Losing yourself in a game of Overwatch is more than just a fun way to spend your weekend. In fact, research shows that gaming is actually good for you. Sure, video games can be addictive, but despite all the negative consequences of gaming that you hear about, researchers show that playing video games does more good than harm. So, if you’re looking for some good excuses to stay put in that gaming chair, check out some of the mind-blowing benefits of playing video games listed below.
1. It strengthens cognitive skills.
The American Psychological Association (APA) points to research that shows when kids play video games, they often show improvement in key cognitive skills. This includes memory, reasoning, perception, and spatial navigation.
2. It improves your problem solving skills.
When kids play strategic games, studies show that problem-solving skills are improved. The APA notes that this is particularly true for those who play role-playing video games.
3. It enhances creativity.
While the APA notes that these results were not seen for any other type of technology, research does show that playing video games enhances creativity. This is true even of gamers who play violent video games.
4. It improves happiness and anxiety levels.
Got a simple game like Candy Crush or Angry Birds on your phone? Keep playing it in your spare time because research shows that easy games that can be played quickly boosts happiness levels and reduce anxiety in players. The APA notes that some researchers believe this is because failure in the games creates emotional resilience that players can rely on in everyday situations.
5. It can make you more helpful.
A 2011 study shows that games which require cooperation, even if a violent game, results in more helpful people. It seems that cooperating with others in the game world translates into being more helpful with others in the real world.
6. It improves decision making.
Playing video games often requires split-second decision making. This skill translates into real world situations for gamers, who end up making better quick decisions in their every day life. This research is backed up by a 2014 article in the American Journal of Play.
7. It can treat your lazy eye.
Do you, or someone you know, suffer from amblyopia? More commonly known as “lazy eye,” this condition has shown improvement in adults who covered their good eye while playing video games (source: American Journal of Play).
8. It makes surgeons more precise.
If you’re having surgery, then you want your surgeon to make as a few errors as possible, right? Well then, hope that your doctor is a video gamer! Mental Floss notes that surgeons who game at least three hours per week make 32 percent fewer errors than their non-gaming counterparts.
9. It helps your dyslexia.
If you, or someone you know, suffers from dyslexia, then video games just might be the answer to overcoming this condition. According to the APA, research has shown that games heavy on the action component can result in better reading comprehension among gamers who suffer from dyslexia.
10. It improves your vision.
As a kid, you probably learned that eating carrots improves your eyesight. Well, your parents should have been encouraging you to play more video games as research shows that gamers have better vision than non-gamers. In fact, National Geographic News notes that research by Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester shows an improvement in contrast sensitivity function, which is crucial to driving at night and reading. However, it is important to note that participants in the study who played non-action games (like The Sims) did not see the same improvement in vision.
11. It helps with goal setting.
Playing video games can help you set and reach goals in the real world, all due to having to achieve goals in the game. Dr. Mark Griffiths notes this effect has been seen in children, but other studies also show that the same is true with adults. In fact, Mental Floss notes that it makes adults better leaders because the goal setting and motivation learned in the virtual world translates to the workplace and results in career boosts.
12. It brings pain relief.
The next time you’re experiencing some pain, try picking up a game controller for some sweet relief. A study from 2011 shows that playing video games works as an active distraction from the pain experience, which results in the gamer feeling no pain or significantly less pain. For the most pain relief benefit, stick with games that are very immersive.
13. It reduces cravings.
A study by Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology concludes that playing a puzzle game like Tetris for as little as three minutes a few times per day reduces cravings for everything from drugs to sex to food by as much as 20 percent. Additionally, the study reported that when participants followed up a craving with a game of Tetris, it lowered their craving levels from 70 percent to 56 percent.
14. It relieves stress.
Tough day at the office? When you get home, play some video games because a 2010 study shows that playing video games relieves stress. In the study, which was conducted by Texas A&M International University associate professor, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, participants who played a violent video game showed the most relief from stress.
15. It helps with depression.
Though the media often portrays gamers as depressed loners, the truth is that playing your video games can actually give you some relief from depression. In fact, the same Texas A&M study mentioned above concluded that depression relief was a benefit among participants. An additional study with the same conclusions was referenced in a 2015 Slate article.
16. It makes you more resilient.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Jane McGonigal notes that playing video games seems to make people less likely to give up in tough situations. This is likely due to the repeated dedication that it takes to level up in some video games.
17. It builds self confidence.
A 2010 study posted in the Review of General Psychology found that some video games result in a self confidence boost for the player. This effect was noticed with purposeful game play, or games with a positive goal. This includes world-building games, problem-solving games, and games that require creativity. Examples of such games include Portal, Minecraft, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Words with Friends.
18. It gets kids interested in culture and history.
Researchers David Shaffer and James Gee discovered that certain types of video games can spark a real interest in learning about culture and history in the kids who play them. Such games include Age of Mythology, Civilization, and Age of Empires. This sets the child up for a love of deep and complex learning throughout his formative years.
19. It encourages a positive attitude towards other nationalities.
An Irish study conducted by Killian Forde and Catherine Kenny shows that kids who play multi-player games have a most positive attitude towards people of other nationalities. When compared to non-gaming peers, the gamers in the study showed a 62 percent favorability towards people from other countries versus just 50 percent among non-gamers. This is thought to be due to a lack of diversity in the child’s school compared to the online gaming world.