What do you think of when you hear the phrase “video games?” Unhealthy, overweight man-boys addicted to living in an imaginary world, in which they shoot off the faces of their opponents?  Okay, this is the case some of the time, but really, video games are so much more. I have found out that there are many surprising benefits to playing video games, so I am slightly less embarrassed to admit that I play them myself.

1. Video games can teach and/or enforce teamwork.

A variety of video games have been created that involve a team of people (whether in your living room or in a different state) working together toward a common goal.

2. Video games may be able to improve vision.

Did your mother ever tell you to not to stare at your computer screen for too long? Okay, she was correct in that your eyes need a break every now and again, but a study was conducted by a psychologist that may have proof that detailed video games involving aiming and shooting at objects improve declining vision.

3. Your surgeon may perform better if he/she plays video games regularly.

Have you ever watched the sitcom Scrubs? The main character and his friend, a surgeon, often partake in seemingly adolescent activities, one of them being video games. It turns out that this fictitious surgeon was likely more skilled at laparoscopic surgery due to the increased hand-eye coordination from these electronic games.

4. Video games teach you multi-tasking.

In The Sims game, you might be controlling many different characters at once. You need to figure out how to coordinate their actions to achieve the best results in the game. This ability can transfer to tasks like driving a car and dealing with distractions inside of the car as well as keeping track of the cars around you.

5. Video games can benefit those dealing with stress or depression.

Video games give you the ability to get lost in a world you can control without true problems or consequences. An article in the New York Times highlighted a woman dealing with depression with the game Bejeweled. This does not go for all video games, but certain games can even give you a Zen-like feel where you can play without real effort or boredom.

6. Video games can help those dealing with severe pain.

Studies have showed that patients who were allowed to play video games requested less pain killer. The thought is that the patients were so engrossed in the game that their pain seemed miles away. As a result, there is a lower chance of addiction to powerful pain medications.

7. Video games are not all violent (and/or drive you to violent tendencies).

Are you completely shocked? Before writing this post, I was a tad ashamed to admit I have spent hours upon hours playing The Sims games and more recently Sims 2 (no, I have not splurged for Sims 3 for fear of never leaving my laptop again). This game is anything but violent. The entire premise is living life. You can get a job, build a house, have numerous babies and raise a whole family of dogs if you wish. You can go to college, meet your true love and graduate with honors. Okay, yes, that sounds a little sad to be doing all of this in a video game, but stay with me and check out some of the benefits of playing video games.

8. Not all video games require you to sit still and stare at a screen for hours on end.

Many video games have physical aspects (and rightfully so). You can pretend you are playing anything from bowling to boxing to participating in a dance competition. There are even games specifically engineered to improve physical fitness.

9. Many video games have been created for children.

I was completely taken aback when I witnessed a three year old playing a game on her mom’s ipad. Younger children are learning to play with electronic devices, so a variety of educational video games have been created to enrich the young mind. It is even thought that video games are an interactive venue that will soon replace textbooks…however crazy that sounds.

10. The last one: I heard on the radio there are video games designed for cats.

I, however, choose to be in denial that cats can use electronics.

Video games not only provide endless entertainment, but there are surprising benefits. If you have not already, consider picking up a game to boost your mental (and possibly physical) capabilities.

Find out more games that chill you out: 10 Relaxing Online Games to Help Chill You Out

Featured photo credit: Young couple playing video games in their apartment via Shutterstock

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