8 research-backed benefits of video gaming you should know about

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Benefits of video gaming | iTMunch

Are video games good or bad for you – that’s the eternal question we have the answer for in this blog. For decades, a larger part of mankind has believed that video gaming has negative effects on the human body and mind. But there are several studies that point out different video gaming benefits. 

This blog talks about 8 benefits of video gaming that are backed by research and science. But before we jump into it, we’ll try to answer a few questions like is video gaming good for you and does video gaming have positive effects?

Do video games REALLY have positive effects?

Contrary to popular belief, yes. Video gaming actually has some amazing positive effects on the human mind and body. Video gaming helps improve memory and vision, and also is a great mood uplifter. Moreover, it helps people suffering from addictions to decrease the intensity of their cravings and desires. 

So, is video gaming good for you?

Video gaming is good for you because it helps you engage with different aspects of our daily lives. Video gaming benefits are not just physical but psychological as well as social. Not many people understand that good video games promote living a healthy life and increasing social activity via multiple avenues.

Here are 8 benefits of playing video games you should be aware about

1. Better problem solving skills is a big video gaming benefit

Certain video games are mission-based, multi-level games in which gamers have to solve complex problems. There are times when the consequences are based on the actions you take in the game. This in turn makes gamers better problem solvers over time.

An American Psychological Association study found that kids who played strategy-centric video games displayed better problem solving skills (and also scored better grades the following year at school). 

2. Playing video games improves manual dexterity

Another video gaming benefit in gamers is improved manual dexterity. Manual dexterity is basically a human’s ability of using their hands in a coordinated and skillful manner to hold and manipulate objects and perform small, accurate movements. 

Video games that need to be played using controllers have proven to be good for hand coordination. Another ASA study that involved a group of surgeons found that people who played video games performed advanced medical procedures 37% faster [2]. Moreover, they also made fewer mistakes in those procedures as compared to the surgeons who didn’t play video games.

3. Improved memory is another video gaming benefit

Video gaming benefits | iTMunch

This benefit is of playing 3D video games. A study was conducted by the University of California published in The Journal of Neuroscience involving 69 participants [3]. The researchers of this study asked a third of these 69 participants to play Angry Birds for 2 weeks, a third to play Super Mario 3D for 2 weeks and the remaining one third to play nothing.

The result? Researchers found that the participants who played 3D Super Mario ended up performing better on follow-up memory tasks. The participants who were asked to play nothing and Angry Birds basically showed no changes or improvement before and after the experiment. The research concluded that players who specifically play complex 3D video games have better memory.

4. Gaming help in boosting mood 

Another video gaming benefit is its link with uplifting mood, improving mental health and supporting well being. Another study has shown that playing even some amount of video games helps in boosting one’s mood and is helpful in relieving stress [4].

A research conducted by New Zealand’s University of Auckland published in BMJ involving 168 teenagers (average age 15) [5]. This study was aimed at finding if playing video games (like SPARX) can be a better alternative to traditional counselling for treating depression. Researchers found that “SPARX is a potential alternative to usual care for adolescents presenting with depressive symptoms in primary care settings and could be used to address some of the unmet demand for treatment.”

5. Playing video games might also improve vision

All our lives, we’ve been hearing our parents say “Don’t stare at the screen for so long!” And for good reason (you know, because of the radiation emitted by screens). The radiations emitted are said to deteriorate vision. But what if we told you that this isn’t the case with playing video games? 

A study involving 10 male participants (who were not gamers) played first-person action games after 30 hours training against other 10 non-gamers [6]. It was found that the first 10 non-gamers were able to see objects more clearly in messy, cluttered spaces and this was because of improved spatial resolution. Meaning, their eyesight improved by the end of the study.

6. Video gaming also increases the brain’s grey matter

Yes, you read that right. Playing video games increased grey matter in some areas of the brain. A study by the Max Planck Institute researchers published in Molecular Psychiatry found that playing the game Super Mario 64 results in an increase in the size of some regions in the brain .[7]

The participants of the study they conducted were asked to play the video game for 30 minutes every day for 2 months. After 2 months, the MRI test of the participants showed an increase in grey matter in the right prefrontal cortex, the right hippocampus and the cerebellum. The regions are associated with memory foundation, spatial orientation, fine motor skills and strategic planning.

7. It also helps gamers have better social skills

This is one of the video gaming benefits that might take you by surprise. Usually, video gamers are considered socially awkward individuals. But that’s far from the truth. Researchers from 3 institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom conducted their own studies to find if anti-social behaviour is common in gamers [8].

What they found was quite interesting. They found that gamers that took part in live social environments, are friendly as well as communicative.

8. Playing video games can actually make you smarter

A study published in PLoS ONE found that cognition can be enhanced in humans by playing video games [9]. In the study, 5 groups consisting of non-gamers were taken and were asked to play mobile games for 1 hour every day for 4 weeks. The study found that all the games, action and non-action games, resulted in enhanced cognitive function.

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Sources

[1] Isabela Granic, Adam Lobel, and Rutger C. M. E. Engels Radboud University Nijmegen (2013) American Psychological Association “The Benefits of Playing Video Games” [Online] Available from: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf [Accessed October 2021]

[2] American Psychological Association (2008) “Playing Video Games Offers Learning Across Life Span, Say Studies” [Online] Available from: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2008/08/video-games [Accessed October 2021]

[3] Gregory D. Clemenson and Craig E.L. Stark (2015) NCBI “Virtual Environmental Enrichment through Video Games Improves Hippocampal-Associated Memory” [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4682779/ [Accessed October 2021]

[4] Christian M. Jones, Laura Scholes, Daniel Johnson, Mary Katsikitis and Michelle C. Carras (2014) “Gaming well: links between videogames and flourishing mental health” [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978245/ [Accessed October 2021]

[5] The BMJ (2012) “The effectiveness of SPARX, a computerised self help intervention for adolescents seeking help for depression: randomised controlled non-inferiority trial’ [Online] Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2598 [Accessed October 2021]

[6] Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R. et al. Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Mol Psychiatry 19, 265–271 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2013.120

[7] Nicholas Taylor, Jennifer Jenson, Suzanne de Castell & Barry Dilouya (2014) Wiley Online Library “Public Displays of Play: Studying Online Games in Physical Settings” [Online] Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcc4.12054 [Accessed October 2021]

[8] Oei AC, Patterson MD. Enhancing cognition with video games: a multiple game training study. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58546. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058546

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Riddhi Jain is a technology content writer. She is based in India and has been working as a content writer since 2018. Riddhi has been writing content in the tech domain since May 2020 and can’t get enough of it. Riddhi has pursued most of her education from her hometown, Indore. She has graduated as a Bachelor of Business Administration and discovered her love for writing blogs while pursuing an internship during college. Once she discovered her love for writing, she went on to improve this skill set (and hasn’t stopped since). Riddhi’s writing relationship with iTMunch began in May 2020. This is where she developed a knack for writing content for the technology domain. She's an expert in tech content writing who has written over 700 blogs for iTMunch in just a year. Riddhi loves diving deep into tech sub-domains like financial technology, marketing technology, HR technology, Artificial Intelligence and gaming technology. She loves staying updated with the latest and upcoming trends in digital marketing, digital payments, fintech, gaming, web design and app development. She cherishes writing about futuristic technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency, NFTs, Internet of Things, Facial Recognition, Machine Learning, Edge Computing, etc. Riddhi also likes to keep an eye on what’s going on with the tech titans like Google, Facebook and Apple. One of her major interests is in staying updated with the latest IT startups and the groundbreaking technologies they’re coming up with. When Riddhi is not writing content, she is binging on documentaries on Netflix (check out ‘The Great Hack’, ‘Seaspiracy’, and ‘What the Health’). She also likes reading books once in a while (Yuval Noah Harari and Michelle Magorian are some of her favorite authors). Riddhi also likes listening to podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show (do listen to the ones with guest Naval Ravikant) and The Joe Rogan Experience.