Gaming has had a bit of a negative time in the media lately (well, when doesn’t gaming?). In the aftermath of the tragic and shocking events in recent weeks, the controversial question “do video games cause violence?” has surfaced, once again.
From the perspective of the casual observer, some video game concepts can seem problematic. These themes certainly aren’t new, or limited to video games as a medium, either. Throughout the ages there’s always been mass panic against what’s hot in entertainment, from the anti-comic book movement to campaigns against both rock and rap music.
Film, novels, animation, television, music and art have all dabbled in pushing the boundaries. Gaming is just the most recent contender! But beyond the headlines, there are so many benefits to playing video games. The educational, mental-health and social gains to gaming have been proven again and again. Gaming can be good for you!
7 Ways Gaming Can be Good for You
Our aim is try to shift perspectives, bring out the goodness in what the gaming as a medium provides. Gaming can and does make a massive difference to millions of players each day – dynamic, rich and varied. Here are just 7 ways gaming can be good for you:
1. Video games help build social connections & teamwork
Whether its an online game or Mario Party in the living room, gaming has always been social. Since the coin-op arcade days and the birth of the Game Boy, lifelong friendships can be made through gaming!
Video games help build social connections through shared interest. It’s an icebreaker and something that’s so direct, so immediate – a shared experience. See an empty spot in a gaming convention or arcade? Why not join in! Conversation happens through shared activity. Gaming brings together players from all sorts of backgrounds; something to celebrate, no matter what your experience.
It also helps drive teamwork and healthy competition – whether it’s battling with friends in an online team or working together to solve a puzzle in the living room.
2. Gaming inspires creativity
From taking photos of gaming collections or drawing fan art, gaming paves the way to so much creativity! The internet has enabled content creators to explore, be inspired by and showcase their work. We can play games with audiences, live, on Twitch or create documentaries for YouTube. You can forge foam armour for stunning cosplay and record covers of gaming music. The possibilities are endless. There is definitely a craft for everyone to discover and master!
Gaming, especially over the last decade, has also given creators opportunities to forge their own careers. From full-time streaming to creating independent games. It’s still a tough journey to gain exposure, but there is definitely room for everyone to thrive in gaming today.
3. Gaming builds online connections
Instagram, Twitch and Twitter are such a great place to build a community, to be part of something special. There’s so much overlap in interest and a rich history of fandom. The differences pave the way to explore something new, too. Some of the most obscure games can get their moment in the spotlight thanks to friends sharing their discoveries. Some of the great friendships within the online gaming community are purely that, online!
These connections also bleed into conventions and meet-ups too! One particular example was started by YouTuber/collector @LukeLikesGames – who organised a massive tour Europe, travelling across the world to unite gaming communities and have a tonne of fun!
4. Gaming can help with mental health and stress
Gaming offers one way to cope with mental health struggles. Games can help get through challenging times, or simply to unwind after a stressful day. It’s a pathway, an escape to these fantasy worlds. The difference between watching TV and playing a game is how much you become involved. Being able to directly control the game and make decisions has been proven to help with your wellbeing.
Gaming has been proven to help manage mental health issues, from anxiety to PTSD. It could be a gritty open-world adventure or a quick stroll with Pokémon Go. How about a challenging Sudoku session or a gaming evening with friends? To the outsider, it may not seem it – but having a quick session can make a big, big difference to someone’s day. It’s a means of unwinding and relaxing.
5. Video games are dynamic, stimulating and engaging
Gaming can be good for you because of how it can be different each time. Some games are a little more linear than others, but most of the time the outcome can vary. The unpredictability and adapting to quick decisions is said to perk up the mind – especially from a younger age!
6. Gaming improves puzzle solving and pattern learning
The early argument against gaming in the ‘80s and ‘90s was “gaming rots your brain”, a time waster. Imagine with the vivid picture of hordes of zombie gamers devouring time. Not quite a realistic picture of the video gaming scene. Beyond the sensationalist headlines, gaming has a wide role to play in education. Puzzle solving and decision making – gaming stimulates the mind in a unique and non-passive way.
Video games help improve your spatial awareness, boost your memory – in particular the older generation. For the younger lot, gaming can help improve those problem-solving skills from a young age.
7. Gaming can help ease pain
For chronic pain and injuries, gaming has been said to help form part of a patient’s therapy. Of course, gaming won’t offer an instant cure; but in studies, have aided patients in being distracted from pain. Video games are an active form of entertainment – you’re deeply involved
Different games work for different people and situations – with newer technology, like Virtual Reality, paving the way for alternative treatments.
Image credits: @brolin, @joelstylis, @chenzer, @kartoshka699, @cullandnguyen
Video games are dynamic, engaging and gaming can be good for you – both in mind and body. Hopefully we can – as a community – help broaden perspectives, so those unfamiliar with the medium can truly see how incredible gaming can be.