There's a stigma about gaming being an addictive form of entertainment, but it's not necessarily bad for you. Studies have found it to be key in cognitive skills development among adults and kids. Besides being an entertaining way to pass the time, something we've all needed this year. Gaming in moderation offers several other surprising health benefits:
Engaging with a screen and responding to all the actions, coordinating visual and physical movement, provides stimulation essential for building coordination. Video games are excellent in the development of the hand and eye coordination, spatial and motor skills.
Improves Brain Health
A psychological study shows that watching video games for several hours a week sharpens your brain. The study further exhibits how video games help you develop a better focus, prolonged retention of new information, and fast simulation of tasks.
Improves Your Social Skills
Gaming is a great way to communicate with others, especially during lock-down. Working to achieve a collective goal or competing to win in games like Among Us bring a sense of community to those feeling isolated. Simultaneous participation leads to strong friendships and helps players become better collaborators.
Improves Your Decision-Making Skills
An ongoing game like Farmville or Sim City continuously displays new information essential for successful participation. Players have to decide quickly and adapt, making decisions that have long term in-game implications. Enjoying games like this helps players become efficient in adapting sensory data and making good decisions.
Improves Attention and Focus
The more you play, the better your attention. In a study by the University of Arkansas collaborating with researchers at the Key Laboratory for NeuroInformation, discovered that expert League of Legends players had enhanced attention to details.
Boosts your grey matter
Playing for 30 minutes a day can help build grey matter. A study has found that the hippocampus of people who regularly played 3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms such as Super Mario 64 had more grey matter after six months than those who didn't.
The hippocampus is the part of the brain primarily associated with spatial and episodic memory, a critical factor in long-term cognitive health.
Enhances Contrast Sensitivity
Individuals stimulate their contrast sensitivity through gaming, boosting the spatial frequency and contrast sensitivity.
Improvement of Cognitive Skills
Different games are useful in the advancement of different cognitive skills. Participation in multiple games helps sharpen different skills. For instance, Starcraft can help improve your brain flexibility as Overwatch enhances your decision-making skills. Here are some examples of games and benefits:
• The recognition ability of a player improves when they play 3D videos. According to this 2015 study, the memory performance of users who played Super Mario 3D World "increased by about 12 per cent, which the researchers say is the amount memory normally decreases between the ages of 45 and 70."
• This study concluded that "playing action video games substantially improves performance in a range of attentional, perceptual, and cognitive tasks". Memorise this and use it next time someone complaints that you spend too much time playing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard!
• Researchers say that action games, such as first-person shooters Call of Duty, train the mind to filter out background noise and predict future tasks.
• Another study showed that action video games train people to make the right decisions faster. So next time you can't decide whether to cook or get a takeaway? Why not play some Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and make the right decision later?
• This group found that "the videogame treatment enhanced performance on secondary tasks, without interfering with the primary tasks". Their "results demonstrate action videogames can increase people's ability to take on additional tasks by increasing attentional capacity". To be honest, spending a few hours playing Assassin's Creed Valhalla, feels more like a treat than a treatment.
• Action video games such as League of Legends can improve an individual's ability to process visuals, which is instrumental in ignoring distractors when identifying crucial information. Also, players become competent in tracking multiple objects and gain improved coordination of visuomotor skills.
• Active participation in action games using physical components like VR headsets can improve your visuospatial skills and executive functions. Do you feel going to the gym is a chore? Why not play virtual reality rhythm game Beat Saber or BoxVR, an award-winning VR fitness game.