Video-games arouse all kinds of emotions in who plays them, as well as judgments and prejudices across who does not. Usually they are associated with violent or antisocial behaviour even though numerous studies have shown for years the advantages of video games for those who practice them. It is the case of an analysis performed by a group of psychologists and recently presented by the BBC, which demonstrates how video games can change (for the better) the way our minds work.
Benefits of Video Games For Kids & Adults
Video games are often dismissed as unsophisticated or the domain of couch potatoes, but did you know that many common elements of these simulated worlds can provide tangible benefits in real life? Benefits of video games for both children and adults include:
- Video games can improve manual dexterity.
Controller-based games can be great for your hands. In a study involving a group of surgeons, researchers found that those who played video games were faster at performing advanced procedures and made 37 percent fewer mistakes than those who didn’t. Special video games have also been used as physical therapy to help stroke victims regain control of their hands and wrists.
- Video games can increase your brain’s gray matter.
Gaming is really a workout for your mind disguised as fun. Studies have shown that playing video games regularly may increase gray matter in the brain and boost brain connectivity. (Gray matter is associated with muscle control, memories, perception, and spatial navigation.)
- Gamers may have better social skills.
The stereotype of a shy person who uses video games as a way to escape is not what the average gamer looks like. Past research involving children found that those who played more video games were more likely to have good social skills, perform better academically, and to have built better relationships with other students because of the social and collaborative component to some types of games.
- Games can teach you to be a better problem solver.
Open-world, mission-based, and multi-level games are designed like complex puzzles that take several hours to solve. Occasionally, the solution varies based on your actions in the game. Learning to think on your feet and strategise in a fast-paced fantasy environment is a skill that can translate to the real world. One long-term study published in 2013 showed that children who played strategy-based games showed an improvement in problem-solving skills—and thus, tended to get better grades—the next school year.
- You can become more physically active as a gamer.
Most major consoles now have the technology to get gamers off of the couch and onto their feet. The future of VR gaming will take things to a whole new level. Mobile game programmers have also started to create games that are played across physical space, building them around real-world location data and inspiring gamers to relocate in order to advance in the virtual world.
- Video games can improve your vision.
As long as you’re not staring at the screen for 10 hours straight (or sitting two feet away), playing video games can actually make for better vision. In one study, 10 male students who were not gamers were trained for 30 hours in first-person action games and then tested against 10 non-gamers. The students who played were able to see objects more clearly in cluttered spaces because of improved spatial resolution. They were able to train their brains to see smaller details, because in each game, those details turned out to be important.
- Video games can have mental health benefits.
Studies have shown that some video games can boost mood and make for better heart rhythms—a sign that they may also help relieve stress. The correlation (not causality) between video games and stress has been reflected in numerous unrelated studies, which is why video games have been used in therapy for over a decade.
- They’re a fun way to get tricked into learning.
There are videos games on just about everything. Early on, developers realized that video games could be used to improve reading and math skills. Today, there are games that incorporate world history, cooking, politics, chemistry, architecture, and other topics you may not have been exposed to in school.
- Video games can inspire you to be more persistent.
With video games you either win or you keep trying, learning from your mistakes as you progress until you reach the goal. Because of this, some researchers and educators argue that video games can teach people to be more confident and to work towards their goals, treating each misstep as just another learning opportunity.
- Faster and More Accurate Decision-Making
Another pro of gaming is the ability to make more accurate decisions in a much quicker fashion.
Players of video games will tell you that several games prompt you to make your decisions quickly based on the information you receive from the game itself. Fast-paced games, in particular, contributed to a gamer’s ability to make quick decisions.
Some games, especially competitive ones where you play against other players, can be punishing if you make a wrong decision. For example, the game Call of Duty involves fast-paced action, and you need to make the right decisions at the right time to win.
Again, this skill can be crucial in several fields of work, such as in the army or in the hospital, where you need to make fast and accurate decisions based on the facts and information you have, especially when you have limited time.
- You See More Detail
Video games and eyesight quality is still a hotly debated topic. Some studies tell us that excessive screen time causes eyestrain and might even hurt your eyes. In contrast, other studies show us that video games can improve your ability to see details in your sight, especially in your periphery.
Studies that show excessive screen time is harmful find you may experience negative effects such as eye strain, headaches, loss of focus flexibility, nearsightedness, and even retinal damage.
On the other hand, playing video games might improve your ability to see more details in your eyesight, especially in your periphery. This development of your eyes might help you drive better and perform various tasks that include driving.
It’s essential to stay within the recommended screen time guidelines for all ages since too much screen time may cause damage to your eyes. However, if you play games in moderation, you might even be able to see some positive effects on your eyesight.
- Games Promote Social Activity and Teamwork
Video games can promote teamwork and social engagement with other players, making it a modern form of socialization for kids and young adults.
Some games can force you to cooperate with other players, making video games a beneficial exercise for team-building and establishing social connections with other players.
Also, several games present the opportunity to make new friends and connect to them in ways that no other medium does, including the chance to meet people from all over the world.
However, excessive playtime can lead to increased isolation and loneliness, which are linked to mental health problems like depression and social anxiety. Although gaming is a social outlet for many individuals, and making new friends from different cultures is possible, a balance of in-game contacts and real-life friendships is crucial.
- Games Improve Cognitive Functions
Video games have shown to improve your cognitive abilities, such as:
Visuospatial ability (the ability to recognize objects around you and estimate the distances between them)
Increased processing speed
For example, a study from 2018 included 170 participants. In the study, one group was made up of gamers, while the other group was non-gamers.
Both groups received the same questionnaire with questions and assignments that would test their cognitive abilities. The group of gamers showed better results in almost every field of the test.
- Games Improve Problem-Solving Skills and Logic
Video games involve a lot of critical thinking, problem-solving, and the use of logic.
As a gamer, you have to work your way through the game by using specific skills to achieve the game’s goals.
Gamers have more grey matter and better brain connectivity than non-gamers, resulting from extensive playtime requiring problem-solving skills.
Developing these skills in video games may translate into better job performance or improved performance in school.
- Improved Hand-to-Eye Coordination
Playing video games improves your hand-to-eye coordination, making you more capable of performing tasks that involve coordination of your eyes and your hands.
These tasks can include everything from everyday tasks such as driving, typing, or performing manual tasks with your hands to professional skills like performing surgeries.
These improvements were confirmed by a study from 2007, which involved laparoscopic surgery trainees that also played video games. The study found that surgeons who played video games regularly had higher accuracy and could complete tasks faster than non-gamers.
Note:Despite several benefits of playing video games, there are also many disadvantages of video games that might impact the quality of your life.
These are the most common cons of video games:
Video games can make you addicted
Elevated risk of aggression
Games replace real-world problems
Some games promote gambling
Decreased physical and mental health
Lack of focus and concentration
As good as the positive effects of games might be, the negative effects of video games can outweigh the pros if you develop a gaming addiction.
Video Games Can Make You Addicted
The first and the biggest problem with video games is that they can make you addicted.
Video game addiction is a rising problem and likely to increase in the future. The World Health Organization has recognized gaming disorder as an actual mental health condition, and global prevalence is around 3-4% of gamers. Considering that there are about 3 billion gamers globally, the number of addicted gamers is estimated to be between 90 – 100 million.
One of the main reasons behind the pandemic of video game addiction is that video games are designed to be addictive. They provide instant gratification and encourage gamers to keep playing every day. Players who play every day may even receive bonuses and special rewards in encouraging them to play even more.
But the concept of addictive video games is even more complicated. They manipulate several aspects of our psychology, such as:
Progression of our in-game character, which replaces real-life personal development
Loot boxes, microtransactions, and in-app purchases encourage you to keep spending more money
Socializing virtually with other players replaces real-world friendships and connections
In-game mechanics that link gaming to gambling
Once a video game becomes an addiction, it will far outweigh all the pros of video games. It will impact your professional life, personal development, and interpersonal relations.