How many times have you heard your parents or even your spouse telling you to stop playing too many video games? It seems that statement is heard by anyone who loves video games at one time or another. While you should never take it to the extreme, recent studies into video games are painting a much different picture from what many may think about games.
While I’m not saying if you play Call of Duty twenty hours a day you are actually helping yourself, there are many different types of games out there that can actually be used to improve yourself. Hell, even with the violence of some video games, they can often play a positive role in your life despite what some overly protective parents and so-called moral leaders may say about them.
Benefits of Video Games
The general public may have a belief that too many video games is a problem, newer studies say something very different. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of video games and how your digital life may actually help you out in the real world when letting off some steam on your trusty gaming laptop.
You may not age as fast.
This one goes out to the brain teaser games. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those puzzles that really make you think if you want to get through to the next level. These games have shown to have a positive benefit on your brain with one study showing that just 10 hours of play in people age 50 and older increased their cognitive functions. What does that mean to you? If you want to stay sharp, log onto Facebook and start playing Candy Crush.
Games can improve your career.
Certain types of games reward players who take on leadership roles within the game. Today many games are online and social and players who take control and lead can begin to develop their leadership skills and even improve their people skills. This can then translate into better performance in the workplace as they take these skills they learned to their jobs when they head into work every morning. Games also force you to think more quickly, the ability to think on your feet can help you make quicker decisions in the workplace getting you noticed by upper management.
Games can reduce your pain.
If you have just had surgery or if you have injured yourself, chances are you are probably in a bit of pain. Now you could take pain pills, the benefits of which are debated as well and not the subject of this blog, but you could also play video games. One of the best ways to get past pain is to distract yourself from focusing on it. Video games engage our minds in ways that other systems simply can’t touch. Because of this they can take the focus of your mind from your injury and the pain and to the video game making you forget the pain, at least for a little while.
They reduce stress.
While some games are designed to induce stress and really get your heart pumping, video games have also been shown to help reduce your stress levels as well. Some games have actually been shown to relax you by reducing the adrenaline response by as much as 50 percent. At the same time they are a great distraction, preventing you from focusing on whatever happens to be stressing you out.
They create better surgeons.
While you may think you want your surgeon studying the latest medical research and techniques, you may want them to spend some time playing games as well. Studies have shown that small incision specialists who play at least 3 hours of video games a week actually make 32 percent fewer errors compared to surgeons who don’t play video games. This is most likely due to the improvements in hand/eye coordination that you get from intense gaming sessions.
Games can help you make social connections.
While most people think of gamers as loners, the opposite is actually true today. Almost every game today is multiplayer. This means that gamers are constantly making connections with people around the world. These gamers come together to solve problems and form a strategy to win a game against their opponents who are also usually human as well. This provides meaningful social interactions and can even create lifelong friends and companions. It is great for the disabled as well, as it is often difficult for them to get out and meet new people simply because of their mobility problems. Games provide a place they can go to meet and interact with people on a level never seen before.
Games help you see better.
What? I thought sitting too close to the television was bad. Well, that little tidbit aside, studies have shown that games can actually help your vision, not hurt it, providing you don’t stick your nose against the monitor. In moderation, games have been shown to help you see things like shades of color much better and have even helped people with a “lazy” eye improve its function.
They help kids be more physical.
This almost sounds like an oxymoron. After all, games make you sit in one location for long periods of time. How can that help you be more physical? In fact, some games such as sports games can inspire kids to begin to try out these sports for themselves. Before playing the game, they may not have ever even thought that a particular sport might be fun to play.
Games may improve dyslexia.
Do you or someone you know suffer from dyslexia? If so, you may want to consider firing up your favorite game and focusing your attention on it for at least a little every night. Recent studies have hinted that one component of dyslexia could be attention difficulties. Games, as you already know, require you to focus your attention if you want to be successful but they provide a highly entertaining medium to do it.
They could help you quit smoking.
Anyone who has ever suffered from addiction knows how hard it is to get your mind off of it if you are trying to break that habit. If you are quitting smoking or any other type of addiction, you need a way to focus your mind and keep it focused so you don’t spend all your time thinking about how great it would be to have a smoke or whatever nasty habit it is. Games can help you do just that. They provide an entertaining medium that helps keep your focus so you don’t pine away thinking about smoking or overeating or whatever it may be.
Gamers can help stroke victims.
Recent studies have shown that the interactivity and even exercise that some games can provide can actually provide beneficial therapy to victims of a stroke. One of the major problems stroke victims must deal with is a loss in strength in their hands on the side of the body affected by the stroke. Recent studies have shown that stroke victims that use video games as an additional part of their therapy regain hand strength faster and continue to regain strength longer compared to stroke victims who do not use video games.
Games can teach you to think strategically.
In the past, many people believed that being able to think strategically is a talent and not something that can be taught. However, more recently people have begun to understand that this skill can be taught just like anything else. But some people are just better at it than others. Video gamers, on the other hand, usually are able to think more strategically compared to people who aren’t gamers. This is probably due to the fact that gamers who play regularly are often required to think and strategize on what their next move will be. While other games focus on this more than others, even the traditional FPS will often require you to think about situations. If you just go in blasting away, you may not survive. But move in from a certain position and you will have a better chance. In the end, this strategic thinking can transfer into real life improving their success rates at work and beyond.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Now that you have heard all of these good things about video games, you may be tempted to head up to your room and fire up your favorite game to play for hours on end. But, like everything else in life, you can overdue it. While one cookie won’t do much other than give us a little tasty treat, eating 12 cookies at one time and you could gain a little weight.
The same goes for video games. Often for these benefits above, a little goes a long way. So remember, when you play your games, be sure to take a break every now and then and enjoy the rest of what life has to offer. If you don’t, all the benefits you do gain from video games will be lost as you forget how to truly live.
Gone are the days where people simply shout to the rooftops that video games are bad for you. In fact, science has shown quite the opposite. There are actually many different benefits to choosing to play video games today. These benefits far outweigh many of the negatives that some people believe about video games. Gamers have sharper minds, reflexes and much more. But remember, too much of a good thing is often bad for you. If you overdo it, you could find that you do more harm than good and you won’t see some of the very best benefits that casual video gamers get.
So why did I write this article? It’s quite simply, really. There are so many people out there that bad mouth video games and say they do more harm than good. Most of these people are simply ignorant of the true benefits that researchers have proven that games provide. So, if you want to help your health and especially your brain, it is time to dig out your favorite Mario game or head to the store and pick up a nice popular PC title that you can enjoy in your own home. You could find that just a little game playing every now and then could mean the difference between living a long and healthy life or not.
So what do you think? Do you believe that video games can provide you with many benefits or do you think that they do more harm than good? Let me know what you think in the comments below and we will see how you stack up with the world at large. Until then, I think it is time to fire up my favorite PC game and work on my eyes.