The debate about whether video games are good or bad for us has been going on since the days of Pong and Space Invaders..
Are video games good for you? Or do video games really hinder our ability to learn, make us more violent and affect our physical health?
While there is still not enough evidence to provide a solid answer, the good news is that most researchers are discovering that games can be good for us.
What are the benefits of gaming?
The benefits of gaming include promoting a healthy lifestyle, increasing social activity, slowing down the aging process and making the participant a better decision maker.
Do video games have any positive effects?
Yes, video games can have amazingly positive effects. Gaming can help people suffering from addictions or cravings to reduce the intensity of their desires. They may also be able to help people with multiple sclerosis with balance and improved cognitive function.
Why are video games advantageous?
Video games are useful because of the way they deal with different facets of our daily lives. Some of the benefits are physical, psychological and social. Contrary to popular belief, they can promote healthy living and increased social activity through different means.
Games like Call of Duty and Splinter Cell multiplayer can help forge friendships and bonds that last for years. Things like the Wii Fit can promote a better lifestyle, keep someone active and achieve their dietary goals daily.
This article shows you 10 reasons why video games are good for you.
Before you read on, please note that all too much can be harmful.
No benefit of a video game will justify playing them 10 hours a day.
It’s your responsibility to figure out how long you have to play before you put down the controller and do something else, no matter how hard that may be.
1. Video games can slow down aging
Male, female, young adult, middle-aged person – they all have one thing in common and that is getting older.
And although getting older and wiser has its advantages, there are also some natural problems that arise.
There’s a reason you’ll see seniors driving at 25 MPH, even though the speed limit is 45.
But just as maintaining a healthy exercise routine can help your body feel 50 when you’re 60, our brains can also be kept in shape.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa has even shown that playing games can do just that.
In the study, 681 healthy people aged 50 and over played 10 hours of a particular video game for five to eight weeks, and this is what they discovered:
“We have shown that 10 hours is enough to slow the decline by several years. We saw a range in all our tests from at least one and a half years to about six and a half years of recovery or improvement. From only 10 to 14 hours of training, that’s quite a lot of improvement”.
It seems that performing every task you need to practice your mind for will help you stay sharper, and so will video games. If you’ve ever done a crossword or sudoku, you already know the benefits of gaming. Video games can train your brain, open new thinking paths in your brain, and keep your mind sharp
2. Better decision maker
C. Shawn Green of the University of Rochester wanted to see how games affect our ability to make decisions. His goal was to test whether games, which require us to view and track moving peripheral images, improve our ability to receive sensory data and thus help us make more accurate decisions.
In the study, a group of young adults with no gaming experience played an action game for 50 hours. A second group of the same age played a slow strategy game instead.
After the study, Green came to the following conclusion:
“Action video games move fast and peripheral images and events appear that pop up and disappear. These video games teach people to get better at recording sensory data and translate it into right decisions.
3. Gaming can help your eyesight
There are very few gamer kids who grew up without ever hearing their parents say “you’re going to look blind at that screen all day”.
For a while it seemed like they had a point, as we tend to blink much less often while playing a game.
This can cause serious problems, such as eye strain and dry-eye syndrome.
Another team of researchers from the University of Rochester tried to prove whether games really worsened our vision.
The 2009 study included a group of experienced first-person shootergamers who played Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament 2004, while more casual gamers played slow games like The Sims 2.
After testing, those who played the first-person shooters showed signs of a better view than the others.
Daphne Bavelier, the leader of the study, discovered that playing action games improves a skill called contrast sensitivity.
This ability helps us to distinguish changes in shades of gray against a colored background, which is very beneficial while driving at night.
4. Video games can make you less antisocial
One of the worst stereotypes associated with playing video games is that those who do are clumsy social rejections.
Even if there are enough gamers in the basement, that doesn’t mean all gamers have problems socializing in public and making friends.
Researchers from three different institutions in the UK and Canada recently conducted their own research to find out how common antisocial behaviour is in gamers.
What everyone discovered is that gamers who participate in live social environments are actually the most communicative and friendly people there.
“Gamers are not the antisocial cellar dwellers we see in the stereotypes of pop culture; they’re very social people”,’ said one of the researchers who went to more than twenty events where gamers meet. ”
While observing gamers, he even admitted that they had built stronger relationships than non-gamers because of their matching love of games. (Source)
5. Games can increase your learning ability
Contrary to popular belief that video games make you bad in school, UK researchers found that certain video games can increase our brain flexibility.
The study was conducted at both University College London and Queen Mary University of London and 72 volunteers played two different games for 40 hours over six to eight weeks.
The games were Starcraft, a fast real-time strategy game, and The Sims, a slower lifesimulation game.
Here’s what they had to say:
“This result supports the idea that game manipulation within StarCraft led participants to manage more resources while playing games, leading to improvements in cognitive flexibility.”
In other words, the people who played Starcraft boast better cognitive flexibility, as the game requires constant thinking and input from the player.
6. Help improve hand-eye coordination
There are many professions that require better hand-eye coordination than the average person.
Surgeons, of course, depend on them not only to perform a successful operation, but also to ensure that they do not inkerpent an artery or vital organ.
That is why many aspiring surgeons now have to perform virtual operations for training.
Wondering who could perform better in these virtual operations, scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch brought together a group of high school students, students and medical residents.
After testing the three groups to see who would outdo the others, the scientists were surprised to discover that the high school students did the best.
Put simply, the high school children played video games for at least two hours a day, while medical residents rarely had time to play.
While one of the researchers insists that the residents would still do better in an actual surgery, the study is one of many that proves that our favorite games can help improve our hand-eye coordination.
7. Improved focus and attention
One of the biggest concerns of parents today is that their kids are in class thinking about Minecraft and Pokemon instead of listening to the teacher.
To see if games helped children pay more attention instead by improving cognition and perception, a researcher named Vikranth Bejjanki and several colleagues conducted a few experiments.
In these tests, two groups of experienced and inexperienced gamers first had to perform different perceptual tasks, such as pattern discrimination.
In the end, the gamers performed better than the other group that rarely, if ever, played games before the experiment.
The paper concludes with the following:
“Improved learning of the regularity and structure of environments can act as a core mechanism through which playing action video games affects performance in terms of perception, attention, and cognition.”
In other words, playing games improves different skills, including paying attention.
8. Video games can help treat depression
A few years ago, researchers in New Zealand were looking into whether video games could be used to treat mental disorders such as depression.
This was done with SPARX, a game specifically designed to give therapy to teens in a way that is more active and fun than regular counseling.
More than 168 teens with an average age of 15 participated, and they all had previous signs of depression.
While half of the group received traditional counseling, the other group received SPARX. The game involves creating avatars to rid the virtual world of enemies who represent bleak, negative thoughts.
Each stage also introduced general facts about depression, including ways to relax and deal with negative emotions.
Here’s their conclusion after they found that SPARX players did better at recovering from depression than the other group:
“SPARX is a possible alternative to the usual care for adolescents with depressive symptoms in primary care and can be used to address some of the unmet demand for treatment”
9. Video games can help you stay fit
Of all the benefits of video games on this list, this is the one most people already know.
This is probably attributed to Nintendo’s Wii system that introduced motion control gaming to players around the world. Active games such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit can still be found in hospitals and retirement homes to this day.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center recently conducted a test to see how much better active games are for children compared to activities like watching TV and surfing the Internet.
Tests included measuring heart rate, self-reported exercise and energy consumption of children aged 10 to 13 years while performing three specific activities. The team found that playing motion-control games was as beneficial as walking on a treadmill at a speed of 3.5 mph..
In both exercises, the children burned the same amount of calories, which was nearly three times more than the children who only watched Netflix.
10. Video games can help couples
While there are plenty of ways couples can have fun and relax together, psychologists at the University of Denver wanted to know if playing video games was one of them.
This is an interesting study because research shows that men care more about this part of a relationship than women.
At the same time, it is known that most boys only play games or with other male friends – not so much their girlfriend, wife, etc.
The study, which actually began in 1996, showed 200 couples in their second year of marriage decide which aspect of their relationship was most important.
Their answers showed a strong correlation between the importance of participating in fun, exciting activities together and a good relationship.
Howard Markman, one of the psychologists involved in the study, said this:
“The more you invest in fun and friendship and be there for your partner, the happier the relationship will become over time.”
So while the experiment did not include video games, it serves to prove that couples who play games together generally have happier, healthier relationships.