Gaming and the Many Mental and Social Benefits

You have probably heard your friend’s Mom hollering up the stairs, “Turn that game off. It’ll rot your brain!” Perhaps you’ve even said the same thing to your own kids? This common impression of video games couldn’t be further from the truth! In today’s America, around 160 million people enjoy playing video games and eSports. Meanwhile, big brands are using “gamified” strategies to improve performance within their businesses. The military and fire-fighters are using special video games to enhance the skills of their personnel. So, what gives? The latest research may surprise you. It reveals many benefits to be enjoyed by gamers. Check out this impressive roster of gifts from gaming. Then consider whether you might benefit from reaching for that controller yourself!

Gaming Increases Grey Matter

Far from causing cognitive decline, a two-month long study from Berlin revealed that gaming led to brain growth. Test subjects played Super Mario for half an hour each day. These subjects exhibited brain growth in several different areas when compared with their non-gaming counterparts. Gamers saw growth to the areas of the brain responsible for decision making, social behavior, cognitive planning, memory processing, and fine motor skills. Another area of the brain that fires up during social gaming, where shared gaming experiences trigger the release of a hormone that helps us bond and feel a sense of unity.

Today’s Gamers Are Super Social

Video games have gone through a massive evolution since their earliest versions. Today’s gaming experiences are hugely diverse, complex, immersive, and dynamic. They are also more socially driven than ever. While you might imagine gaming to be a solitary activity, in fact more than 70% of online players play with a friend. They also become part of online communities through popular multi-player and eSports titles.

Gamers Are Creative Problem Solvers

Many games and eSports events call for intricate problem solving with different storytelling arcs. This challenge to hone our skills has direct results. For example, a study found that kids who played video games scored an impressive 23% higher in creativity tests. The capacity of gamers to face challenges in innovative ways has trickled over into the real world. Consequently, scientists asked the gaming community to help solve an AIDS related protein problem that baffled great scientific minds for over 15 years. The gaming community blew them away when they nailed the solution in just 15 days.

Playing Video Games Enhances Teamwork

Many of today’s multiplayer games demand cooperation if gamers can claim the bounty of success. Research has revealed that such eSports related game play not only improves our capacity to work within a team, but also to communicate and listen to instructions. Because many genres also call for protecting and providing for other characters or players, Researchers have uncovered a correlation between in-game and in-office leadership qualities.

Gaming Improves Eyesight

Have you ever been concerned that video games were bad for the eyesight of you or your loved ones? A New York study found the opposite to be true. According to researchers, gaming improves vision in ways that should only be possible with corrective surgery. Researchers found that game play improved subtle perception of color differences by 58%, by training the brain to process visual information more efficiently.

Gamers Enjoy Better Hand-Eye Coordination and Precise Muscle Movement

As we previously discussed, the area of the brain responsible for coordination and motor skills can be stimulated into growth by indulging in eSports titles. A study working with real-life surgeons demonstrated this perfectly. These already skilled professionals played video games to see if it would level up their surgical performance. Incredibly, surgeons who started gaming became a surprising 27% faster at complex surgical procedures and made 37% fewer mistakes. That truly qualifies as a life-saving level up.

Playing Virtual Games Can Actually Make You More Active in the Real World

Players of competitive eSports games can tap into many of the same life lessons as they would if they played a physical sport. For example, they are more likely to play physical sports after competing in online games. Alongside teamwork, gaming can be valuable in helping to developing spatial analysis and planning at a young age. Many gamers take advantage of so-called “exer-games” that call for movement through simulated activities. Active players can improve their fitness, flexibility, coordination, and balance. They also have a lot of fun without the need for a gym membership.

Gaming Can Stimulate Learning

Along with problem solving skills, gaming can improve attention span and increase our drive to learn. Many games are set in historically or scientifically accurate environments which is great for tickling curiosity. A great example is the intricate Assassin’s Creed series. Since the first game, Assasin’s Creed painstakingly recreates fully interactive ancient sites from various points throughout human history. Parents who encouraged their children to study subjects relevant to games they had played reported much higher engagement. Simultaneously, online gaming communities connect passionate gamers from all over the world. This transforms that gaming headset glued to your kid’s head into a portal to greater cross-cultural understanding.

Playing Video Games Improves Memory and Multitasking

Getting stuck in a video game enhances our short and long term memory.  Remembering game instructions, layouts, and story lines acts as a powerful brain trainer. The results are traceable in growth of parts of the brain relating to memory. Adults can help prevent Alzheimer’s by absorbing themselves in 3D games. In parallel to boosting our recall capacity, gaming can help us multitask with greater efficiency. Gamers can focus on up to six things at once, according to a recent study. Non-gamers, according to the same study, can only focus on four. This is attributed to speedy stimulation, which helps us tune up our capacity to process things more quickly.

A Positive Impact During Adolescence

A study looked at 16-year-old students attempted to dig into the myth that gaming has a negative impact on adolescents. Rather than unearthing damage done by gaming, they discovered only positive impacts. The students exhibited greater mental health, greater self-awareness, and lower inclination towards substance abuse. A study that might hold the explanation observed several helpful ways that gaming can serve. Gamers can enjoy the therapeutic benefit of experiencing a heightened sense of achievement and control, the escapism that immersion in a virtual world provides, and the chance to socialize with and relate to others.

Gaming Potential for Mental Health

Video games are being used to treat disabled patients as a form of digital therapy, thanks to the brain growth stimulation it offers. From autism support, to rehabilitation after brain injury, the applications are far reaching. Video games can also help increase awareness of mental health issues. Ninja Theory created exactly such a game in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which centered around a character suffering from psychosis. The game has been celebrated for giving people with the disease hope, as well as helping others understand what those who suffer from psychosis experience. More on Hellblade HERE.

Playing Games Can Actually Make Us Better People

While parents might be concerned that playing video games could dent their kid’s morality, researchers found that gamers taking on the role of a villain gained greater connection to a sense of remorse. Their study concluded that gaming could lessen the likelihood that a child will bully others. Another study found that those who like to game are more likely to play the superhero in real life, jumping in to rescue someone in trouble. The connections that people build through gaming communities can lead to fantastic results. The developers of a popular social platform set gamers the challenge to plant 25,000 trees inside their virtual environment in just 25 days. The developers matched the achievement with 25,000 trees planted in the real world too after gamers hit the target. Talk about gaming for a good cause!

Harnessing the Power of Game Play

So, as surprising as it might seem to some people, jumping in front of a screen with friends or family and leaving the real world behind for a while, can have life changing impacts. Gaming and eSports can be transformative for our work, social, and home life. Best of all? We harness the best of these benefits when we come together to game. With that in mind, why not experience some excitement, and become a part of a community united in fun? We look forward to welcoming you at The eSports Cave, coming soon to Austin, Texas, where you will discover exactly that!