Benefits of Playing Video Games
Technological advancements have significantly transformed the video gaming industry. Video games have become ubiquitous as their usage transcends age and environment. From workplaces to homes and from adolescents to adults, video games have become vital technologies with more than entertainment value. It is a multibillion-dollar industry that targets almost all age groups. Despite the commonly held perception that they are addictive and lead to societal maladies such as violence and obesity, there is a mounting body of evidence that video games have a wide array of health, social, and cognitive benefits.
Source: Statista. (n.d)
Psychosocial, Health, and Cognitive Benefits Associated with Playing Video Games
One of the cognitive benefits of playing video games is the improvement on individual’s executive functions including memory and perception. These are critical when it comes to decision making and problem-solving. Studies have shown that complex video games such as 3D video games played in virtual environments have the potential of significantly improving and stimulating brain capacity especially hippocampal-associated memory and behaviors. The visually stimulating nature of these virtual environments enhances cognitive development and by extension, in tackling cognitive decline which is sometimes associated with aging (Clemenson & Stark, 2015). The engaging virtual environments and scenarios in the video games demand rapid and efficient decision making (Boot, Blakely & Simons, 2011).
They are also required to be more adept at performing other executive function-related tasks such as simultaneous multitasking. Switching rapidly from different tasks in video games can also improve an individual’s mental flexibility and eye-hand coordination. With improved executive functions, video game players are more likely to develop better job-related skills than non-players. Improved attention, vigilance and memory, multitasking, quick decision making, which come with video gaming, are essential and important job-related skills.
Video games have numerous mental, health, and psychosocial benefits due to their fun and therapeutic nature. The interactive nature of video games can help in relieving stress and depression as they can boost an individual’s mood. This has seen them used in therapies for several mental conditions (Griffiths, 2002). Video games demand calm and attention to detail, which is critical in learning how to reduce compulsiveness. Studies have also shown that children suffering from dyslexia showed significant improvements in visual attention and consequently, phonology and reading when they regularly play video games. Individuals suffering from lazy eye or amblyopia and lack of visual contrast sensitivity can enjoy improved visual activity when engaged in video games therapies (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 2014).
In addition to their entertainment value, video games are a great way to learn new ideas. This is because the advancements in technology enable game developers to come up with fun and interactive games, which incorporate various subjects ranging from sciences to arts and technical skills. Players can learn new ideas while also having fun in a relaxed and convenient environment (Griffiths, 2002).
Despite the negative coverage and perception that has characterized video games over the years, they have numerous physical, cognitive, and psychosocial benefits. Tasking and challenging scenarios and environments that are engaging and stimulating characterize video games. This results in improved mental faculties, moods, as well as the physical and psychosocial status of players. These benefits have seen video games used in cognitive behavioral and physical therapies as well as platforms for interactive learning.
Boot, W. R., Blakely, D. P. & Simons, D. J. (2011). Do action video games improve perception and cognition? Front. Psychology, 2:226. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00226
Clemenson, G. D. & Stark, C. E. L. (2015). Virtual environmental enrichment through video games improves hippocampal-associated memory. J Neurosci., 35(49): 16116–16125. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2580-15.2015
Granic, I., Lobel, A. & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 66 –78. DOI: 10.1037/a0034857
Griffiths, M. (2002). The educational benefits of videogames. Education and Health, 20(3), 47 – 51.
Statista. (n.d). Video Game Industry – Statistics & Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/topics/868/video-games/