You are here today reading this story because you want to convince yourself or show your parents that you need video games. Video games have been enthralling the masses since decades with colourful characters, exciting stories and action and hours of entertainment.

Despite the traditional belief that they are merely an addictive source of fun and diversion, recent studies have proved repeatedly that there are numerous benefits of playing video games. The key impacting area among them is the development of cognitive skills in both adults and children.

Just as physical workouts help in improving and strengthening muscles, cognitive games help to indulge one’s brain in constant stimulation, thus improving the brain’s performance.

benefits of playing
Courtesy: Entrepreneur.India

We are not justifying any gaming binges or validating any biasedness towards gaming. There is a good reason one should try and regulate their gaming hours as it’s very addictive. However, when played in moderation, there are some amazing benefits and here we present a few.

1. Play games to enhance memory

If you are wondering where you put your keys and wallet again, we think it’s time you dust off the video game console. Because boosting and improving memory is one of the many significant advantages of playing your favourite video games.

A number of studies over the recent years have shown that playing video games can lead to structural changes in the brain, including activating areas responsible for attention or visual-spatial skills. This is because video games have proven to be able to capture gamers’ attention for the entire duration of the game.

gaming boosts memory
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To win the game, the player needs to achieve certain objectives within the game and for that they are required to pay utmost attention throughout the gameplay. They need to remember instructions from beginning till the end and master the keys on the keyboard while progressing level after level. These daily practices help players improve their memory, whether short- term or long-term.

However, players have to pick their favourite offline or online games wisely if they want to reap the true benefits. It seems not all games are created equal; 3D games have a special reputation of increasing memory capacity. Their engaging and enriching 3D virtual environments provide the brain with meaningful stimulations.

Improving the brain’s speed is also one of the many advantages of playing. When you play games, your brain is continuously working to interpret and act instantly, which directly influences the mind to process things quicker.

2. Improve hand-eye co-ordination by gaming

Video games are not just fun and gay; in fact, the advantages of playing are far greater than what meets the eye. Various studies around the world have shown a direct correlation between playing action games and an improvement in sensory and motor skills.

In 2014, University of Toronto conducted an experiment to see if the advantages of playing video games also include the improvement of hand-eye coordination. The experiment involved pitting 18 gamers against 18 non-gamers. Both groups had to play a game which required them to use the computer mouse to track a small square on the screen that would move around in a complicated and repeated pattern.

While everyone did pretty terribly at the beginning, however, after a while, the group of gamers improved significantly compared to the group of non-gamers. The study proved that people who regularly play action games, like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, are able to cultivate better sensory and motor skills and have an advantage in learning patterns.

gaming promotes health
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Amongst all advantages of playing video games, improvement of responses and hand-eye co-ordination is the most advantageous, especially for surgeons. In 2007, a team of doctors conducted a study which showed that surgical residents and medical students who played action video games performed better on the simulators that provided training for laparoscopic surgery. Surgeon who play games make fewer errors, are faster and score better than those who rarely play video games.

Different studies conducted around the world show the profound impact of video games on sensory and motor skills. If you think of the brain as a muscle, then video games are part of a workout regimen that strengthens the muscles and keeps it toned for peak performance. So keep working on that!

3. Play games to help your eyesight

Forget carrots, playing video games is helping you see better in the dark!

According to a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience in 2009, playing action video games may help adults improve their eyesight. The research suggests that games involving aiming and shooting can significantly improve a person’s night time vision. Action games improve the ability to “see objects in twilight conditions, when colours fade into different shades of grey”.

Researchers, as part of the experiment, studied two groups who played video games for 50 hours during a nine-week course. One group played action games like Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004, while the other played non-action games such as Sims 2 which doesn’t require precise, visually guided aiming actions.

Gamers who chose to play games based on action showed enhanced contrast sensitivity compared to those in the non-action game group. Professor Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester, who led this research said that the ability to discern slight differences in shades of grey or contrast sensitivity, is the primary limiting factor in how well one sees.

gaming improves eyesight
Courtesy: Vision Hack

The research also claimed that playing video games could be just as effective as medically proven treatments in improving visual contrast sensitivity – the ability to differentiate objects that do not stand out clearly against their background. It would certainly be a giant leap for the gaming industry if playing video games could someday become a significant part of vision-correction treatments.

4. Reap the benefits of playing and build connections

Until very recently, gaming was the exclusive domain of people without friends and social lives. Well, things are taking a turn as people are now accepting a new form of socializing in which players come together to work towards a common goal.

Improving your social skills is one of the handiest advantages of playing games. Video games allow players to come together as a team and as such, there is constant communication between the players. This often leads to the development of meaningful relationships and a lot of gamers have developed good friendships with people they met through gaming.

social connections through gaming
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Video games have created a fun and engaging way of connecting with people and can help a person develop social skills. Advantages of playing include improving co-operation skills and supporting skills as certain games require players to work together and form alliances to proceed to higher levels.

There are also online games which yield better results when players work together, thus encouraging people to be social. In some video games, players are given the opportunity to take a leader’s position which again demands greater social networking skills and team work.

All these skills are essential to maintain a social life in the outside world. Studies have shown that video games create and improve relationships amongst people. So much so that gamers who partake in social events are often the friendliest and the most communicative people out there.

5. Gamers are efficient problem solvers

Did you know that gamers are out-of-the-box problem solvers? At the heart of every video game is a challenge and gamers are required to think carefully before making any move so they stay within the limits of that particular game.

In video games where decision making is often reduced to split seconds, gamers needs to use their brain power to the fullest before acting on the next step. And this essence of gaming serves one of the most functional benefits of playing – boosting problem solving skills.

Video games help solve real-world problems in a couple of ways; to begin with, they help you learn from your mistakes. We all make mistakes but the difference of making one in real life and in video games is during gaming, we know immediately the moment we made the mistake.

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If someone is trying to jump from a cliff to another and fails to do so, he understands the distances are too long to jump. This is a very crucial skill in real-life as the ability to learn from mistakes is important to strive for success.

Trying different approaches to solve a problem is also one of the many advantages of playing video games. The trial and error approach teach people who play games that the solutions and the approaches one takes aren’t always obvious, and there is no harm in trying another way.

At last, as funny as it may seem, gaming also teaches you when to give up. In real-life, people often try to break the shell with the first stick they pick, but that may not always be pertinent. It’s through video games that a gamer realises not to cross the minefield by running across it because he learns soon enough that it always blows up.

6. Benefits of playing include boosting mental health

As a new era of gaming is dawning upon us, advantages of playing video games are reaching new heights. According to a study from Oxford University, playing video games can be good for a person’s mental well-being.

The research primarily focused on players of Nintendo’s springtime craze Animal Crossing, as well as EA’s shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. It found that people who play games, even for a short span of time, tended to report greater “wellbeing” than people who don’t play games at all.

The findings of the study, published in November 2020, came following a breakthrough partnership in which academics at the university worked with actual gameplay data. Crucially, the study was one of the first to be done using actual play-time data. Game makers Electronic Arts and Nintendo of America provided data on how much time the respondents spent playing, unlike previous research that relied on imprecise estimates from the players.

boost mental health
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The results of the study are turning the tables as they cast doubt on long-held assumptions that gaming causes aggression or addiction. They came at peak time as video game sales have boomed this year due to more people being stuck at home because of the pandemic.

Additionally, a few other studies suggest that releasing the happy hormone dopamine is also one of the great advantages of playing games. Whenever people do something they find pleasurable, brains release dopamine, the hormone associated with happiness. It is said to be released when people play games, making it an easily accessible way to brighten up the day.

7. Video games are stress relievers

While some games have the reputation of inducing stress, especially when you are struck down for the umpteenth time, the opposite can be also true. Video games actually affect your mind and help relieve stress in a number of ways.

Engagement and fun are some of the best yet the easiest ways to relieve stress. When you play games, you are fully engaged in the activity at hand and your mind doesn’t get a chance to focus on anything else. Gaming also releases dopamine which makes you feel good and euphoric, thus helping you cope with the stresses of the day.

These, however, aren’t the only advantages of playing in regards to relieving stress. The brain has a psychological pattern called the ‘Triumph Circuit’ that rewards engagement and makes you feel good upon overcoming challenges.

 

how to relieve stress
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Video games have cracked the circuit by presenting challenges and tools to overcome and succeed. And when you beat all the odds against you, it leads to feelings of satisfaction and competence that help counteract stress.

Video games also provide instant gratification so you don’t have to simply put in a minimal amount of time to receive a reward or accomplish something. It’s powerful, encouraging and satisfying since the outside world often works on the principle of delayed gratification.

8. Video games boost reading skills

Much to the chagrin of parents who believe their kids should spend less time playing video games and more time doing something ‘productive’, time spent playing action video games actually makes dyslexic children read better.

In 2013, a team of researchers from University of Padua published a paper presenting evidence that playing action-oriented video games can increase the reading comprehension skills of children with dyslexia.

To conduct the experiment, the researchers made two groups of children aged 7-13; one group played an action-packed game while the other played a relatively placid game. After playing, when the subjects’ reading skills were tested, it was found that the group which played the action-oriented video game was able to read faster and more accurately than the other.

benefits of gaming
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According to the authors, action video games hone visual attention span and teach gamers to gather critical information from the environment – two skills that are crucial to reading.

Many educators around the world are also taking to video games, specifically narrative-based digital games to engage students by engrossing them in a story. Story-rich games like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch have the potential to be taught as humanely and deeply as any traditional text.

Many online games include textual elements in the form of letters, clues, journals and newspaper articles which are embedded in the narrative, thus encouraging people to read. Games engage kids and students, and enable them to play and learn in authentic worlds they care about, where they need to read to be able to solve missions or interpret clues to move ahead.

9. You learn a lot from video games

Today, there are video games on just about anything and everything. Video games incorporate world history, cooking, politics, chemistry, fashion and many other topics that people are not generally exposed to in school.

Many games like Assassin’s Creed and Age of Empires use actual historical events to drive their stories. Big budget games are usually well researched and make an effort to dive deep into their relative subject matters, making them often accurate.

The characters and the places are set in the distant past, and when people play such games, it often leads to sparking interests in discovering more about different folks and cultures. One can learn about wars that were fought, famous generals, locations, structures, civilisations and many more.

video games give us knowledge
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While we are not suggesting you to believe a game over your history book, but more often than not, the two will agree. Beyond culture and history, there are also many games that teach you new skills. Advantages of playing include learning to paint, learning a new musical instrument, enhancing spatial ability, improving geographical skills and many more.

Gamers can even learn a thing or two about Physics from playing games like Kerbal Space Program. Further, there are also games that let you learn programming and typing skills. In short, if there is any activity that’s popular enough for more than a few humans to do, there’s definitely a game dedicated to it. And there’s no better or more fun way to learn something through gaming.