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Evidence surrounding the impacts of gaming has progressed leaps and bounds over the years. Once met with contempt by concerned parents everywhere and intertwined with a moral panic debate that equated gaming with violent behavior, a growing body of research seems to find favor with gaming’s virtues.
While in some households, gaming may still be shorthand for “avoiding homework”, attitudes are beginning to shift. Here, we look at five surprising benefits behind gaming in the modern era.
Promote Problem-Solving Skills
Video games are developed to be complex mazes and puzzles that require hours of trial, error, and critical thinking to try and crack. As a result, many games to tend to improve problem-solving abilities in users by the volume of diagnostics gamers are faced with.
On a cognitive level, this can have incredible benefits to a person’s mental capabilities. The brain is a muscle and, like any muscle, it requires exercise. The constant need for strategy and fast decision-making of gaming makes for an active mental workout.
Persistence is another related quality promoted by video games. Users are continually learning from their mistakes in their quest toward virtual goals. As a result, gamers are said to develop persistence in real-world situations, often treating their missteps not as mistakes, but as learning opportunities.
These skills perhaps contribute to the increasing interest in the world of competitive gaming where people play video games for real money. The superhuman skills of some players contribute to their cult-like followings.
Studies have increasingly pointed to heightened creativity as a result of gaming. Many video games stimulate the “creative juices” in the brain, but it is not quite as simple as that.
It depends on what games you’re playing. Games that foster creativity, such as design, are the ones that are most effective. More specifically, games where you can create environments, cities, homes, communities, etc., are found to be some of the best for unlocking creativity.
Though, again, there are qualifiers to this. It has been found that people who willingly play games are more likely to experience a boost in creativity, whereas those who are instructed to play games don’t experience the same surge in creativity.
Gaming technology has advanced so far in recent years that it’s even possible for games to trick you into learning. Although, users can also learn voluntarily through language and rehearsal games.
Even since the early years, game developers have been tricking gamers into learning by incorporating math and riddles into video games. This virtual deception is continuing to grow alongside games’ increasing complexity. Gamers now learn about topics that range from architecture, politics, history, and science.
In fact, while many children were out of school during 2020, many parents opted to allow their children to play educational games at home during their downtime.
A new breed of fitness-focused video games, affectionately dubbed “exergames”, now exists. These games use cordless controllers with movement sensors and gamers meet their targets when their actions most closely meet the games’ requirements. This, as opposed to the simple push of a button.
However, the benefits of exergames are occasionally contested. Many children have learned to trick sensor controllers in these games by using a flick of the wrist instead of a full-body movement to achieve the desired result, for example.
The real benefit, though, can be for those who are actively looking to get fit. These people are less likely to cheat, and are also tricked into enjoying exercise through the gaming experience as many people probably find gaming more fun than a treadmill.
Improve Social Skills
With this last point, we see another stereotype being challenged—that of the lonely introvert playing video games alone all day long. Many games have the multi-player function and, over time, games have become increasingly collaborative.
With the internet now playing such a fundamental role in gaming experiences, many gamers connect with strangers online to either duel or work collaboratively with. This means that many people are making new friends with people across the world, often of different cultural backgrounds and languages, from the comfort of their own home. Further, video games are increasingly becoming something that many people can bond over.
Evidently, there have been a great deal of misconceptions about games over the years. Games can provide a wonderfully positive experience for players, whether through education, increased fitness, mental activity, or making new friends. Obviously, moderation is the key, but the days of considering games a “waste of time” should surely be behind us.