There is a long-standing and completely erroneous image of video games as time-wasters that hurt players. The media has sparked part of this belief by attempting to tie violence and other social ills to an interest in gaming. However, there is no solid evidence to back up this misconception. Instead, there are actually many ways that playing video games can actually improve your life.
1. They Can Inspire Your Career
Some of the most talented gamers go on to design video games or play them professionally. Both of these can be lucrative career choices that enable people to make a living by doing something they love while bringing joy to others. There are also many games that can spark an interest in a new industry or even be used as an educational tool. For example, using Minecraft to teach architecture is a good way to get students to think outside the box and enhance their collaboration skills.
2. They Actually Reduce Crime Levels
For years, reactionary individuals have called for an end to video games, especially those that contain imagery of violence and law-breaking activities. They were probably shocked when researchers announced that there’s actually a connection between playing video games and a reduction in crime. A team from the University of Texas discovered that every 10 percent increase in the sales of violent video games was followed by a 1 percent decrease in crime. These results weren’t just found in just one area, either, and they have been confirmed by a different study too.
3. They Reduce Violent Behavior
A reduction in crime in general, is great, but what about violence? After all, that’s the main issue that people bring up in relation to video games. The good news is that research has proven yet again that video games do not increase violent behavior or violent crimes. On the contrary, every single time a hugely popular violent video game is released, the rate of homicide declines. There are many theories about this effect, but what really matters is that video games have been proven to lead to fewer crimes and violence.
4. They Can Make You Less Stressed
Video games, particularly of the violent variety, can actually give you better coping skills for stressful situations. According to a study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M International University, individuals who play violent video games handle bouts of long-term stress better than their non-game playing peers. Additionally, the gamers in this study became less hostile after being given a stressful task to complete. This led the research team to conclude that playing violent video games provides a boost for mood management.
5. They Can Help You Socialize
Introverts have an especially difficult time socializing, and people with certain medical conditions such as autism are also less likely to feel comfortable spending an extended amount of time in public. Games such as ‘Pokémon Go’ are helping these individuals break through their social barriers, though, which showcases the positive benefits of getting involved in this type of activity. Gamers who prefer to stick to a home console often enter multiplayer environments with other players, and this offers another opportunity to socialize in a comfortable setting.
6. They Make it Easier to Get in Shape
‘Pokémon Go’ has been highlighting the exercise potential of video games, including the story of a player who walked 95 miles and lost 10 pounds during a two-week time frame. There are also several video games that were created with the express purpose of helping people get in shape, including Wii Active, along with a long list of dancing titles that reward players for spending a large amount of time perfecting difficult and fast-paced dance moves.
7. They Can Boost Your Cognitive Function
If anyone has ever told you that playing video games will make you less intelligent or is a sign of mental laziness, you can now educate them about the facts. The American Psychological Association has indicated that video games of all types can strengthen a long list of cognitive skills, including memory, reasoning, spatial reasoning and perception. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this particular study is that they also discovered that playing violent shooter games offers the most cognitive benefits.
8. They Ward off Anxiety
Another major revelation from the American Psychological Association is that playing simplistic games such as “Angry Birds” makes people feel less anxious. These individuals also tend to be more relaxed and experience a mood improvement while playing one of these games, and these benefits can extend into the rest of their day. In other words, the next time you’re feeling really anxious about something, try pulling out your smartphone and playing a level or two on one of your favorite games.
9. They Lead to Faster Decision Making
Video game environments typically provide players with almost constant choices to make, and this requires the ability to make fast decisions. As a result, gamers often develop a 25 percent increase in their ability to respond to questions and offer details about something they have just witnessed. Therefore, if you often have issues with making quick decisions, you may want to add video games to your regular routine.
10. They Can Make Your Vision Better
Some parents discourage their kids from playing video games because they believe it will damage their eyes. The Visual Development Lab of Ontario’s research indicates that this quite simply isn’t factual. Instead, people who play video games, especially first-person shooters, can experience improvements in their vision. This was especially noticeable with cataract patients who were able to begin seeing things more sharply as a result of playing video games.
Now that science has proven that video games can help you with everything from stress to your vision, it’s time to start playing them without feeling guilty. If you are big gaming enthusiast, you may even want to consider the top eight careers in this field.
Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com