For a long time, games have been seen by many as just a hobby. In particular, video games were looked down on, receiving an unfair perception that they offered no benefits to players and that they took time away from activities like socializing, working, studying or exercising.
In reality, the opposite is true. Games of all types can be beneficial in a multitude of different ways. They can improve overall wellbeing and intellectual ability, and can even create opportunities for socializing.
Here are some of the potential benefits of playing games.
There’s no getting away from the fact that modern life can be stressful. Ever-growing work demands, financial strain, and pressures to conform to social norms can all take their toll on us. That’s why it has never been as important to find good stress management techniques.
There are many ways that people choose to manage stress, including exercising, taking up a hobby, reading, spending time with friends, or practicing meditation. Another popular choice is playing video games.
In a survey conducted among American video game players, more than fifty per cent said that they regularly played video games to relax and/or to relieve stress. Video games seem to provide an immersion that allows stress factors to be pushed to the back of the mind, at least temporarily.
Improve Your Memory
If you find yourself forgetting things regularly, then you may benefit from playing games. It doesn’t matter what you play, but nearly all games require you to use your memory skills.
For example, when playing variants of poker like Texas hold ‘em, you’ll be required the memorize the different types and hierarchy of hands, while when playing Scrabble, you’ll need a good vocabulary stored in your mind to be successful.
Video games also require good memory. You may need to remember all of the places where powerups appear on a map, how to navigate around the game, or the moves required to complete a level.
Improved Reaction Times Hand-Eye Coordination
If you ever find yourself being a bit clumsy, then there’s a chance you could benefit from playing video games. Titles like Call of Duty require you to move around the map quickly, using two analogue sticks to simultaneously rotate your character on their access while controlling the direction of travel. Players are required to multitask as they do this, completing tasks like firing a weapon, attacking or evading enemies, and completing objectives.
A study conducted by researchers at Toronto University in 2014 found that regularly playing video games improved “sensorimotor skills”. This meant that test subjects who played video games could also learn to ride a bike or touch-type quicker than subjects who didn’t play.
Other studies have also found that playing games can improve reaction times, which can be useful while you’re driving or playing a sport.
Improved Cognitive Ability
As well as helping you to improve your memory, react faster, and fine tune your hand-eye coordination, playing games can also improve your cognitive ability.
Some games are a strong intellectual challenge that will give your brain a good work out. For example, the popular Japanese puzzle Sudoku requires you to problem solve and can help you get more familiar with numbers.
Meanwhile, playing darts, pool, and snooker requires you to conduct mental arithmetic to calculate your score after each turn, and also to have a solid (albeit subconscious) understanding of angles to pot the balls or score triple 20.
These are skills that we need in life. Problem-solving is required in most jobs, even if you don’t realize it, while being able to do basic mental maths is useful while shopping, cooking, and doing DIY.
Despite the common misconception, playing games is more than just a way to have fun. Games of all types can help improve your cognitive abilities, speed up your reactions, lower your stress levels, help you remember more, and make you more coordinated.