Gaming gets a bad rep. With users often spending hours every day in front of a screen, it’s easy for people to blame it for a multitude of problems, from obesity to anti-social behaviour and even, in some cases, gun crime.
What these people often overlook, however, is that gaming can also help us develop certain skills. Far from being to blame for society’s ills, the activity can bring many advantages and it’s possible to combine a passion for gaming with a healthy lifestyle.
With this in mind, this article looks at some of the benefits gamers can enjoy.
It Enhances Your Visual-spatial Ability
The problem with non-gamers is they think playing a game is just staring at a screen blankly, bashing buttons with no thought process involved.
This simply isn’t the case. Almost every game provides a constant stream of mental stimulation that requires the gamer to use several key skills all at once.
Take Minecraft, for example. You have to navigate an entire virtual 3D world to succeed, with no GPS or smart app to help. Players have to understand the distance and space involved using their coordination to get around. In other words, they need to use their visual-spatial skills constantly which means they quickly improve them as they advance through the game.
Nintendo Wii owners take it one step further, of course. Engaging the whole body while playing, and being careful not to knock over Mom’s pot plant, is excellent practice for our visual-spatial awareness. Anyone who’s ever played Punch-Out! will know exactly what I’m talking about.
It Can Help Improve Your Decision-making Skills
We all know the benefits of making a quick decision; reacting to changing circumstances in the moment helps us through some of the most critical moments that we experience as human beings.
Some people find that this skill is enhanced through dealing with the simulated challenges of video games.
Studies have found that gamers display, on average, a 25% higher response rate to questions about an image they’ve just seen compared to non-players. It makes sense; to be a skilled player in most games you have to deal with rapidly changing information and have a good memory to retain it.
Gaming demands you make split-second decisions based on readily available data you have stored in your head, similar to card-counting in Blackjack or buying and selling stocks on Wall Street. These might be slightly extreme examples, but they go to show that skills acquired by gaming can be used in real life, too.
It Makes You More Sociable
Despite what some people say, gamers are friendly people. Rather than being socially insulated, the opposite tends to be true for them.
The modern rise of multi-player online games has created a new way of socialising. Players are constantly communicating: whether by working together to solve a problem or competing against each other. Both activities can be classed as forms of bonding (apart from when COD players are swearing at each other, of course) and they help to form friendships.
As well as that, they help real-world friends stay in contact. People regularly play with their friends, whether it be online or in person. It even helps boost interaction between people in a public place, kids talking about the latest FIFA game at school, for example.
In short, gaming brings people together. Who needs social media to stay in touch?
It Makes You More Knowledgeable
Playing is learning, as they say. The same can be said for video games.
Many games contain a vast amount of factual information within its storyline or settings. Strategy game Civilization, for example, contains accurate information to drive its gameplay, such as famous historical eras and influential past leaders.
Another popular game, Assassin’s Creed, even introduced a new mode, Discovery, for gamers to explore past civilisations, such as Ancient Egypt. With 75 guided tours curated by real-life experts, the game feels like a true learning experience and isn’t one you’ll forget in a hurry.
Video games have also become a valuable resource for education institutions that have incorporated it into their classroom resources. It’s a well-known useful technique to increase student participation, as well as enhancing their academic skills.
It Can Help People With Some Disorders
You might not get many doctors saying this but there is research out there that says video games help with certain health conditions or disorders.
The high number of social interactions involved helps autism sufferers make friends that their condition might normally prevent. Their sharing of social space to play the game is a key way of doing this, as well as using teamwork skills to solve tasks.
Another theory is that the intense bouts of reading demanded by a lot of games can lead to improvements in dyslexia. Players are forced to concentrate intensely on the task in hand, which overcomes attention difficulties that a lot of dyslexics suffer from.
Gaming is something that even MS sufferers have benefited from. Although no medication exists to help the condition, it has been reported that sufferers playing physically active games have noted an improvement in balance afterwards. For such a serious condition, the activity really can be a gift to them.
It Can Lead You Into A Successful Career
The gaming industry is booming. While the chances of being a professional gamer are small, there are more and more related roles available, from event organising to coding, and this is expected to grow over the next few years.
That’s not to say you can’t go on and be a pro, of course. Demand for gaming experts is also increasing and the rewards for the cream of the crop are lucrative. The winner of the Fortnite World Cup this year took home a cool $3 million at the tender age of 16, while the other 99 finalists made anything from $50,000 to $1.8 million. Very nice work if you can get it.
Of course, gaming has its downsides, too. Too much of any good thing can hurt you and it’s important to keep gaming as just one part of a varied and healthy lifestyle.
However, its benefits are there for everyone to see and, you never know, it could change your life!