For most people, the bulk of what they know about gaming concerns its negative aspects. Truly, gaming has a long history of negative stigma, and not without justifiable cause. For instance, the violence found in most video games has been hugely criticized. This is because it is argued that there could be a correlation between the excessive violence displayed in video games and the rising use of violence in the world today. Additionally, there is the issue of addiction. Gamers are wont to get addicted to video games. This in itself is a challenge, but it also culminates in other behavioral handicaps. Thus, an addicted gamer often has antisocial traits. They would typically find it difficult breaking away from the world created by the game to sustain normal human relations. As a result, their relationship with family and friends suffer. In fact, the World Health Organization has recognized that a disorder, known as gaming disorder, could result from excessive indulgence in video games.
However, regardless of how true these postulations are, gaming also has benefits. The prevalence of these harms has clouded the benefits from this much-loved activity. This is traceable to the fact that the more popular video games are those characterized by violence, deafening noise, etc. However, new games are being programmed and available in the market. These games come with attractive features beneficial to a gamer. The upsides to gaming affect every facet of the individual’s life, but no area benefits as much as the mental health of the gamer. In this article, we will discuss the mental health benefits of gaming.
- Stimulation of All the Parts of the Brain
When a person plays video games, multiple parts of their brain gets stimulated. This has several benefits for such a gamer. For instance, it can help people suffering from mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, etc. In this instance, gaming can be almost therapeutic. This is because of the structural changes that occur to a person’s brain when they play any game. Mental health challenges arise with the decrease in brain size of the patient. Gaming does the opposite. It increases the brain volume of the player, helping to prevent the onset of these illnesses.
- Cognitive Skills Development
Gaming typically involves problems that the gamer has to solve. To win, the person has to engage their mental abilities to solve the issues as quickly as possible. The process of solving or getting around such obstacles helps the gamer develop critical cognitive skills.
Similarly, playing video games helps memory and the process of remembering. For most games, you have to get familiar with pick up points, rewards locations, etc. While playing casino games, for instance, you have to memorize a bunch of numbers. You also have to remember the cards already dealt, as all of these will improve your chances of winning the game. All of these will help your mental agility. The spillover effect affects not just your gaming skills but every other aspect of your life. You will be able to memorize and quickly recall pieces of information whenever you need to.
- Stress Management
Games can also be powerful tools for relaxation and stress management. For a lot of folks, winding down on a typical weekend involves rounds of video games. They gather around with friends, immersed in the game, and isolated from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
More so, there are games that are specifically primed to help with stress management. In this category, you find games with little or no violence. Additionally, the overall display and the games’ set-up encourages stress relief. Thus, if you have the intention of using gaming as a tool for de-stressing, you have to scrutinize the game’s content before making a decision. As already pointed out, games that are ideal for relaxation are those devoid of violence.
- Increased Attention Span
It is true that in the world today, a lot of folks suffer from a reduced attention span. People can hardly concentrate on one task for a long time. One area where this is most visible is in academics. Students find it difficult to settle down to study for a long time. This could have effects on academic performance and output. Strangely as it sounds, gaming helps improve attention span.
During gaming, the player learns to notice a lot of things at the same time. They also learn to focus on a single task at a time, avoiding distractions. A video game could be chaotic, with a lot of activities going on in the background. However, the gamer knows that the chances of success are increased if they concentrate on one aspect of the game. Thus, the gamer learns to shut out irrelevant information, focusing on the most important one at that given moment. It is the laser-focus that gamers have that usually translates to addictive behaviors in some instances. When properly channeled, this skill could be a useful tool for the other areas of the gamer’s life.
- Pain Management
The millions of people living with chronic pain can benefit from playing video games. This is because video games can act as a distraction from the pain. Individuals suffering such illnesses are often advised to focus on something else apart from the pain. Hence, while playing games, the person is distracted from the source of their pain.
Additionally, playing games can help produce an analgesic response in the higher cortical systems. The more immersed the person is in the game, the higher the amount of analgesia that will be produced. It is precisely because of this reason that many tech companies are spending millions on developing virtual reality systems. If they are ever successful, they could be quite the game-changer and revitalize the way chronic pain is managed. However, until that time, you (or your loved one) could manage chronic pain by playing video games.
- Eliminating Loneliness
Additionally, gaming can be a means to address loneliness. Gaming typically involves more than one person dueling it out. In fact, there are now options for connecting with players all over the world. This virtual connection brings companionship to the gamer. This is the beauty of esports. Similarly, gamers can collaborate on missions together. They could also get to interact via the message boxes and even get to socialize.
The importance of this process of socialization cannot be underestimated. A critical way that it is important is in how it boosts self-esteem. Socialization, in its different forms, deals with a low view of self and improves optimism generally. For a socially awkward person, this opportunity is like a goldmine. It allows them to interact with people who share similar interests. At the same time, it eliminates the discomfort physical hangouts have for these people. It may not seem like much, but eliminating loneliness is a benefit well worth pursuing. On its own, loneliness may not seem like a big deal. However, for a person suffering mental health challenges or battling suicidal thoughts, loneliness can be a huge deal. Thus, dealing with loneliness might help erase this tipping point.
Without a doubt, gaming can have multiple benefits for your mental health. These benefits range from the development of strong cognitive skills to better memory and retention skills and even improved socializing skills. What is more, these benefits can be channeled to your day-to-day interactions. You would be surprised to find that your relations with others would improve immensely the more you play video games. You must know that the dangers of excessive indulgence in video games are also real. Do not be dismissive about these inherent pitfalls. It is left to you to make the correct use of your gaming experience.