CULTURE

Why Gaming Can Make You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

All work and no play can make the best of us dull, let alone Jack. Even then, research suggests that video games are more than just play—find out why.

By DEBASHRUTI BANERJEE

Do you think video games are a recent trend, popularised by the millennial era, that is just entertainment and can lead to laziness and slacking? Think again. Yes, video games are fun (which is good for mental health), but they have proven to impart skills to people that can transfer to many real life situations.

 

In fact, games have been a part of civilisation and growth since forever. The first known board game, dating back to 2400 BCE-5th century CE, is called the Game of Ur. The first video game is considered to have been developed by physicist William Higinbotham in 1958. Nowadays, there are games of innumerable genres, designs, difficulties—and some are so realistic, you may mistake them for movies. The entire study of games, called ludology, is an academic discipline in itself that not only studies video games but also texts that can be traced back to the Classical Ages. Here are five of many reasons why video games are more than "just entertainment".

 

1. Improves your motor skills: It's no wonder that the Zoomer generation is so savvy with digital devices. Whether you play on a gaming console, with a PC or on your phone—video games are great for dexterity. The rapid and pattern-based control have proven to help with hand-eye coordination as well. In fact, a study of 33 laparoscopic surgeons, presented by the American Psychological Association, showed that "those who played video games were 27 per cent faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37 per cent fewer errors compared to those who did not play video games". This is also the reason why games are also used in physiotherapy treatments.

 

2. Works out your brain: Video games are a mental exercise in themselves, they can help you read better, improve your memory and, as a 2020 study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal suggests, cognitive functioning as well. By playing action real-time strategy games, the volunteers who were expert gamers were able to score higher levels of temporal visual selective attention—the brain's ability "in distributing limited cognitive resources between successive visual targets".

 

3. Makes you a better problem solver: Be it a puzzle game of tic-tac-toe or 100 levels of an extremely elaborate platform game—video games are proven to build your decision-making and research skills. Often with a time or health restraint, these head-scratchers also help you work under pressure and solve riddles and problems quicker, which can be applied to real-life as well. One of the most popular examples of this is the use of flight simulators for real-life pilot training.

 

4. Connects you to a community: In the recent but exponentially developing history of video games, the multiplayer mode of gaming has proven to be a powerful tool in bonding and making new friends. In a 2006 study of students, Chris Bailey et al found that "instances of collaborative communication and discussion amongst the students are high, suggesting that they take an active, positive role in the sessions". Kids and adults alike are able to build a semblance of a team and work through games together, fight against adversaries and thereby establish trust and compatibility with their members. Not just that, in the internet world, there's no dearth of social networks for gamers all around the world to connect. This online communication has also been a boon for the pandemic era of COVID-19.

 

5. Provides a space for creativity: As of 2021, the biggest individual Youtuber is a gamer as the field continues to grow in popularity. Video games are no more a time-pass, but an arena of varied and booming careers. From game design, game studies, voice-acting, concept art and animation etc in the actual game developing process to gaming, competing in worldwide championships, streaming on various platforms—gaming has never been a more enriching process. More than financial stability, video games also provide artists with a place to share incredible and fantastical stories and experiences.

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