Whether or not video games are good for you isn’t the first question when trying to take out another player in WarZone or jumping over brightly colored obstacles in Fall Guys. Nonetheless, video games have been a contentious subject ever since their introduction to the world. What’s clear is that the violent content of many action-based games continues to concern people worldwide.
Thankfully, the discourse around video games has come a long way since the nineties. Today, the average gamer is thirty-five, and it’s estimated that over two and a half million people worldwide play video games – a number that’s expected to increase as gaming becomes more advanced, varied, and mainstream.
In this article, you will learn what trusted Research says about video games’ health and social benefits and how they might affect your life.
Video Games Can Improve Focus and Language Skills
Focus is essential for success in the workplace and as a student. Some research shows that just one hour of gaming per day positively affects cognitive abilities, particularly in visual selective activity, which is the brain’s ability to manage visual information and block distractions.
It is probably no surprise that playing video games can also improve reading skills for regular video game players. Not only is there plenty of on-screen text, but many games also include letters and other material that players can read as they progress through any given video game.
Surveys say that children in the UK found that 79% of children who play video games also read content related to the game. In comparison, 35% reported that gaming benefited their reading skills.
Another study suggests that action video games can positively affect dyslexia, particularly regarding word reading and phonological decoding speeds, with no loss of accuracy.
Immersive Video Games Can Develop Your Empathy
Empathy is a valuable tool for understanding others. It’s a cornerstone of emotional intelligence that is also an essential part of the skill set for career success.
So then, how do video games affect this important trait? Here it is important to note that there are many different genres of video games – a Disney movie isn’t the same as a Tarantino one, for example. Thus, it is necessary to distinguish between different types of fun, and the characters involved, to understand how our empathy is affected.
Video games with complex, immersive stories and well-defined characters give players a compelling experience and an opportunity to be someone else. In the study cited above, 65% of the respondents felt that playing video games helped them imagine what it was like to be somebody else, which is the first step to empathy.
Video Games Help Build Social Skills
Relationships contribute significantly to mental wellbeing and happiness. Playing video games socially is an excellent way to spend time with friends and connect with people across the globe. Crucially, there are often cooperative elements to games that help gamers improve their team-building skills and learn how to support one another effectively to complete or indeed win the game.
Leadership skills can also be developed through gaming. Tenacity, group management, and organizational skills are all positively affected.
However, there is a flip side to the positive social effects of gaming. Studies of video game addiction show people with lower social skills are disproportionately affected, although the distinction between cause and causality is very much open to debate.
Gaming Can Improve Your Vision
Parental threats of developing square eyes from watching television for too long have been debunked. Research into video games and vision has shown that players’ eyes benefit from video game activity. It is even possible that doctors might prescribe video games in the future to aid in eye recovery.
Action games were the best for eye improvement, most likely due to the fast-paced environments players must keenly analyze.
Playing Video Games Improves Problem-Solving Skills
In her widely-watched Ted presentation, video game researcher and developer Jane McGonigal stated that video game players were out-of-the-box thinkers due to their experience of constantly failing in the pursuit of winning.
Studies show that video gaming experiences reflect real-life problem-solving approaches, thus allowing players to analyze their strategies and safely develop them. Similar studies also indicate that gamers benefit from increased brain grey matter. Therefore, it is not at all too surprising then that planning, organizing, and flexible thinking can all be improved by gaming.
Video Games Can Positively Impact Your Mental Health
Several video games have been designed with mental health in mind. Psychology suggests playing video games can enhance life satisfaction and improve mental wellbeing.
When people play video games, they often become profoundly engrossed and enter a rejuvenating flow state. Furthermore, as has already been pointed out, games provide an opportunity for players to connect with friends and improve their communication skills, both of which are important in terms of overall general wellbeing. These combined elements lead to improved mood, higher self-esteem, and reduced stress.
In moderation, video games aren’t dangerous vices or lazy indulgences, and most early critics have since been proven wrong.
Although it is essential to be mindful of your gaming relationship, studies prove that video games can be of immense practical benefit. They can improve functional skills at school, in the workforce, and in broader society.