Gamer Lifestyle: Why Gaming Is Good for Down Time
It’s long been the belief that gaming holds no benefits and is an unhealthy activity that promotes laziness and violence, especially in young people. It’s human nature to find something to blame for things that are wrong in the world, and gaming (just like movies and other hobbies) has been a scapegoat for quite some time.
Gaming can incorporate anything you play on a screen, from mobile blackjack to Call of Duty on PlayStation. Studies have been conducted over the past decade to investigate the actual effects of gaming and whether or not they are responsible for various adverse health conditions, or if that’s just speculation.
Surprisingly, and most probably shockingly to the vast majority of parents and the public, these studies have shown that not only is gaming not solely responsible for the various mental and physical health issues we’re seeing today, but there are benefits to be found and experienced from the act of gaming.
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How Gaming Can Be Beneficial
That being said, recent studies have shown that there are some incredible benefits to gaming for both the young and the old. One of the standout results that researchers at the University of Iowa found was that gaming could slow down the ageing process because it requires the use of the mind and thus keeps it sharper as the body grows older. This idea is the same as physical health. To stay physically healthy, you train and exercise your body to keep in shape. Playing games can help do that for your mind. The study showed that gaming essentially added anywhere from one year to seven years of recovery and improvement to one’s life.
Other studies found that not only can gaming keep you mentally younger and add years to your life, but it also has various other benefits that have long been unknown to both the public world and the scientific world. Let’s look at some of these additional benefits.
Gaming Can Enhance Your Ability to Learn
Our brains are malleable, meaning they can be formed and shaped depending on what we absorb and give attention to. This is called neuroplasticity, and it’s no different when gaming. A study by the Queen Mary University of London and the University College London found that playing faster, more action-packed games can lead to an increase in cognitive ability and flexibility. This means that our brains tend to perform better when playing these kinds of games, as they usually require constant thinking and input from players.
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Gaming Can Help Hand-Eye Coordination
Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch experimented with high school kids who played video games and their resident surgeons. They had both groups perform virtual surgery to see who outperformed the other, and to their surprise, the high school students did better than the actual surgeons. While the surgeons would do better on a real body, the experiment was telling regarding the high school kids’ precision and coordination, and this was all because they were regular gamers while the medical residents had no time to play games.
This is great news for parents worried about their children gaming rather than playing a sport all the time because it seems as though gaming vastly improves one’s hand-eye coordination, something of great importance in today’s significant professions like being a surgeon.
Gaming Can Make You Less Anti-Social
One of the most common (and tired) stereotypes of people who play games frequently is that they’re awkward and weird and don’t know how to be a typical person in the real world. Researchers from three different institutions in the UK and Canada recently did their own studies to find out how common and true these kinds of stereotypes are about frequent gamers. Their research found that, contrary to popular belief, gamers who participated in live social environments were actually highly sociable and often forged deeper and stronger relationships with one another as a result of their love for gaming.
This is true for any hobby or profession out there, and it’s most undoubtedly valid for gaming!
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While there are many other examples of the benefits of gaming, the ones listed above can serve as a step in the right direction. Gaming stereotypes are slowly unravelling as scientific evidence comes to the fore. On the other hand, it’s also important to note that anything done in excess will not be beneficial and could be harmful to your health. This means that if you’re going to sit and game for ten hours every day, your body and mind are probably going to reap the negative consequences of that, regardless of the positive benefits of gaming. It’s your responsibility to know when enough is enough and when to take a break from the screen.
The benefits mentioned in this article aren’t justifications to binge on a game for days but rather encouragements to propel your gaming habits and help you utilise the medium in the best and most healthy way possible.