Video Games Can Help Improve Your Social Skills
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Perhaps one of the oldest stereotypes about the gaming community is that it is filled with a bunch of anti-social people who live in the darkest corner of their mother’s basement. Research published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, however, suggests that that stereotype is all wrong. Shocker.
Almost any avid gamer will tell you that diving into gaming culture is an incredibly social experience that encourages interaction with others. From the years of arcade culture (where gamers literally came together under one roof to enjoy playing video games) to modern online gaming (where players are encouraged to interact with other players in chat rooms), the gaming culture actually helps pull some anti-social people out of reclusive behavior. Researchers also discovered that gamers are likely to become more social by watching and interacting with their peers who are also playing video games. Again, shocker.
Helps Slow the Aging Process
The natural aging process involves mental deterioration over time but it turns out that playing video games could actually help slow down that process. A study from researchers at the University of Iowa found that playing a brain-teasing game for two hours a week could help slow down the degree of mental decay that happens over time. So the next time you’re making your way through the shrines in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, just think about how much longer you’ll live because of it.
It Could Help Kids With Dyslexia
Dyslexia is an incredibly common learning disability that has a variety of different theories about how to best deal with it. Researchers at Oxford University believe dyslexia should be treated as an attention issue that might be able to be improved with the help of video games. Researchers explain that video games do a great job of training the brain’s attention system. When you really think about it, what else can easily command your attention for hours at a time without you even realizing it? Well, other than Facebook.
Either way, video games force players to stay focused on varying tasks for long periods of time and it turns out that that’s the kind of exercise that could make a huge difference for someone struggling with dyslexia.
Horror Games Can Build Your Immune System
Just when you started to wonder why you were scaring yourself half to death for the sake of a video game, a study comes along to make you seem not quite so crazy. A group of researchers took a look at how thrills, like being scared, could actually help activate white blood cells and boost your immune system. The study specifically took a look at how our bodies react to being scared when watching horror films but it’s safe to say that the same effect applies to making your way through a terrifying video game.
In fact, being the one in control during a daunting horror-filled adventure might even scare you more than being able to passively experience the thrills from a film. So next time you feel yourself getting a bit under the weather, it might be time to run through Resident Evil 7 again.
Video Games Tend to Improve Your Memory
Think about how many times you were playing a video game and you just happened to remember where you saw a particular item, how you fought a particular boss, which path you took three weeks ago, what combo works best against different enemies and all the other important tidbits of information we hold on to when gaming. Most gamers can easily switch from one video game to the next and still remember the controls for another game, where they were in the mission, and what they need to do next.
Well, it turns out that there might be a reason for that. Multiple studies revealed that video games tend to improve a person’s memory. IFLscience breaks down the studies saying, “Research funded by the U.K.’s Medical Research Council has revealed that basic computer game training sessions are able to ‘rewire’ the brains of children, improving their neural connectivity and memory over a short period of time.”
VR Is a Great Anxiety and Pain Reliever
Say what you want about virtual reality but playing VR games might be just what the doctor ordered for some people struggling with anxiety and stress. A presentation at the American Pain Society’s annual meeting in 2010 suggested that VR gaming could be used as a way to help reduce pain and anxiety associated with chronic illnesses or major medical procedures. The research presented here gave scientific validity to a claim that most gamers have made since they first fell in love with playing video games—becoming immersed in a new, interactive world helps you deal with the stress, anxiety, and pain that exists in the real one.
VR gaming allows the brain to dedicate more of its focus, and therefore more of your senses, on something other than the real world around you. For medical patients dealing with long-term illnesses or prolonged recovery periods, VR gaming could possibly make quite the impact to keep them happy while they heal.
Gaming Can Help With Depression
You are probably thinking this falls along the lines of blowing things up can make someone feel better by letting out aggression, but that’s actually not why researchers think video games help with depression. Two separate studies actually cite a video game’s ability to improve cognitive functioning as a reason why a game can also help with depression. A direct correlation has been found between playing video games and increasing your ability to focus and pay attention. Researchers believe that improving those abilities can help people, specifically older adults, deal with depression and ease their symptoms.
Motion Control Games Can Help You Stay Active
This one probably isn’t quite so surprising to anyone who has ever owned a Wii. When the Wii first hit shelves and became the massive success that we know it as today, there were many gamers working up a sweat to beat their friends in a digital game of bowling, baseball, horse riding, tennis, and so much more. It was often completely easy to forget just how active you were playing the Wii until you realized you had a sudden urge to turn on the ceiling fan, switch into the loosest t-shirt possible and chug a bottle of water before you went right back to trying to beat your friend’s high score. Now with more and more console options featuring motion controllers, especially in the age of VR, there are even more ways to keep your gaming sessions active.
First-Person Shooters Can Help Your Eyesight
Think about all the years your parents told you not to play video games too long because staring at the television would ruin your eyesight. Now call your parents up and demand an apology! Not really. Don’t do that. But it turns out that staring at the television might not be so bad if you’re playing a shooting game. Research findings published in the Nature Neuroscience journal found that playing first-person shooters can improve something called the contrast sensitivity function. This function is defined as the “ability to distinguish between finer and finer increments of light versus dark.”
In more simple terms, improving this function can make it easier for you to see while driving at night, and reading certain types of text to detect subtle changes that others might overlook. Playing fast paced shooting games is the perfect way to give your eyes the type of training it needs to retain this function.
Improves Hand-Eye Coordination
This is perhaps one of the most well-known and discussed benefits of playing video games and comes as a surprise to very few people. No matter what type of video game you play, every game requires your mind to process something it sees and tell your hands to respond accordingly. If you think about that in terms of a mental exercise, every time you pick up a controller your building your hand-eye coordination, according to multiple different studies.
One of the more recent studies was published in the scientific journal Psychological Science. This study, which focused on action and racing games, compared a group of gamers versus a control group of non-gamers and found that the gaming group had better response times than the control group.