9 Realistic Health Benefits of Gaming Backed by Science

Last Updated on August 4, 2018 by Michael Brockbank

Are there real-world benefits of gaming? The short answer is, “yes.” And I’m not just talking about being a stress reliever. In fact, there is quite a bit of science behind how video games can benefit humanity – as long as they’re played in moderation.

Then again, there are a lot of things that are beneficial in moderation. It’s up to the mental state of an individual to prevent an addiction. But I’ll go over that in an article in the future.

And I know that for every scientific fact I show for gaming benefits, there is one that shows the disadvantages. My point in this piece is to show that not all gaming can be considered a negative experience.
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9 Benefits of Gaming

I’m old enough to remember when video games started growing into the monster they are today. Back then, the argument was how they will rot your brain and turn you into a vegetable.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. In reality, many games opened my mind to be far more imaginative in the real world.

But let’s take a look at some of the science-based evidence of the benefits of gaming.

1. Treating Depression and Anxiety

I’ll start with the benefits of gaming to include treatment of depression and anxiety. This is because I personally know a few people who were prescribed games as a form of dealing with these mental disorders by therapists.

According to studies, it’s found that certain role playing games and interactive educational pieces improved clinical depression, especially in young adults. This includes dealing with various phobias which inspire depressive disorders. [note]NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4118698/[/note]

2. Improves Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-to-eye coordination is used on a regular basis whether you’re playing video games or not. Any time you reach for something in the cupboard, put on makeup or even drive to the grocery store, associating hand actions with what you see is vastly important.

According to a couple of studies, action-based video game play enhances hand-eye coordination. Of course this isn’t all that new of a discovery. In fact, I remember psychologists making this point back in the 1990s. [note]Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ulterior-motives/201608/video-game-play-benefits-coordination[/note]

3. Enhancing Vision Acuity

Action games don’t just improve hand-eye coordination. In some situations, they can also increase visual reception in the brain. And this is outside the scope of graphically enhanced games.

In 2009, a study was conducted on the impact of visual input on the brain from certain types of video games. The results of studies conducted by Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester demonstrates how vision is improved. [note]University of Rochester – http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3342[/note]

4. Improving Various Areas of the Brain

Although the research for brain-related changes from video games is quite new, there are a few points to embrace. While I know people today are focusing more on the addictive nature, there is still quite a few benefits of gaming you need to consider.

For instance, the area of the brain that affects visuospatial skills is more developed in gamers. It’s also found that those who play video games are often more focused in long-term tasks. [note]Science Daily – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622103824.htm[/note]

5. Gaming as a Pain Reliever?

According to some studies, gaming activates certain pleasure centers of the brain. Which is why many people believe they can become addicting. After all, who wouldn’t want to feel “good” constantly just by sitting at their computer or gaming console all day? [note]Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0[/note]

Depending on the individual, gaming releases endorphins. This is the same hormone responsible for things like “runner’s high.” It’s the body’s natural pain killer which fills one with a euphoric sensation.

And this is why many believe video games can be just as profound of an addiction as opioids.

However, video games have potential to relieve various pains throughout the body because of the hormone. Not all painkillers are bad, if taken in moderation.
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6. Boosts Brain Processing Power

Action video games are found to benefit the reaction time of players in various off-line tasks. Because the brain has to react quicker to accomplish a goal in a video game, essentially it trains how to adapt quickly to input. [note]NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2871325/[/note]

This means action games have potential to improve decision making abilities as well as a heightened ability for troubleshooting skills. In fact, certain activities are completed quicker while experiencing fewer errors by those who actively play action-based games.

7. Assists in Handling Cravings

Cravings happen whether it’s food, drugs or cigarettes. Luckily, it’s found that playing games like Tetris has potential to significantly curb these cravings. [note]University of Plymouth – https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/new-study-reveals-tetris-can-block-cravings[/note]

The belief is that it’s difficult to imagine a craving vividly while putting together a puzzle game. Essentially, you’re giving the brain something else to analyze rather than the craving itself.

Personally, I can attest to these benefits of gaming. I found that I snack less at night and had fewer cravings for cigarettes back when I was quitting while playing games like Marvel Puzzle Quest.

8. Improving Brain Connections in MS Patients

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects brain function. It often leads to poor muscle coordination, speech and blurred vision. It’s a rare disease that affects less than 200,000 people per year in the US.

However, studies show how video games involving some form of brain training improves some of the cognitive abilities of MS sufferers. While gaming may not cure MS, it does have potential to help people reclaim various cognitive abilities. [note]Radiological Society of North America – https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/14_pr_target.cfm?ID=1879[/note]

9. Overall Engagement of Education

Video games are more than just a platform to blow something up or kill the bad guy. Many of my favorites have significant historical reference, which can engage young minds.

For example, games like Iron Storm for the Sega Saturn just fueled my fascination with learning more about World War II.

My point is that the right video game can offer education as well as entertainment through player actions. Simulation games often present a lot of this factor, and are among some of my favorites as well.

Keeping the Mind Engaged

Although a lot of scientific study behind the benefits of gaming still needs work, the preliminary results are encouraging. Most benefits evolve around the mental state of an individual. However, this has potential to lead to physical changes outside of brain matter.

For instance, I am more engaged when exercising by playing the Xbox Kinect than a mundane workout routine.

The bottom line is how benefits of gaming are real and lead to real-life improvements outside of the digital realm. It’s not something that “rots your brain.” On the contrary, some parts of the brain actual grow thanks to gaming engagement.[template id=”543″]

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.