Video games are bad for you? The hell they are!

3 Reasons Why Gaming Is Good for You

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Gaming advantages

Image credit: Nintendo

According to the American Psychological Association, playing video games, including shooter games, can promote learning, health and social skills. But why is this so?

"In front of the screen you just go dumb", "You still get lonely in your room when you're just playing". Everyone has heard at least once of these sentences in their youth. With a sigh, we were all given the whole intervention speech only so we can finish our game a short time later.

Raiden Mortal Kombat 11

Image credit: Netherrealm Studios

As time went by, there were more and more new studies and we learned that playing video games actually has the opposite effect. How good is gaming for you, really?

Gaming can strengthen a number of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, logical thinking, memory, and perception. The studies go even further: it has been found that playing FPS games improves the ability to think about objects in three dimensions as well as academic courses that target the same skills.

Let's look at it, step by step, for all those who want to face the anti-gamer next time with some well-rounded arguments.

Reason 1: Keep in Touch with Friends, Meet People Around the World

Gaming can be super social. Have you ever been up the whole night? You don't have to answer that. You have probably communicated with friends or strangers, either in-game or for some banter.

With Discord, you can talk and text via VoIP in a chat channel if you are in the middle of the action or planning the next step. In cooperative games, you can pass weapons to your friends during a game, give cover and make the whole experience much more pleasant by coordinating. You can do this either by text or through headphones with a microphone. In other words, it's like you and your friends are in the same room.

Moreover, a long time ago, the only way to meet new people from different parts of the country or the world was to make pen pals with them. You sent letters back and forth and talked about your private life, about your city, and so on.

In video games, you can casually chat with someone you wouldn't normally get to talk to, whether it's a friend living abroad or a complete stranger you happened to play against. It's easier because you already share the same hobby. Who says that this is not communication or that gaming is a lonely hobby? That might have been the case back when it was just consoles but today things are quite different. Despite the criticism that playing isolates the players, it turns out it's exactly the opposite.

Super Mario

Image credit: Nintendo

Reason 2: Better Decision-Making Skills

For those who don't play, it could look like a bunch of incoherent running around and shooting. But the gaming experience says otherwise. Playing requires skill, coordination, and strategy to make the best of it. You have to use your brain and think a couple of steps ahead in order to counter your opponent. In some games, quick and spontaneous decisions are also required.

It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster. Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference.

That's a quote by C. Shawn Green of the University of Rochester, who conducted a study with young adults without gaming experience, in which he had them play an action game for 50 hours. It's like a board game but your opponents come at you much faster and in real-time, so you have to act fast.

A colleague of his even went on to say that shooter games can change the brain by dramatically improving many of our low-level perceptual functions. This is definitely good news for all the Halo and Call of Duty fans out there.

Reason 3: Video Games Increase Focus, Improve Attention

One of the biggest concerns of parents today is that their children sit in class and think only about video games and Pokémon instead of listening to the teacher.

But even here, it's different than you think. To find out whether video games help children improve their attention spans by improving cognition and perception, a researcher named Vikranth Bejjanki and several colleagues conducted some experiments. In these tests, two groups of experienced and inexperienced players first had to perform various cognitive tasks such as pattern discrimination.

In the end, the gamers scored better than the other group, who rarely, if ever, played video games before the experiment.

Increased learning of the regularity and structure of environments can act as a core mechanism by which playing action video games affects performance in perception, attention and cognition.

In other words, playing video games improves several skills, including attention.

Video games are therefore beneficial because they deal with different facets of our daily lives. Some of the benefits are physical, psychological, and other are social.

Contrary to the popular belief of video game critics, they can promote a healthy lifestyle and increased social activity in various ways. BUT! Just like most good things, make sure you don't overdo it. Get enough sleep, food, and stay hydrated while playing. This will help not only with staying healthy but also increase your in-game performance. Burnout and stress are not only found in the competitive scene. Consider that the most successful pro players have a strict training regime and tend to follow it.

Video credit: p e r c y via YouTube

In other words, don't isolate yourself in your room playing video games 24/7. You can be a gamer and leave a healthy lifestyle, as the two things don't contradict. Just don't let people put you down by saying that video games are bad for you!

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