Despite what you may have been told as a child, there are, in fact, benefits to playing video games. From basic health and cognitive improvements to spatial awareness and memory retention, there are plenty of awesome benefits linked to gaming. In this article, our experts list the proven benefits of video games.
Year after year, more scientific studies come out in support of video games and their positive effect on health and human performance. This is welcome news for those of us who were raised on the idea that video games were harmful, brain-melting distractions from our homework or chores.While video gaming can be a lot of fun, there are many benefits that are associated with it. New research suggests that video games can even increase the size of our brains. However, like most things, video games can also be abused. That is why we must caution our readers to not misinterpret this research—playing too many video games can still be extremely harmful.Are you ready to find out how you can benefit from your next gaming session? In this article, we will discuss the various benefits of video games and how you can get a little self-improvement done by grabbing your controller and gaming out on the couch.
Video Games 101
Before delving into the details, it is important to state that video games, as a genre, are far from a monolith. This is because video games have come a long way since they were first popularized in the 1970s. While the high-tech, graphically-enhanced games of today help refine motor patterns and develop critical thinking skills, they were not always this way.The early days of video gaming emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as simple 2D single-player games.
Basic computer programs like Pong were played on early IBM computers and, later, on home Atari video game consoles using joysticks. It was not until the 1980s and the rise of video arcades when modern gaming started to take shape.During the 1980s, the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sparked an interested in household multi-player gaming. However, these games were still quite basic by today’s standards. It was not until the rise of 3D gaming in the 1990s with the release of the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 that the complexity of modern video games emerged.Today, mobile and handheld gaming are becoming increasingly popular, and games are becoming even more complex. Online gaming is now the new standard, with competitive video games and esports taking the spotlight in recent years. With new high-powered, big-budget
games being released every year, the demands (and benefits) they impose on players continue to increase.
The Benefits of Video Games
Believe it or not, the relationship between people and video games is a reciprocal one: just asd evelopers program video games, video games program their players. Here are some of the most surprising evidence-based benefits of video games that you will glad to know are real.
Improved Vision One of the main benefits of video games is their effect on vision.
Although children were once constantly reminded to not “sit too close to the television,” the rise of modern LCD and LED HD TVs have largely removed the retina-straining qualities of old big-box TV sets.Today,watching HD TVs in strict moderation can even train our eyesight to improve.A recent study showed that, after a 10-week period of video gaming, research participants were able to better differentiate between color shades. Also, those with “lazy” eyes also showed considerable improvement in coordinating their lazy eye with their “good” eye.
An Appreciation for Knowledge and History When we were kids, we were avid video gamers. One of our favorite games was the 1990sclassic “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” which instilled a lifelong love of world history.When children are immersed in video game worlds that are inspired by real historical research,their experience often sparks an interest in the history and culture depicted in the game.
Physical Fitness (Yes, Really!)The video games of today involve more body movement than ever. With the advent of the Nintendo Wii in 2006, video games have started to require the player to use their bodies and to get up off the couch to play the game. Today, virtual reality games and whole-body motion sensors are pushing the envelope even further by requiring total bodily integration.Better yet, sports games are inspiring players, young and old alike, to take an interest in organized sports. The popular NBA 2K series, and the FIFA, Madden, and NHL games made by Electronic Arts have encouraged many people to try out pick-up sports games or even join a community sports league.
Improve Cognition in Older Adults
A groundbreaking 2009 study in the scientific journal Geron technology found that digital action-adventure video games can produce several key cognitive benefits for older adults. As we age,our ability to recall memories, learn new skills, and perform other executive functions, starts to decline. However, this study indicates that gaming can reverse this process.In the study, the research participants (aged 65 or older) played video games in a clinical setting.
Through the course of the study, they were closely watched by the scientific investigators who found that their brain “elasticity” improved by the end of the study period.
Can Help Improve Therapy Sessions When used in a clinical setting by physiotherapists or psychotherapists, video games can exert a major positive effect on their players. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that incorporating video games resulted in an improvement in 69% of psychological therapy outcomes and 59% of physical therapy outcomes.
Improves Self-Management of Pain In the same study cited above, the researchers reviewed 38 studies written on the subject of pain management in a clinical setting. The researchers found that clinicians that incorporated video games into their practice were able to help 195 patients better manage their pain-related symptoms.
Improves Coordination It has long been assumed that video games, like sports, can improve hand-eye coordination.While this is true, the science on the subject has found that video games go even further by encouraging visual, audial, and physical stimulation simultaneously. The consequence is that players develop better all-around sensory coordination.
Enhanced Problem-Solving The days of 2D Donkey Kong and Super Mario World are over. Today, video games involve complex three-dimensional puzzles and mini-games that challenge players in unique,multifaceted ways. When players attempt to overcome these challenges in-game, they are subconsciously honing their high-level problem-solving skills that can be used in the real world.
Improves Memory For years, video games have required players to remember key aspects of the story to overcome puzzles or challenges. Ever since the rise of major adventure games, like the Legend
of Zelda series in the 1990s, video games have demanded an increasing amount of memory retention for players to excel at them. From memorizing maps to attack combinations, the role of memory looms large over all aspects of modern gaming.
Refines Social Skills For a long time, video games were a largely asocial pastime. Until multiplayer and online gaming caught on, video games were mostly played by one person at a time. However, more recently video games have changed to allow multiple players to face each other head-to-head or on a team. When video game players play together, they are given the opportunity to talk among each other. In competitive gaming, opposing players usually engage in “trash talking”. However, teammates often share conversations about in-game strategy as well as regular everyday conversations about whatever they choose.In this way, video games now present a unique opportunity for gamers to build casual relationships with other gamers online. With the addition of in-game Friends Lists and other features, gamers can now stay in touch with each other in the long-term and possibly development life-long friendships.
Improves MS Symptoms Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most horrific degenerative diseases in existence. Although scientific breakthroughs are regularly made toward discovering new treatments, there is no cure for the disease. However, new science indicates that video games can help MS patients overcome some of their symptoms, such as imbalance and vertigo by playing skill-based games on a balance board.
Reduces Stress For some of us, gaming itself can be a stressful activity. This is especially true for those of uswho like to play competitive online games like Call of Duty or League of Legends. However,casual gaming has never been more popular. Today, mobile games and other basic single-player games can help players unwind and reduce stress.There is some evidence to suggest that easy, single-player games can diminish stress responses in the brain (epinephrine and cortisol) by up to 50 percent. It seems that these players were not playing Call of Duty.
Can Quicken Reaction Time
Video games move quickly and often require the player to respond to an in-game situation within a split second. That is why it is so important for players to develop fast response times to in-game visual and auditory signals. Outside of the game world, players can employ these skills to react quickly to real-life scenarios too.