We love video games for their fun and entertaining nature, but even when we put the controllers down, video games or at least thinking like a gamer can positively influence the rest of our lives. Here are ten ways video games do us good.
10. Learn Personal Accountability
The best video games are challenging. Pushing through those challenges can teach us perseverance as well as personal accountability—learning how to focus on our own actions and what we can control to improve the situations around us. It might not be an obvious lesson from video games, and it requires introspection on our part, but lessons like these carry over from gaming to real life.
9. Learn How to Deal with People in Real Life
Online games offer plenty of opportunities to interact with other players. Each of those experiences can teach a few things about how to deal with others in real life—you can work well with just about anyone, perhaps, if you have the same goal (whether finishing a dungeon or working on a presentation) and how clear upfront communication is essential because others can’t read our minds.
8. Exercise Your Brain and Improve Problem-Solving Skills
The jury’s still out on whether playing video games can make us smarter, but researchers have found that parts of the brain (related to memory, muscle control, strategic planning, and spatial navigation) can get bigger as a result of playing. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean we get smarter as a result, but the findings suggest video gaming can be used to treat some brain disorders. Even if video games don’t improve our IQ or cognitive ability, they can teach us new skills and help us practice them. Some games are designed with problem solving, critical thinking, and reading comprehension challenges. And, of course, there are educational apps and games for kids of all ages.
7. Relax and Relieve Anxiety and Stress
For many people, playing video games is much-needed downtime. The psychological benefits of playing video games can carry over into real life when they relieve stress and anxiety. Some studies have shown immersive games can even treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, this depends on us not playing rage-inducing games.
6. Meet New People
Some games take the social aspect of gaming to a new level. Ingress, for example, is a real-world game that helped our own Alan Henry explore new places and get out in the real world to meet new people. Even if you don’t play one of those augmented reality games, you can make friends in real life through this common interest, whether you go to a gaming convention or just join an online community of players. (Seriously, making friends is hard work, but video games can make it more fun.)
5. Get Better at Multi-Tasking
One thing probably all video gamers learn is the sadness of finishing a game you enjoy or calling it quits on one that is no longer giving you that joy. Whether it’s World of Warcraft or Flappy Bird, games force us to face frustrations about starting over or walking away. These are the same emotions we have to face sometimes in real life—and video games could be good practice for knowing when to quit in general.
You know how after playing Tetris for a while all you see are shapes in the real world that could fit together? The “Tetris Effect” teaches us that when we do things over and over, they take less brain power to do over time and our brains try to continue to make these connections. We can teach ourselves to overcome our negativity bias with the Positive Tetris Effect: practicing looking for positive patterns in our lives. Playing Tetris might even help wipe out bad memories and stop food cravings!