Nov 26th, 2016, 02:51 AM

Video Games Provide Social, Emotional and Physical Benefits

By Nooh Barzani
Image Credit: Sinelnikov Alexey
Gaming reduces stress and improves cognitive brain function

The debate as to whether or not video games are beneficial or harmful has been raging on for over 20 years. Sadly, communities around the world view video games as negative, which is not completely unwarranted. Playing them excessively may lead to problems such as anxiety, backaches and poor grades at school. But anything in excess can be harmful. In actuality, the benefits of video games greatly outweigh the negatives, and for gamers of all ages. People need to start realizing video games can act as an important therapeutic escape from the real world problems, to control aggression and anger and relief daily pressure. 

We have all heard about the consequences of video games, but let’s take a detailed look at what is good about them. I personally play them when I am stressed and angry because they calm me down.Whenever I get angry, regardless of the reason, instead of breaking objects, shouting at whoever I am mad at or breaking someone’s heart, I spew my anger out by playing action games. It is a fantastic pressure-reliever and stress-reducer. It works better than anything for me to relax and it helps me forget about my problem. I then decided to ask some other players and doctors to see if I am the only one and if it is reasonable or not! Many other players expressed the same feelings as me. The doctors agreed, playing video games is a wonderful way of calming yourself down.

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Games can be like an actual psychological therapy. For many gamers, it is like a filter cleaning the bad and negative things in their heads. There are different ways in which people get over their anger, such as shouting, but gamers overcome or at least ease off their levels of aggression and stress by playing video games. When they are angry or mad at something, they play because it calms them down and makes them forget about their aggression for a time. This can be more than enough to cool off first-minute anger and by the time they are done playing, they wont be as angry as before. So, it is like a treatment to have more control over anger and forget about your problems. Let's say you are angry at your brother. Instead of getting in a fight, it is better to take out your frustration in a game rather than escalating the fraternal fight further.

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Video games open a door and create a virtual path to escape from daily problems we go through.  We all, from time to time, try to distract ourselves from pain and problems by paying attention to something else.  Playing games is an escapism and distraction tool to get away from the real world troubles. You could me financially or emotionally broke, you could lose your job or someone you love. Though not a permanent solution, the pain and anger felt in these moments of grief can be healed through video game therapy. When you play these games, you are transported into a virtual, alternate reality, where these problems no longer exist. By playing, your full concentration and thinking is on the game. It is a shift of attention and increase in concentration, a short and effective divorce from your real life strife. 

Additionally, video games also improve your vision and make you a better visual information decoder. They help you improve your ability to rapidly and accurately recognize visual information. For example, you can instantly realize and differentiate between a real and graphically designed photo, whereas a non-gamer may take some time to see the difference between the two. You will be faster in decoding the visual language. A recent study published by Mental Floss shows that playing games can improve your ability to discern between different shades of grey. It is about the adaptation of the eye to the fast/slow movements in a variety of directions. When you are playing them, your eyes are fully focused on the interactivity going on the screen and you catch every single detail; this can/will improve your vision to realize visual information quicker than others and to see what others don’t. People who play games have better vision, attention and cognition.

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Nowadays, all games have the online option, meaning gamers can play against other gamers online regardless of the distance between them. This has opened doors for people to make new social connections.  Many often view them as social-life killers.  They think games make people isolated and alienated from social life.  Yet, games are a new way of socializing, not with in-game bots, but with real people all around the world. They actually help people get over their loneness and make friends, which is a psychological therapy because they provide a solution for loneliness. Through video games, you will be able to make new friends and socialize even more than you could in physical communities. 

Image Credit: Kotaku

An increase in development skills and a stronger memory are some other benefits of video games. People often underestimate gamers as being lazy and useless but what they don’t know about is that gamers have far better development skills than none-gamers. For instance, playing action and war games improve your shooting and aiming skills and give you a stronger memory to remember information. Why is this useful? I was sure you were going to ask this question! Because militaries recruit professional gamers to use their computer-oriented military weapons, as gamers are much better than ordinary people in shooting, aiming and using robots. Special forces around the world use games to train troops and teach them what they need to do on the actual battlefield. Thanks to games, professional players already have this knowledge with a stronger memory and know how to use computers to shoot with a drone for example. Here is what a gamer, now a soldier, once shared with me: “When I entered the army, I knew exactly how to use guns and remotely controlled weapons; I knew how to put in/out a magazine, how to load, how to put on/off safety button and how to aim and shoot, thanks to the my knowledge from war games.Whereas the others had to be taught how to do all those, they were taught even simpler things like weapon names”. 

Image Credit: Under The Radar

Video games teach people languages; they help people learn languages, although it is not the reason why people play them.  Gamers get to learn language while playing; it happens unconsciously as they play. Through constantly playing games, day after day people learn more English or any other language used in the game.  Reading subtitles and the conversations going on in games, an unconscious but enjoyable process, teach players a lot of words, verbs and sentences usually in English, as most famous games are in English; but they always provide you with the option of choosing from a few languages.  When I came to Paris to study my BS degree at the American University, I already knew some English and that was thanks to games, not school! All that helped me pass the entering test and get into the university. 

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