Are Video Games Bad For You? 6 Benefits of Gaming You Didn’t Know About!
Gaming may have some unexpected benefits. (Photo Credits: Flickr, JD Hancock)

It’s mentally stimulating, gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps us escape from the drudgery of real life. Why would anyone hate video games? But gamers all over the world are having second thoughts about their sanity after WHO declared “gaming disorder” as a legitimate mental health condition. The organisation made the addition in the recent revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and had named three traits as its symptoms: prioritising gaming over everything else, playing despite the negative consequences causing by the habit and ruining personal and professional relationships in the pursuit of gaming.

But gamers need not be down in the mouth. The move has invited some opposition from people outside the gaming community. Psychologists say that not all gamers who play a lot need help. By labelling excessive gaming as a disorder, WHO will be creating a problem that doesn’t necessarily exist. While excessive gaming could cause concerns, it has its set of benefits. Here are some reasons why gaming could be good for you.

1 Sharpens Memory and Cognitive Skills

Instead of seeing gaming as a vapid activity, consider it as a brain-boosting exercise. Playing video games is known to sharpen cognitive skills, improving their ability to learn and focus. Young ones who play video games develop better attention and have better abstract thinking skills. A 2015 study in the Journal of Neuroscience states that people who played Mario did better on memory tasks than the ones who didn’t. Video games who played complicated 3D games fared better.

2 Helps Decision Making

Gaming offers a simulated environment to sharpen your decision-making skills. In certain games, players are required to make split-second decisions, especially those involving action and violence. This can prepare you to make better decisions even if you are pressed for time.

3 Relieves Pain

The role of games in relieving pain is being explored by researchers, especially among paediatric patients. Controlled studies have shown that video games can provide a distraction for children undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and sickle cell disease. They suffered from less nausea and lowered systolic blood pressure after treatment. Studies show that video games can improve health outcomes and reduce anxiety caused by chronic diseases. They have also been used for physiotherapy or occupational therapy for patients.

4 Prepares You To Deal With Failure

Who knows the pain of falling and rising more than an inveterate gamer? Failures in the virtual world can foster sportsmanship, helping you to take winning and losing in your stride. Research says that playing video games helps children acquire an incremental notion of intelligence, which enables them to better themselves. With every win, kids who play video games become confident and optimistic about achieving their goals.

5 Boosts Emotional Health and Relaxation

The mood-boosting qualities of video games cannot be ignored. Several studies have proven the causal relation between playing a video game of your choice and improved mood. It can promote relaxation and lessen anxiety in people. The positive feelings such as pride associated with winning a round of games can be very gratifying.

6 Helps Break Bad Habits

If you are a habitual smoker who is finding it difficult to quit, try playing video games. A 2014 study revealed that smokers who were off nicotine could cope better with the withdrawal when they played two-player games. Playing video games stimulates the same reward centres of your brain as nicotine does, helping you forget all about cigarettes while you are trying to quit.

That being said, remember that nothing in excess can be good for you, even gaming. Obsessive gaming has its own downsides. It can impair the way your life in many ways. It can affect your professional life and relationships. Long hours of sitting in front of the monitor can even promote weight gain and obesity. While video games offer an outlet from everyday stress, it can also cause a disassociation with reality.

(References: The Benefits of Playing Video Games; Video games and health)