The Benefits of Playing Video Games
Sun, April 18, 2021

The Benefits of Playing Video Games

Several studies have established that excessive playing of video games can cause health problems and other behavioral issues. / Photo by: Anton27 via Shutterstock

 

Video games have become more complex, challenging, and ambitious ever since they began as simple arcade titles in the 1970s. They have become so popular that video gaming is now a hundred-billion-dollar industry. As with all things on this planet, playing video games has its pros and cons. Several studies have, in fact, established that excessive playing of video games can cause health problems and other behavioral issues. But in honor of National Video Game Day on November 15, here are several instances when video games proved to be beneficial too. 

Hones Skills of Surgeons

In an article published by Mental Floss, an online magazine and its related American digital, print, and e-commerce media company focused on millennials, it was said that surgeons must be laparoscopic (small incision) specialists to achieve a successful surgery. In one study, it was found out that those laparoscopic specialists who played video games for more than three hours per week made 32% fewer errors during practice procedures compared to their non-gaming peers. 

A vintage video game called Super Monkey Ball is reported to help surgeons sharpen their skills as it puts players’ fine motor skills, visual acuity, and agility to the test, according to Health Leaders Media, a division of multi-platform media company Simplify Compliance that is dedicated to meeting the business information needs of healthcare executives and professionals. In the game, the players need to navigate a monkey within a ball through mazes and around obstacles to make it to the finish line. 

The game was released in 2001 for the Nintendo GameCube. It required players to have precise movements and keen reflexes.

James “Butch” Rosser, MD, FACS, a surgeon at Florida Hospital Celebration Health, who specializes in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, also said that surgeons who warm up by playing video games are more efficient and they also make fewer mistakes. 

Relieves Stress

Video game players agree that playing games are helpful in relieving the stress that they are feeling. Life Hack, a website that provides helpful tips and guides, mentioned in their article that when a player wins a game, it can improve their mood levels significantly. Even completing the game successfully can help in relieving a bad mood that a person might be feeling. 

Contrary to common belief, playing a violent game actually decreases feelings of aggression, stated Verywell Mind, an online portal that provides articles about mental health articles. 

Players who either played competitive or cooperative games also display different levels of stress after playing the game. Both groups, however, retain positive feelings toward their teammates, and there is a slightly higher reward for those who are cooperative. 

 

Life Hack mentioned in their article that when a player wins a game, it can improve their mood levels significantly. / Photo by: SG SHOT via Shutterstock

 

Exercises the Brain

A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charite University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus in Berlin, Germany found that playing video games increases grey matter, which helps in refining learned and hardwired skills. ID Tech, a summer tech camp, explained that video games directly affect the specific regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, spatial orientation, information organization, and fine motor skills.

In order to identify which part of the brain is directly affected, scientists selected two groups of adults. The first group was made to play Super Mario 64, while the second group didn’t play any video game at all. 

Scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in order to measure the size of the brains of the participants before they started the study and then again after a two-month period. The results revealed that there were differences in the brain structure of the video gamers compared to the non-video gamers, and there was a “direct link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase.

“While previous studies have shown differences in the brain structure of video gamers, the present study proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games,” said Simone Kuhn, the senior scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, who also led the study. 

Additionally, the research also claimed that similar to exercise, playing video games for at least 30 minutes a day can improve one’s life.

Improves Vision

Yes, you read that right. Playing video games can also help improve vision. However, that means not sitting too close to the monitor screen. Scientists have discovered that playing games in moderation can actually improve, not strain, players’ vision. In a study, 10 weeks of video game playing was linked with a great ability to discern different shades of grey. 

There were other participants who tried to play using their “lazy” eye, with the “good” one obscured. Those players showed significant results as it normalized their affected eyes. This is because video games improve abilities such as tracking several objects at the same time and paying attention to a series of fast-moving events that help improve hand-and-eye coordination skills for some people. 

So, does this mean that we should be playing video games more? Not really. What this article shows is that benefits from playing video games come when it is done in moderation.