Online gaming: The surprising benefits
Although video games often get a bad rap, playing them offers many benefits. Instead of passively watching a screen, video games encourage players to interact with characters and others, and to make split-second decisions. They’re arguably the most engaging form of at-home entertainment available. When played in moderation, the benefits of video games on the whole outweigh the risks. Here’s an idea about why.
A stress reliever
After a long day at work or studying, there’s nothing quite like relaxing while watching a movie or playing an online game. Video games get a lot of bad press, but they can improve the mood and regulate heart rhythms, which may help relieve stress. Studies have shown that playing card games online can lower the stress-related hormone cortisol. One explanation is that video games allow the player to escape from whatever is worrying them by shifting their focus to something positive, like beating a competitor.
It may be hard to believe, but video games can help with developing analytical skills, and it doesn’t end there. They also help players improve concentration and memory. In addition, when playing online against friends or strangers, one has to be aware of an opponent’s next move and strategise, as well as interacting live with other players, which can develop interpersonal skills applicable in the real world. What’s more, a study of surgeons found that laparoscopic specialists who play video games for more than three hours a week make 32% fewer errors than their non-gaming colleagues.
Mental health benefits
Video games can help improve mental health by providing mental stimulation resulting in higher-level thinking. After all, when playing video games, almost every part of the brain is in action. Depending on the game, it may be necessary to strategise quickly or analyse a situation under pressure. Reaching goals in a video game offers a sense of accomplishment, and badges and trophies increase these feelings as the game progresses. Video games can also act as a distraction when experiencing psychological trauma and help people dealing with depression, PTSD, ADHD and anxiety. They also teach players to cope with failure, building emotional resiliency.
Encourage physical activity
Although video games are often associated with a couch potato lifestyle, most of today’s gaming consoles come with technology that gets players moving while interacting with the onscreen action. Nintendo Switch owners can purchase Ring Fit Adventure, a game with over 100 levels that combines exploration with fitness. Just Dance is available across gaming platforms and uses dancing to get gamers moving. VR technology promises to propel video games and physical fitness to another level. It’s not just video game consoles that encourage gamers to move; mobile games like Pokémon Go encourage players to get out and explore their surroundings to make progress in a virtual world.
Those not in the know may believe the hours spent playing video games online are damaging players’ eyesight, but research proves otherwise. Video games could in fact make vision better when played in moderation (that means no multi-hour marathons). One study showed that gamers could see objects more clearly in cluttered spaces than non-gamers due to improved spatial resolution. Hours playing video games had trained their brains to see smaller details, as this is what they had to do to be successful at their chosen titles.
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