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7 Unexpected Benefits Of Gaming

When people hear “gaming” they tend to think of sullen teenagers holed up in front of glowing screens with little to no interest in real life. In reality, gaming offers a host of benefits that extend far beyond the console. While it’s not a good idea to game 24/7, research shows that spending time playing has many perks.

Visual-spatial skills

Although video games containing violence have long been blamed for problems like depression and aggression, studies have shown that first-person shooter games can result in better spatial navigation skills. This can assist gamers to conceptualise 3D objects, for example, which is important in fields like the sciences, technology and engineering.

Problem-solving and decision-making

New games on the market are becoming increasingly involved and complex, which forces players to use their intellect to strategize and find solutions to complicated problems. On top of this, gamers have to become adept at making quick decisions and react instantaneously to questions.

Pain alleviation

It has been found that people who struggle with chronic pain can use virtual reality as a tool to distract themselves from constant discomfort. Gaming is similar in that it transports the player to an alternate world and allows them to get involved in an activity. Research has also found that playing games facilitates a process in the cortical system which supresses pain.

Help deal with dyslexia

Dyslexia can be hard to deal with at school and work, and many dyslexics will be thrilled to discover that playing games might improve their reading skills. Games that are fast-paced and action-packed demand quick thinking and the ability to adapt to different settings in a second – requiring players to switch gears mentally and hone their focus.

Be a better leader

Some gamers find escape in the fantasy worlds of games, and immersing themselves in different characters can help them to develop better leadership skills. In reality they might struggle socially but within the safe confines of virtual scenarios it is possible to gain confidence through making independent decisions and recognising abilities they didn’t realise they possessed.

Improve dexterity

This might come as a surprise to those who criticise gaming as a hobby for couch potatoes: a study proved that surgeons who gamed regularly, worked faster and more accurately than their non-gaming counterparts. This benefit also extends to others needing to improve manual dexterity, such as stroke patients trying to regain strength and balance.

Improve balance in MS patients

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects balance, vision and bodily sensations, and while there is no cure, medications and therapies can alleviate symptoms. In exciting new research it has been shown that playing games involving physical interaction – like standing on a balance board – can help MS patients improve their co-ordination and balance.

Time to look at the positive

The long-held idea that video games are detrimental to health and development is being disproven one study at a time. Instead of trying to prevent people from gaming, society should maybe try to recognise the benefits and make use of them.