You always hear that video games are the cause of mental health problems. But is that really true? Do video games hurt us or do they actually help us? If you’re reading this then you know I already believe the latter. But let’s discuss it and talk about all of the positive benefits of video games.
We will start by listing each type of benefit. Within those types we will link to external sources. Our end goal will be to show that video games do indeed help fight mental illnesses and benefit us in other ways. I hope you’re looking forward to this as much as I am. Let’s get started shall we?
With the technology we have at hand these days, we are able to communicate and interact with others from the comfort of our home. Depending on the game, there are some that are more interactive than others. Consider MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) RPG (Role Playing Games), this helps with team building by learning to work together to resolve an issue. Some being more complicated than others.
The newest form of gaming that helps socialization even more is VR. You can find people PvPing for fun, playing Battle Royale games together, or even grouping up together in VR MMO’s. If you own a VR headset, you probably already know about some games like Rec Room and AltSpaceVR. Heck, I even own Catan VR myself. We just get together around a board game in a VR setting and play Catan.
2. Helps Relieve Stress
Yes, some games can cause stress such as competitive games, horror games, and so on. However, going to a virtual world in a video game can be like going into a virtual world when you’re reading a book. Everything can fall away, you can forget about the worries with life (even a little bit), get together with friends, and just have some fun.
People also tend to take this the wrong way at times as well. They feel like “escaping reality” is just you trying to avoid problems in you’re real life. But I say, don’t we all have a form of escaping reality? People have different ways to cope yes, but this is by far way healthier than a lot of other things that are available out there.
Seeing something new and creative can spark a fresh new perspective in your work or life, especially with game developers. People can get stuck and may not be able to solve a problem, so they may need to just step back, take a break, and try again later. Playing video games can take your mind off those problems.
When I was learning to make games and wasn’t sure what new feature I wanted to add, or how to modify a feature, I would feel uninspired. That’s when I would go and play one of my video games. During my gameplay I would see a “cool feature” and think about how I could either implement that specific feature, or modify it to where it would work within my game.
Maybe you’re a writer who plays RPG’s and gains inspiration from how that company wrote a characters backstory. Inspiration can be found anywhere. Just like finding inspiration in art, music, and movies, it can be found in video games as well.
Have you heard of increasing motivation by “Small Wins”? It’s the idea of accomplishing multiple objectives that are easier compared to the more complicated, lengthy objectives that you may have. As we accomplish each objective, we are motivated to do more, to keep going.
Even if we miss one objective, the idea of completing the other one’s leave us wanting to accomplish more. Games give us multiple objectives. Sometimes we get several at one time, while others may give us one at a time. When completing the smaller objectives, they prepare us for the bigger one’s.
Small wins are very powerful and they can build you up quickly. Take a look at this article here to see how to make them work for you. Just Google the term Small Wins and watch how many results quickly appear. Anytime I need a pick me up, I just work through a checklist of easy tasks to start my day.
5. Decreases Anxiety
Sometimes you’re just so stressed out, you need to play a good FPS game and take out some enemies. Some people enjoy exercising, playing sports, drawing, painting, or boxing. Us gamers know that playing an FPS game or a relaxing simulation game such as Rollercoaster Tycoon can help relieve anxiety very quickly.
Here’s an article on recommended games to play to help reduce that anxiety if you’re not into FPS or Sim-Type games. Everyone’s different, so make sure you choose the right game for yourself if your stressed. Be careful because let’s be honest, games can also have the opposite affect.
6. Consistent Positive Feedback (Reward System)
In life we may receive lots of negative feedback or not have a reward for our accomplishments. From our peers, to being unable to accomplish a goal where it effects our self-esteem. As humans, sometimes we just want to be rewarded. If we don’t reward ourselves, how do we keep working towards our goal? Heck, why do we even want to complete our goal if there’s not a reward involved?
Don’t get me wrong. Rewards can come in all forms, they’re not just materialistic. A reward could be internal or external. To my point, video games consistently provide us rewards. We may get better equipment, more gold, or gain pride of making the right decision to help an NPC that needed our help.
Rewards in video games are like getting a “good job!”, a raise, promotion, or even a piece of candy in real life. Think about it, would you complete a quest if you weren’t receiving reputation, an item, gold, or even experience? Probably not.
An article published by Neuriosciencenews.com (from their source University of Arkansas), that even one hour of playing a video game can increase a person’s ability to focus. From first hand experience, I can agree with their other statement “Players had increased focus on relevant visual information while suppressing less relevant information“. This is because video games teach you to concentrate on your objective. Yes, some games such as one’s built in open worlds, or RPG’s of some sort will allow you to side track and do whatever else you want.
There is a ton of data behind multiple ways to help someone focus. This includes anything from listening to music, to creating a to-do list and work on one thing at a time. Video games can be a combination of some of these factors. Consider this, you have an objective to accomplish, while needing to be aware of your surroundings. If you overlook something important, it could be the meaning of life or death of your character, or even you may have to backtrack to find that item if it was part of the storyline. While trying to accomplish all of this, there’s music playing in the background and that music could change depending on your in-game situation.
Ever had a moment in life where your significant other asks you to look for something, and you look in all of the obvious spots, but that object was somewhere that you never would have guessed? That’s because you’re ignoring what you think would be irrelevant information. It’s also true, that I experience this a lot. Trust me when I say, my wife doesn’t let me live that down.
Sometimes when you come home from a stressful day of school or work you want to relax right? Well, one major way that people do that these days are playing video games. It gets your mind off the real world and some video games don’t even require all that much brain power. Other people who may get angry may want to come home an play games to “kill something”. Whether that be an NPC, or another player. If this is your approach, be careful. This can have the adverse effect. If you start losing on the game, it could just make matters worse. Just… pick your battles.
This point may also go hand-in-hand with number two, Helps Relieve Stress. While some prefer baths, a hike through nature, spending time with pets, kids (also considered pets?), and family, keep video games in mind if you haven’t tried this as a relaxation technique. In other words, don’t bump it if you haven’t tried it.
As we are completing more goals in a row or “streak” we tend to build confidence in ourselves as we play video games. The opposite is also true. If we’re just having a bad day, it seems like every round of games is causing us to meet Murphy’s Law. This latter doesn’t nearly happen as much though. Which is why I enjoy video games even on bad days. Sometimes just completing quests, missions, or getting kill streaks can perk you right up. Don’t believe me? Ask any gamer!
As each objective is accomplished, we are becoming more confident in our abilities to complete or go after the more complicated tasks. This in turn, affects how we feel about things in real life as well. Even though we are “escaping from reality”, doesn’t mean we aren’t applying skills we’ve learned in our lives on a normal basis. Having a bad day? Worried about your confidence? Feel free to play a game and see if it helps. PvP is usually better for this benefit in my opinion.
In life you may feel like you can’t always be yourself. It could be in fear of being judged. However, when playing games you can be whomever or whatever you want to be. You can decorate your character in any fashion, or even enjoy the option of role playing with others. Some people feel more at home and are able to be more personable online than with others in real life. A major benefit of online games where you can interact with others such as role play, fashion your characters, or whatever of your choosing can even help people figure out who they are as a real life person who still may be discovering or in search of themselves.
As you can probably tell, there are both negative and positive benefits of video games. Here, I wanted to focus on the positive aspect. Some of us grew up with our parents saying, “Video games are bad and that we would amount to nothing playing them”. I believe that these ten positive benefits of video games make all the difference to how we react to others in real life.
What do you think? Which positive benefits of video games stood out to you the most? Are there more that aren’t mentioned here? Of course there are! Feel free to share them below if you’d like in the comments! Let us know what positive benefit of video games that you’d discovered for your self are.