With all the negativity going on the world these past few months, as well as some of the more serious posts I have been publishing, I think it’s best to take a look at the positive side of one of the things we love most of all: video games. There are various benefits to playing video games according to the American Psychological Association, which states that “[w]hile one widely held view maintains playing video games is intellectually lazy, such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception, according to several studies…”. Many studies have been done on the psychological and health benefits of playing video games and a lot of them have concluded with positive results.
As a gamer, it’s easy for me to say that gaming has helped to improve some of my basic skills as well as help me develop new friendships. Playing video games is also a great way to pass the time and have fun. I’d like to take this time to share with you the ways in which video games improve or positively affect my everyday life. It’s always good to take some time out of the negativity the world is constantly throwing our way and think positively for a while, look at some good rather than the perpetual stream of bad. Keep in mind that while some of my thoughts below may have been proven true via scientific studies, most of it is based on personal experiences and unless I state otherwise I do not claim that any of it is fact.
Studies have already proven that video games are good for the brain, but I’d wager that those of us who play video games regularly already knew that. I know from personal experience that my hand-eye coordination was not so good until I started to play games regularly, particularly first person shooters. Video games have also improved my reaction time as I feel that due to my excessive gaming habit I have become quicker on the draw, so to speak. Having to focus on a game and the goings on within the game for long periods of time while making quick, tactical decisions (mainly in multiplayer games) seems to translate well to the real world, helping me to be better at making quick decisions while driving, working, etc.
It’s easy to pin these improvements on video games as there is really no other thing that I do as often or as frequently as a I play. Being able to attribute all this to my time spent gaming makes hours spent in front of a screen fixating on fictional characters seem more worthwhile than ever. Again, this is an extremely positive thing as it is not only important – it’s cool to be able to feel yourself improving over time and knowing that games did something more than keep you from completing your homework and doing chores.
Problem Solving & Multitasking
Playing games that push you to solve complex puzzles or keep your task list full really help train the brain to do those things regularly in everyday life. For example, if you have become really good at organizing your side quests in an RPG then you have probably noticed that when faced with multiple tasks at once in the real world you do just fine. I know that I have noticed this improvement personally and it is partially because I’m obsessive about organization but also because I’ve just become so used to managing multiple tasks at one time that I have simply become somewhat of an organizational pro. Playing a game like Skyrim or Mass Effect has become easy for me; while others who are newer to a large backlog of side quests fold, I excel in organizing the tasks from most to least important while continuously completing them as I receive them so that they don’t back up too much.
Gaming also helps when it comes to solving problems. I used to be terrible at puzzle games and hated puzzles in games for other genres because it was hard for me and led to immense frustration. Over time I have devoted more and more time to gaming and thus have notice an improvement in my puzzle solving abilities. For example, I wasn’t able to play Portal for a long time, it always frustrated me too much because it was too hard for me, but since I started to game regularly some many years ago I have been able to play both Portal games and enjoy them. In reality I also find it easier to solve puzzles and work out problems while others may become overwhelmed.
As someone who suffers vastly from multiple anxiety disorders, I can definitely concur that video games help in that department too. When I am feeling anxious I can melt away the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts by delving into a video game. Being able to play a video game at almost any time has really benefited me as far as calming me down in particularly anxious situations. Even thinking about a game I can play later helps as it takes my mind off of whatever is causing the anxiety, even if I don’t always know what that is. In fact, one of the ways in which I calm down from an anxiety attack is to completely focus all my thoughts on a video game, even if I am not playing one, because it helps to think about something fun and enjoyable rather than whatever is making me panic.
Video games are also a great stress reliever. I am often wound up pretty tight and regularly stressed out about one thing or another, video games help with that too. Being able to focus my mind on another world or another person instead of my world and the problems within it is so amazingly helpful. It’s like diving into a new reality that completely replaces the one I am in for a little while, which does away with the stress. Of course, this only works with a really good game and the opposite effect can occur if I am playing competitive multiplayer as they tend to be more stressful for me than relaxing. The relief of anxiety and stress thanks to video games has made my life that much brighter. Not everyone has the benefit of being able to relieve these stresses in life as easily as I do which makes me feel lucky to have such a fondness of video games.
These are merely my experiences and how video games positively affect my life. It makes me happy to know that in such a chaotic world I have the freedom to hide away in my video games and experience new worlds and new situations. I’d like to hear about some of your positive experiences with video games and how they have improved your life so be sure to leave a comment below. In times like these I think it’s important to share positive experiences rather than the negative ones. Negativity is easy to come by and it spreads like wildfire. Being positive takes more effort at times but it’s definitely worth it in the end and being able to relate to another in positive ways can be very beneficial.