The verdict is out – video gaming isn’t the demonic destructive phenomenon that so many have made it out to be in years past. Yes, we’ve always known that gaming is fun but there’s more.
Video games have been blamed for exacerbating violence, obesity and social isolation. However, a growing body of evidence consistently shows that gaming provides a wide range of health benefits. The following are some of the best known advantages of gaming.
Whereas researchers are still trying to understand dyslexia including its causes, a number of studies have shown that dyslexic persons can benefit from playing video games. How exactly that happens hasn’t been conclusively established though there are a number of theories that are still work in progress.
One theory contends that dyslexia is the result of attention problems. Video games force a player to concentrate on an activity for extended periods. And because they are having so much fun, they won’t even realize how focused they are. Also, many games have rapidly changing landscapes, frequent pop ups as well as diverse voices all issuing instructions on what the player needs to do and the missions that must be accomplished.
Such multi-faceted communication and detail isn’t limited to combat games like Gears of War and Call of Duty. Less intense child-friendly games such as Skylander and Infinity have significant stimulation that’s beneficial for dyslexic individuals.
This will probably come as a surprise to most people since we’ve always known that sitting in front of a TV or computer screen would negatively affect your vision.
While this may have been true with the earliest computer games, times have changed significantly. Particularly important is you don’t sit as close to the computer screen since the cords for game controllers are much longer than they used to be. If you have a large enough monitor, you can even sit on the opposite end of the room.
So how does gaming better a player’s vision? First, game scenes typically have elaborate details and sharply contrasting colors. This forces players to pay attention to minute features, something that will hone their ability to distinguish objects and colors in the real world.
Second, persons with amblyopia (a visual condition better known as lazy eye where one eye is non-functional from early childhood) showed substantial improvement when their functioning eye was covered and they were forced to watch the game via the lazy eye. Eye movement is controlled by optical muscles so the forced eye movement necessitated by the rapidly changing scenes can improve the condition.
Note that the nature and quality of the computer monitor determines whether gaming will affect your eyesight positively or negatively. To ensure you have the right screen, go through a list of the top gaming monitors and only buy that which meets your price, functionality and quality expectations.
Improved Memory And Cognitive Function
The brain gets better when it’s exercised. While Sudoku and crossword puzzles are some of the better known ways of exerting the mind, video games work are even more effective. Think about the patterns you have to recognize, the characters and missions you must remember, the need to master wielding various tools and weapons, and much more.
As you seek ways of getting through to the next stage, your brain has to be deeply engaged. There are even games purpose-built to exercise the brain’s memory more directly. These include those that involve solving math problems or answering trivia questions.
Overall, video games boost your memory and cognitive abilities. And as your memory gets better and you regularly beat your previous best scores, the positive sentiment triggers the production of the feel good chemical serotonin. Serotonin in turn rejuvenates brain cells.
Gaming also grows the brain’s hippocampus and lowers the risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s and similar degenerative conditions later in life. You can indeed slow down the mind’s aging through video games.
One of the reasons video games are so much fun is because of the rapid twists and turns, and the constant anticipation of what awaits you in each new stage. The dramatic changes necessitate fast decision-making. You often have a limited time to choose what path to follow, what mission to pursue and the set of actions needed to complete a task. This benefit isn’t necessarily about making the right choice but rather learning to make decisions.
Procrastination and indecision can affect many aspects of your life including physical, mental and financial health. When you fail to take action when you need to, it will stall your progress eventually leading to guilt, depression and overall deterioration of mental wellbeing. Friends may exclude you from their plans because of your notoriety for indecision thus leaving you feeling unwanted and isolated.
Video games teach you the need for and urgency of making decisions at crucial junctures. It’s about split-second calls even when the calls themselves aren’t necessarily right. Faster decision-making exercises memory recall and stimulates brain cell growth and repair.
Curb Unhealthy Impulsive Eating
We’ve all seen TV shows and movies that show the stereotypical gamer surrounded by junk food. But is that really the typical lifestyle of the average player? How often have you ever wanted to snack when gaming? Probably not that often.
When playing, you are fixated on what’s happening on the screen. Your hands are fully engaged by the controller so pausing to grab a burger would only break your momentum. In short, your mind is busy.
Unhealthy impulsive eating is often driven by idleness or negative emotions. The person is stressed or bored so reaches for food to keep them busy or take their mind off their depressing thoughts. Gaming forces you to adhere to normal meal times.
Since gaming indirectly curbs binge eating, it can actually help you lose weight thus reduce your exposure to the vast health problems that accompany obesity.
Stress is an inevitable part of the rough and tumble of life. However, the severity of stress often comes down to how it’s handled. Video games can minimize stress levels in a number of ways. First, the game takes your mind off ‘the real world’ by engrossing you in a fun fantasy virtual world. If you are having difficulty sleeping, some brief play could help.
Second, gaming allows you to unwind after a long and difficult day. You may not be getting rid of the root cause of stress but you’ll certainly prevent it from overwhelming you. The cognitive benefits of gaming also mean you are better prepared to resolve the stress cause.
These benefits are of course no excuse to spend the entire day playing video games. Gaming like any other activity can be harmful if done in excess. It is true that video games can reduce the opportunities for people to interact face to face. Everything must therefore be done in moderation.