioning properly can make tasks like watching television and reading more tiresome for your eyes.
Unfortunately, it’s common for contrast sensitivity function to decrease as we age. But the good news is that video games have been shown to improve this ability, and potentially prevent it as the body ages.
Another thing to be noted about video games and eyesight before move onto the next point is that they can improve your ability to accurately track the movements of multiple objects at once. While this skill might not seem like much, it can be highly useful for vocations such as security surveillance, air traffic controllers, and more.
Playing Video Games Can Reduce Pain
The Amerian Pain Society conducted an experiment that concluded that playing video games can help negate the brain’s response to feeling physical pain.
The most logical explanation for this is that as we play video games, our minds become distracted, and we momentarily forget about any physical discomfort. However, it’s believed that gaming can reduce pain on a deeper level given the positive results that studies have shown. (source)
The more immersive a game is, the better it can serve as a pain reliever. The advancements of virtual reality technology and the highly immersive experiences that this technology creates for players make it likely that it might someday be used in hospitals for patients going through painful treatments.
Playing Video Games Can Be Educational
While the common consensus among parents has been that video games rot your brain, the opposite is true. Video games can be powerful tools for teaching new things to both young and old minds alike.
Here are a few of the things that you can learn from playing video games:
There is no shortage of historical video games these days. The most popular of which come from the Assassin’s Creed series. These games have large open-world environments with accurately recreated historic landmarks and plenty of dialogue that gives players an idea of what’s transpiring in the time period around them.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
As mentioned previously, video games are incredible tools for teaching and learning how to think critically and solve difficult problems. Due to their hands-on and visual nature, the lessons learned in video games are far less likely to fade with time.
Artistic and Creative Skills
Many games these days blur the lines between games and full-fledged creative tools by allowing playings to create their own levels, build kingdoms out of cubes, and even create music. Who knows! The next Picasso among us might just be a gamer.
While some might laugh at the idea of Mario Kart making people better real-world drivers, there might actually be some substance to video games improving driving skills. Numerous driving games today have been created with impressively accurate driving mechanics, making them useful for introducing driving concepts to beginners.
Playing Video Games Can Improve Your Ability to Focus
Video games can be very difficult and unforgiving depending upon the game you’re playing. The stakes feel very real when you’ve spent the last 30 minutes fighting a boss and only have a sliver of your health bar remaining.
Because of the intense emotions and accuracy required in gaming, player’s must have a high level of focus throughout the experience if they want any hope of success.
As gamers play intense games day after day, their abilities to stay focused on the task at hand improves and results in better scores.
Playing Video Games Can Improve Your Memory
Studies have shown that playing 3D video games can improve our ability to form memories according to a study from the University of California.
In this study, they had two groups of people play either 2D games or 3D games for a couple of weeks. After this time, they had the participants take memory tests.
They found that those who had played 3D games every day had an improved memory performance of 12 percent compared to those who played the 2D games. (source)
While playing video games certainly has its benefits, it’s important to note that anything in excess can quickly become bad for you. If you don’t eat, sleep, or leave your home because you’re constantly playing games, then it’s time to make some changes.
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