You have probably been asked once or twice in your life about the activities you consider good, even healthy, for you. And like most, you likely listed jogging and working out, eating healthily, or even relaxing in nature, whether that is alone or with family and friends.
The one thing you hadn’t remotely considered, however, was that sitting in front of a screen playing video games could actually be good for you. In fact, chances are that you have mostly looked at video games with suspicion. You are not alone.
Lots of people associate gaming with sedentary, anti-social, and technologically dependent lives, while others worry about it prematurely aging their eyes or even affecting attention spans. But now, you must be curious how it is that a “harmful” activity has inspired a market for pro gamers across Africa despite your long-held assumptions.
It is true that excessive video gaming may prove unhealthy for various reasons, especially if it is the only activity you enjoy doing in your free time. Done in moderation, however, video games can actually be healthy and helpful, as these surprising reasons why gaming can be good for you illustrate:
Improve Your Vision
Growing up, you were probably warned you would go blind staring at a screen all day. While this claim is not based on science, gamers can, in fact, develop a habit of blinking a lot less frequently while playing which tends to cause eye strain and dry eye syndrome.
On the flip side, however, gaming in moderation helps stimulate the eyes’ contrast sensitivity function which improves sensitivity to contrast and spatial resolution – essentially allowing your eyes to become more sensitive to colour and depth. Studies have also shown that gaming can help one train their brain to see smaller details too as these are often crucial in the context of video games.
Slow Down Your Aging Process
There is something to be said for physical exercise, and it is that it can help one feel younger and in shape. In the same way, playing “brain games” which have memory, problem-solving, and puzzle components has been shown to increase the cognitive functioning in players 50 years and older.
In addition to being a workout for your brain that is disguised as fun, research shows that regularly playing video games can increase the brain’s grey matter and boost brain connectivity. Grey matter is critical for our motor control, coordination, and precision, as well as attention, memory, and thought.
Make You Less Anti-Social
Perhaps one of the most prevalent stereotypes associated with gaming is that gamers are awkward social rejects. Nonetheless, the stigma that gamers occasionally endure – that they are too insulated, is untrue. As a matter of fact, gamers who engage in live social environments and even multiplayer online role-playing games are the most friendly and communicative people out there.
Researchers who observed thousands of gamers in their element in the UK and Canada reported that online gaming supplemented social interactions in both online and offline worlds. Turns out that loners are actually the outliers and not the norm when it comes to playing video games!
Improve Your Focus and Attention
Video games were once thought to be a cause of attention difficulties in children and adults. But studies have shown that when played in moderation, games are a great help in keeping busy and overactive minds and bodies focused on a task, particularly because they provide a constant stream of stimulation that blocks out other distractions.
As they improve focus and attention, games also teach persistence and problem-solving because you either win or learn from your mistakes as you progress towards the game’s goal. What’s more, the more you hone your skills in gaming, the more likely you are to establish a great career in eSports. And it doesn’t have to be as a professional gamer alone – it could be in coding, marketing, or running gaming events!