If you want to know why videogames are good for you, you’ll love this article. Here I discuss four ways video games affect your behavior and how video games have an emotional impact on you.
Video gaming is everywhere. It’s popular with children as well as adults and there’s definite negatives to video gaming such as playing excessively and neglecting your responsibilities, but there’s some definite upsides to playing video games and there’s lots of research on this actually confirming these findings.
Why Videogames Are Good For You?
1. Improves Cognitive Functioning
Playing video games especially, the shooter type games improves cognitive functions such as attention, spatial skills, visual processing and mental rotation abilities. Spatial skills are the ability to visually manipulate things in your head and having strong spatial skills predicts better performance in STEM areas – STEM stands for science, technology
engineering and mathematics.
An important point though in this in the Granick study is that they noticed that the enhanced cognitive abilities came from playing the shooter games. They didn’t come or you didn’t see this these improvements with the puzzle and the role-playing games. They proposed that this was likely because of the visually rich graphics and the kind of quick need to make decisions and things that came with the shooter type videos.
Video games also enhance creativity and problem-solving so for the creativity they they found that all video games helped with that not just the shooter games.
2. Improves your resilience
Video games improve how you bounce back from failure. Now I know that’s kind of deep so just give me a minute here and I’ll explain. This is a watered-down explanation of this and if you want to know the details you can read the study by Dweck.
So here’s the explanation. Your beliefs about your intelligence and your abilities are based on the way you were praised as a child. If you were praised for your traits, you will believe that your intelligence is something that you’re born with and it’s fixed and really you can’t change it – essentially you got what you got. And this is called the entity theory of intelligence.
If you were praised for your efforts, then you will believe that your intelligence is changeable and you can improve it with hard work. This is called the incremental theory of intelligence.
Still with me? Here’s where the gaming thing comes.
In the immediate feedback that you get with video games through points and bonuses and things those things reward persistence and it keeps players playing. Some games do a really good job of this by dynamically increasing the difficulty level requiring you to think faster and be craftier and navigate better etc.
So if you’re one who has the incremental theory of intelligence, the one that’s effort based when you fail at a level, that failure will motivate you to keep going because you’ll already internally understand that just working hard can allow you to get better. In contrast, someone with the entity theory of intelligence, that’s the one that’s inborn, that person is more likely to feel worthless from failing and they’re more likely to just give up.
So video games promote and train you to be more motivated by failure and to be more resilient. Now if you start playing video games at 50, this probably doesn’t apply to you much.
But if it’s something you’ve been doing for a while and your personality is more malleable and changeable these games or at least it’s thought can help you develop more of an attitude of working hard to achieve and be more resilient to failures.
Another benefit to video gaming is that it…
3. Helps you process aggression.
In the psychiatry world we call this sublimation. Sublimation is a defense mechanism where you take unacceptable impulses and process it through acceptable means.
So for example, if your coworker makes you stressed and angry, instead of coming home and yelling at the dog you go running instead to blow that off. So, I work all day deal with these things that irritate at me, go home be angry, go to bed, get up next day and keep doing it for a whole year until I discovered the game Quake.
This was in the 90s the graphics weren’t nearly what they’re like today with video games. But this is a game where you would go and you shoot creatures and blood would spurt out and if you shot them just in the right spot the head would blow off and it was just so satisfying to see that.
You could even dive into the water and sometimes see their heads sitting on the ground or sitting at the bottom of the lake. That was just so relaxing for me. So then I started going to work putting up with the stuff I had to put up with and I’d be thinking about I can’t wait to get home and play Quake.
I go home play, be relaxed and then go to bed. My stress level went from way up here to way down there because I wasn’t on-call as much. So I was still working hard but my hours were less and I was getting more sleep. So I was able to go out with friends. I wasn’t angry anymore.
So one day I thought, you know, I hadn’t played quake in a while let me just give it a go and it was terrible experience for me… and I thought, how in the world did I play this game it was just way too stressful for me and the reason it was stressful because I didn’t need to sublimate my aggression or my anger anymore.
So Quake was my meditation at the time.
Now many people will say video games promote violence and if you look at the example I just gave you I’m shooting off heads for pleasure – what does that say about my personality? What does that say about what I’m gonna become?
Well actually this has not been shown to bear out in studies in fact one published in 2014 was a long-term study and it came to the conclusion that thus far there’s been no link between violent video games and the violence and the users or even violence in society and even earlier studies have shown that playing violent video games decreases youth violence.
And researchers suggested for this particular study that it might be related to the distraction or being able to be distracted by using these games. My own theory is that it has to do with this idea of sublimating your aggression. Someone makes you angry, you log in, you shoot a couple of zombies, you feel better, you can reenter the world and assume appropriate behavior that conforms to society’s rules.
Now of course, I say this in jest. You shouldn’t want to hurt people. But the truth is we all have a primitive lizard part of our brains that has aggressive impulses. The psychological term for this is the ID. And what you do with these aggressive impulses matters more than having the impulses.
So we all have a bunch of unacceptable thoughts that we don’t act on. But pretending like you don’t even have bad thoughts causes more problems than just accepting that you do.
So if you have some angry feelings towards someone or something, acknowledge it, pray about it if you’re a praying person, then go work it out whether it be through video games or taking a jog or banging on some chicken breasts while you’re making dinner.
4. Video games can help you be more social.
This can come from either playing side-by-side or even playing multiplayer games. And it’s not just about playing with other people that can make you be more social. Some of these games will reward you for cooperating to help someone else.
So, some research has shown that children who play these pro-social games are more cooperative and helpful with other children. So if you’re not a game or maybe it’s time to join the party.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about why video games are good for you. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.