Five Surprising Benefits of Gaming
Even the most active and passionate gamers are guilty of viewing this pastime as nothing more than a way to keep boredom at bay. While this is true, there are many surprising benefits associated with playing games, both online and in-person. For example, gaming can improve your cognitive abilities or provide you with a chance to connect with other players across the world, becoming part of a global community.
With that in mind, here are five surprising benefits of gaming – otherwise known as five excuses to start playing your favorite games more often!
- Gaming can improve your ability to focus.
- Gaming can improve your self-esteem.
- Gaming can support your child’s development.
- Gaming can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Gaming can prevent social isolation.
Gaming can improve your ability to focus.
Believe it or not, there are many cognitive benefits associated with online gaming, including the fact that it can improve your ability to focus for long periods of time. For example, when playing sorting or puzzle-based games, such as the suika game, absolute concentration is often necessary. Therefore, by immersing yourself in the game, you are challenging yourself to stay focused until you’ve solved the puzzle. The more practiced you are, the easier it will be to tap into a more focused mindset – something that can prove to be invaluable moving forward.
After all, by strengthening this skill, you may find it easier to focus on other tasks in your day-to-day life, though they may be markedly less interesting than a game. For example, you may find that you’re able to focus more on completing a complicated work task after you’ve spent some time playing a game beforehand. This is because it can help you to clear your mind, reduce worries, and provide you with a sense of motivation and determination. Without this, you may find that you’re constantly seeking out distractions.
Gaming can improve your self-esteem.
Winning games does not only help you to become a better gamer, but it can also boost your self-esteem quite considerably. This is because ‘winning’ a game or achieving a high score makes it feel as though we’ve been investing our time and energy wisely. It also means that we’ve developed the skills we need to excel, both of which can elevate our self-confidence levels.
Our self-esteem and confidence are also heightened when we complete a challenging level or execute a particular move that takes time to conquer. This is because it proves to ourselves (and others we may be playing with) that we’re able to rise to a challenge.
When playing games against others, whether that be online or in person, victory can also increase our confidence or self-esteem levels. This is because “when we win, we produce more dopamine, which triggers a good feeling in the reward area of your brain that you want to experience again and again.” This can also reduce our body’s production of stress-inducing hormones, such as cortisol, which has a similar effect on our mood and psyche.
Gaming can support your child’s development.
Gaming can benefit players of all ages. However, various studies have found that gaming can boost a child’s social and academic development quite considerably, depending upon the games in which they play. For example, maths or literacy-based games disguise learning opportunities as something fun, which means they’re more likely to remain actively engaged in their learning. When used in classroom environments (or assigned as homework tasks), they can solidify their knowledge of topics explored in class.
Playing games with others can also improve a child’s communication skills while also teaching them the importance of empathy and understanding. For example, this is reflected in their ability to offer support to players who may be struggling or condolences when a friend loses a game.
Beyond this, certain games can encourage a child to tap into their creativity in order to solve a problem. This is a useful skill that they can then carry into their daily life and academic studies.
Gaming can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Believe it or not, you can also beat stress by playing games. However, it is important that you are intentional when choosing which games you’d like to play in order to reduce stress. For example, a high-energy, action-based game could actually elevate your cortisol levels as opposed to reducing them. However, puzzle-based games are said to be excellent stress relievers, likely because they distract you from whatever is going on around you. They also provide you with a sense of satisfaction once the puzzle is complete.
Either way, gaming can provide you with a sense of escapism, something that is sorely needed when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. After all, when playing a game, you are unlikely to be thinking about anything else, be that issues at work or within your personal life. This is especially true when playing narrative-based games, as you feel as though you’re leaving the real world behind for a while when playing.
Gaming can also reduce your anxiety levels. For example, adventure and story-based games, such as D&D, can provide players with a sense of comfort. This is because they “offer a certain sense of security versus the unstructured and more chaotic real-life world. While there still may be unexpected situations to the player, everything is still within the predictable physics and storyline of the game.”
Gaming can prevent social isolation.
Multiplayer games (online or in person) encourage players to interact with others. For this reason, they can help to prevent isolation, particularly among at-risk groups such as senior citizens or those with social anxiety.
For example, they help players combat social anxiety by giving them the chance to interact with others in a scenario that they feel generally more comfortable in. This way, they’re less likely to face the same communication barriers they’d face in an unfamiliar environment or scenario, which can encourage them to open up. Similarly, it gives them the chance to interact with people with similar hobbies and interests, making it easier to forge friendships and relationships without fear of judgment and rejection.
As mentioned above, gaming can also prevent social isolation among senior citizens – which is why so many care homes encourage residents to play games such as bingo, chess, or Scrabble. However, recently, studies have found that video games can have a similar positive effect when bringing people together, especially those who may be older and spending a lot of time on their own.
The benefits of gaming for seniors are further enhanced by the fact that it can help them refine and sharpen their cognitive skills. For example, one study found that, “engaging games and puzzles may reduce dementia risk in older adults. Those who engaged in activities that exercised their brain were 9% to 11% less likely to develop dementia than their peers.”
In short, while gaming is a lot of fun, it’s also much more beneficial than you may believe. Whether you’re looking for a way to combat negative feelings of stress and anxiety or to make new friends and strengthen your communication skills.
With that in mind, now is the perfect time to host a gaming day with friends or try out a new game. Remember, you don’t need to play endless hours of games in order to feel their benefit, especially if you’re looking for a quick escape from the stress of everyday life. Even as little as ten or fifteen minutes of gameplay can make a real difference in your mood and outlook!