Anyone who loves games will likely have come across plenty of gaming skeptics, who will be only too happy to tell you that playing games are a waste of time. Many believe that your time in front of your favorite game doesn’t achieve anything and can even cause addiction and damage your eyesight and other senses. Plenty of parents will do all they can to steer their kids away from gaming, but perhaps their cautions are misguided. Belief is growing that gaming shouldn’t be considered a “guilty pleasure” at all. We’ve put together a list of skills that you can get from playing games, great for children and adults alike.
Of course, different games develop different skills. You probably aren’t going to improve your budgeting skills by playing Mario Kart, but plenty of titles come with a lot of benefits to your skillset.
A University of Rochester study has shown that reaction times can be significantly improved by playing fast-paced action games. They tested players of the Sims vs Call of Duty 2. The tests found that those who had been playing COD, a game requiring fast decisions and reactions, were better at everything from multitasking to navigating a map. Think of your reactions as a sort of ‘muscle’ that you can train by putting it through mental tasks, a game which requires quick action will help you to translate these skills into real life settings. Some studies have even shown that surgeons who regularly play video games become less error prone than those who don’t.
Whilst studies into this area are relatively new, it is generally pretty widely accepted that gaming can help your reactions and decision making. With the growth of VR, the effects are only likely to increase.
The words ‘Social’ and ‘Gaming’ used to only go together in LAN parties. Now, the two go hand in hand, with all sorts of opportunities for gaming capture as well as sharing and streaming your gameplay, playing games with friends over the internet and even playing face to face with a group of friends.
Whether you’re working out a game with a close friend or playing head to head with a total stranger, your repertoire of social interactions can be greatly enhanced by playing video games.
A real trend in gaming involves building things and even sourcing the materials to do so. Games like Minecraft, The Sims and SimCity all spring to mind. An understanding of how things are made is certainly useful for children, and if you can educate them by stealth then so much the better.
Building requires careful planning and attention to detail, and some schools have even added games which encourage building and resource management into their curriculum.
It is generally accepted that being creative is good for our brains in all sorts of ways and can vastly improve not only our skills but our mood. 20 years ago games had nothing like the opportunities we have in the modern world of gaming to be expressive and creative. In turn, this can lead to a better understanding of creative problem solving, risk and reward and just give us the chance to make great things.
Researchers at the university of California found in one study that gaming (specifically within 3D games) can help to improve your memory. Subjects who played 3D games for 30 minutes a day over two weeks were shown to have an improved memory when compared to those playing 2D games. Those conducting the studies have suggested that the spatial awareness and immersion of a 3D game have helped to stimulate the hippocampus, the brain’s center of memory (among other things).
Staying engaged with games could even help to slow the process of cognitive aging.
The gaming industry changes quickly. Very quickly. As such, the research into its benefits is still coming together, but it seems that the more we learn about gaming, the more positives we see. Gaming is one of the world’s biggest industries and can be great not just for fun and switching off, but can also have huge benefits for our brain’s abilities and mood.
About the Author:
Ben is a gamer and technology blogger from the UK who writes about gaming capture and streaming at his site captureway.com