It’s not just violence: From the most basic title of Atari to the most complex of PlayStation 3, video games can also help improve skills, as well as entertain.
Years ago, popular belief placed video games as one of the new technological addictions. The reasons? A curious stereotype based on a gamer of kilos, sexually inactive, socially maladjusted and with their mental capacities atrophied, adding to this a few episodes of violence where this activity was blamed for influencing the user’s behavior negatively.
And although this image has been declining over the years, in several countries the situation has been the subject of debate at the governmental level, establishing standards, filters, and regulations such as the law of violent content labeling in video games that is currently in the Chamber of Deputies.
However, there are countless studies of various universities and prestigious organizations around the world that demonstrate how the benefits of this activity far exceed the negative perception, although always with moderation and criteria.
What primary benefits do most videogames have in common? This help solve problems, using puzzles and riddles, applying logic. Thus, the brain works by processing large amounts of information by actively participating, rather than absorbing content from a TV show or movie. Depending on their complexity, they also teach to improve strategy skills, since the objective is usually one and the player must focus on the different situations to be faced, choosing the most advantageous considering their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, positive reinforcement increases, because of games reward effort and reason in complex situations such as the previous point, obtaining skills or prizes, learning from trial and error to achieve their goal.
Video games increase pre-school motor skills
Researchers at the University of Deakin in Melbourne have no problem in that their children under five years spend hours in front of a TV with their favorite video game. Thanks to a study that analyzed the evolution of 53 preschool children, discovering that they participated in activities that involved the interaction some game had better results in excellent motor tests than those who did not. The problem lies in knowing if those who have naturally developed skills tend to be admirers of this type of activity.
Video games increase sociability
The image of the solitary gamer, even if it exists, is not everything. It is possible to work as a team, foster relationships with family and friends thanks to cooperative and online game options, developing the ability to solve problems together in both children and adults, as well as helping those who have difficulties in interacting with the others, being a less stressful form of social interaction.
Video games help patients with strokes, Parkinson’s and chronic diseases
In 2010 and 2012, the universities of Toronto and Utah analyzed the effects of sports on improving balance and hand-eye coordination of stroke victims, Parkinson’s and children with chronic diseases, although in this case, we are talking about a specially developed title for motion sensors such as Kinect, PS Move and Wii Mote. In this way, the games activate “the system of reward and positive emotions” at the neuronal level in patients, helping to improve their behavior and the difficult challenge that their disease implies. It also states that surgeons who practice regularly have a better pulse and more precision than their non-player colleagues.
Video games help make decisions faster
Action titles help the player to make decisions more quickly, developing in the long term a better perception of what is happening around him, thanks to the fact that Brain effectively calculates the possibilities in an option and evaluates which is the best way to go. This translates into everyday activities such as moving around in a crowded city, driving, reading, or finding someone in a crowd.
Video games relieve pain, depression and aggressive behavior
Did you end up with your cock and you submerge your grief by killing zombies in your favorite video game? The relief can not only be emotional but physical. This was discovered in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington, who is 2012 helped hospitalized patients through distraction, using the title of virtual reality “Snow World,” in which the player was immersed in a world with penguins and snowmen. It sounds unattractive, but in the results, soldiers with war injuries who participated as volunteers required fewer medications to recover. A similar situation is in the American Pain Society, who since 2010 have already experimented with these methods in children and adults, reducing anxiety levels between 30 and 50 percent. The other alternative is from the University of Keele in the United Kingdom, where they showed that games increase pain resistance. How? After playing violent titles and golf for 10 minutes, they dipped their hands in ice water, discovering that in these cases the strength was more than 65%. The explanation: the heart rate and adrenaline. The same happened in 2009, with a study in which mental health problems such as depression and stress were successfully treated with video games since, in this way, patients could channel their frustrations and aggressive behavior.
Video games help improve vision
Maybe playing near the TV is not so bad after all. In 2007 and 2009, studies at the University of Rochester in New York showed that 30 hours of the first-person shooter or FPS games (like Call of Duty or Halo) could be useful to improve small things or close together in a real space, and perceive contrasts of colors, in the case of stock titles. But it is not everything. In 2012, Dr. Daphne Maurer of the Visual Development Laboratory of McMaster University of Ontario he said that people with cataract problems could improve that condition thanks to action games, FPS or anyone who shows “accelerated” images, due to the attention required for it. In the studies, after 10 hours of play, the improvements were evident, although, after 40 hours, the patients were already able to read several lines of a book. Also, this would be beneficial for the brain, due to the high levels of adrenaline and dopamine generated Video games make your old age happier.
Is there a relationship between the mental well-being of older adults and video games? Apparently yes, according to a study of the North Carolina State University that determined that it is not necessary to be a permanent player to reach “levels of happiness or well-being.” Likewise, the research also revealed that those who did not have any approach to this activity were more prone to negative emotions and depression.