Games have long been thought of as vices, with parents warning their children to stay away from these brain-draining creations. While it is true that gaming addiction can severely impact lives, moderate gaming holds several surprising benefits.
Playing games engages attention and often demands cognitive skills such as attention, memory, processing speed, and multitasking. Hence, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that many gamers develop useful cognitive skills that transfer into real-life scenarios.
Increased Reaction Speeds
The hallmark feature of many games is that they require fast reaction times. If you act too slow, you can fail the current level or see your character get eliminated. As players typically progress in games, they encounter harder challenges that demand more speed. The progressive increase in difficulty stimulates the brain to react faster. “A good video game keeps players engaged. To do this, developers build rewards, hidden features, and side quests into games.” Lin Anderson, LMHC, MA, EdM said.
Many regular players can react faster to stimuli, primarily due to two mechanisms. They may be able to perceive stimuli faster, a skill they honed while playing games that require them to multitask. Additionally, their brains develop in response to demands for faster responses. When neurons get stimulated, they may become myelinated. A substance called myelin coats these cells, allowing them to transmit information faster and more efficiently. The stimulation of gaming can trigger brain cells to become more efficient, similar to how muscles get stronger with each workout.
Have you ever played games where you roamed around a map, looking for quests and treasure? These games can do more than keep you entertained. Players typically need to remember where points of interest are on the game map. They also need to remember the rules of the game to avoid penalties and get more loot. All of these activities train your ability to store and retrieve memories. “Technology conditions the brain to pay attention to information very differently than reading.” Jim Taylor Ph.D. said.
In particular, 3D games that allow you to roam around can strengthen your spatial memory. You get to remember the location of specific objects better, and this skill can translate to the real world. You’ll be less likely to misplace your keys, or you’ll be better at navigating cities.
Stress And Pain Reduction
“Everyone handles positive and negative stress differently. And yes, for some, positive stress can lead to a negative response to stress, depending on the situation.” Jessica Harris, LCPC, LPC said. It can be hard to believe that games can reduce stress. People usually think of violent games and screaming players, images associated with stress.
However, anyone who’s played games before can attest to the positive feelings of gaming. There’s always a sense of satisfaction whenever a player completes an objective or even finishes the game. Games act as rewards, and they can activate the reward circuits in our brains, raising levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. When in moderation, games can be a source of happiness and contentment.
Playing games can also negate physical pain. Aside from triggering positive moods, games serve as distractions. In many cases, they are enough to reduce pain sensations. It’s hard to focus on pain when you’re too engrossed in defeating a powerful boss.
There are other benefits to playing games, such as increased social skills and higher motivation levels. The advantages of gaming prove that games can be a positive part of anyone’s life. Games aren’t monsters, and they are helpful as long as players practice moderation.