How Gaming Can Improve Your Life

How Gaming Can Improve Your Life

How Gaming Can Improve Your Life

Posted by CJ Wilson

27 Jan, 2021


How Gaming Can Improve Your Life

Despite gaming’s undeserved rep as a colossal time-waster for nerds who don’t like going outside, video games have become one the strongest forms of media to date. In the UK, games have overtaken music and film combined. But gaming isn’t just a beloved hobby. It also offers numerous powerful benefits.

Some of these benefits are anecdotal, but others are backed up by extensive research, and the improvements can be scientifically quantified and measured. As a whole, it appears that gaming is more than fun; it can be outright good for you. 

Scientifically Proven Benefits

Given the hand-eye coordination required to use a controller or keyboard in the sort of fast-paced, high-stress situations that video games throw at players, it should come as no surprise that gaming has been shown to increase dexterity and hand-eye coordination. In fact, the military has found that gamers tend to have better in-flight reflexes than non-gamers, and a study of small-incision surgeons found that those who gamed more than three hours per week made 32 percent fewer errors than non-gamers. That means they’re nearly a third less likely to, say, nick an artery while removing a piece of metal stuck in a patient’s gut.

Gamers know that fast-paced action isn’t the only (or even the largest) category of gaming. A huge segment of the industry is made up of games where puzzles, pathfinding and other feats of intelligence, memory and spatial reasoning determine triumph or tragedy. Given that the brain functions like a muscle whose abilities can be strengthened with practice, you might be able to predict the results of this. A 2015 study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that [gaming improved patients’ memory capacity. Another study published in the Public Library of Science in 2013 showed a number of intellectual benefits of gaming, including eliminating attentional blink and improving cognitive control, visual search performance, special working memory and complex verbal span.

“Executive functioning,” which is the wider blanket under which the previous qualities fall, and which includes our ability to allot and control those intellectual resources, has also shown marked benefits as a result of gaming. Studies have displayed gaming’s ability to improve multitasking and mental flexibility and to reduce age-based mental decline. 

“Soft” Skill Improvement

Some benefits of gaming are looser, more ethereal and harder to study, and those unfamiliar with gaming may be unaware that these come with the territory. That said, I believe these benefits are far more interesting than those listed above. They’re the much-vaunted “soft skills” that can help us in all areas of life, from socializing to career-building.

The first is strengthened leadership and teamwork. These buzzwords are used often in the professional world, but even outside of the office, the ability to work with a team and, when necessary, lead them is incredibly valuable. Many games these days are extremely social and team focused. From powerhouses like Dota 2 and League of Legends to Call of Duty: Warzone and co-op classics like Gears of War or Portal 2, these games are designed to push players into challenges with people at their side whose cooperation will determine success. As a result, players receive ample training in working alongside others and, occasionally, leading a team—even if their teammates can frustrate them sometimes.

On that note, gaming can also teach patience. Many games are very difficult. It’s not as simple as watching a movie, pressing a button or pointing and clicking. In fact, some extremely popular games, like the “Soulsbourne” franchise (a portmanteau of Dark Souls and Bloodborne) are played specifically because of their difficulty. Players fail, fail and fail again. The only way to get through is to keep improving and to keep fighting. To succeed, you need to develop patience and resilience.

A sense of calm is doubly useful for the last skill: planning and strategizing. Especially among the PC and RPG crowds, an enormous subset of video games is all about your ability to think ahead and analyze. In fact, some hardcore entries like Factorio are almost wholly analytical. Your success depends on your ability to take in a wide swath of info, possibly under stress, analyze it and then translate these numbers into meaningful and actionable information.

So, What Does All This Mean? 

Gaming isn’t just a fun way to pass the time or relieve stress, though gaming has been shown to increase mental health for just that reason. Rather, because it’s a hobby that requires our active involvement, gaming produces numerous strong benefits that can’t be reproduced nearly as easily anywhere else. Sure, the majority of gaming may not be that great for us physically, but the mental and social benefits are powerful enough to make it a worthwhile hobby for anyone who’s looking to improve their life.


About Author

CJ Wilson

CJ Wilson is a freelance writer and novelist specializing in game writing, journalism, and non-profit work. His writing expertise includes gaming, law, nature/environmental writing, literature, and travel. As a novelist, he specializes in character-focused fantasy and sci-fi.

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