While the negative effects of video games are well known, there is a growing body of research that suggest playing video games could have a range of surprising psychological and physiological benefits.
More than just mindless entertainment, video games demand that players devote a special level and quality of mental attention to the mission at hand, which results in the brain being fully engaged. When our brains are appropriately engaged, a series of amazing benefits start to unfold. Recent research shows that gaming can be beneficial for one’s psychological state, cognitive abilities and overall physical well-being.
Here are five surprising health benefits of playing video games:
Improve memory and other cognitive abilities
A 2015 study from the University of California, Irvine found that playing 3D video games could increase memory capacity. Participants were split into three groups. One third played
Super Mario 3D World for two weeks, the second played Angry Birds for two weeks and the third group played nothing. The group who played Super Mario 3D outperformed the other test groups in follow-up memory tasks. This indicates that gamers who have an engaging experience in a 3D virtual environment, stimulate their brain in a meaningful way that translates to higher cognitive functioning and better memory recall. Other studies have found that video games increases player’s mental flexibility, as action video games improves one’s ability to switch rapidly between tasks.
Games can motivate you to get physical and exercise
More and more video games are demanding that their players become more physical. AR headsets make it easy for gamers to fully immerse themselves in a game and bring a welcomed element of physicality. In a recent research study from Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction lab, participants who watched avatars of themselves running on a treadmill stated that they felt more confident that they could get in shape and subsequently exercised for a full hour longer than participants who watched their avatar stand idly on screen.
Gaming may reduce pain
A 2010 research study found evidence that playing video games, particularly virtual reality games with immersive 3D landscapes, effectively reduced pain and anxiety caused by medical procedures and chronic illnesses. When you play video games, your attention is completely on the game and your mind is taken off the pain you feel. Endorphins, a pain-killing hormone, are also released while playing video games.
Reduce anxiety and minimise stress
Research conducted at the anaesthesiology department at the New Jersey Medical School, discovered that children who were played hand-held video games before surgery felt almost no anxiety. Similar to the pain relieving effects mentioned above, playing video games helps in reducing anxiety by shifting the player’s mental focus on to the game.
Whether you’re playing your favourite online casino game on your smartphone or having a marathon gaming session with your online squad, when it comes to games, we become totally engrossed. Our brains are fully engaged and we tend to forget about the stress and challenges in our lives. Gaming stimulates the brain, encourages your creative abilities and improves your decision-making skills, all of which help with reducing stress, improving mood and combatting anxiety.
Games provide an opportunity to overcome dyslexia
There is a growing body of research that indicates the beneficial effects that playing video games has on improving children’s ability to overcome dyslexia. One study investigated the beneficial effect that playing as few as 12 hours of video games had on improving dyslexic children’s performance on reading and phonology tests. The findings were significant and were equal or better than traditional training programmes that were designed specifically for dyslexic children.
There you have it. Now, what are you waiting for? Go enjoy all the benefits!