10 Benefits of Playing Video Games

I don’t even know what can be better than playing Age of Empires II online with 5 of my friends. Yep, I know that it was released in 1999 but good games never die.

It’s such an incredible emotional boost. Moreover, it requires so much multitasking that I can’t even think of such  difficult situations in the real world.

Leading your army to the battlefield and at the same time not forgetting to manage your economy, do researches and even defend your walls from the enemies – try this.  I was sure it had to be very beneficial for my mind.

However my girlfriend says it’s stupid and that I should stop playing it. Well, I won’t give up so easily! I did a little research and found 10 arguments for her. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation like mines, where you have to proof that gaming is GOOD here is a list of 10 benefits of playing video games:


Chicago-based psychologist Dr. Kourosh Dini argues that video games can teach us empathy. “One of the big things about many games is you’re interacting with other people in such a way that you have to actively think about what the other people are doing or thinking in order to either play against them or play them cooperatively. Either way you’ve got to be engaged in trying to think of how is this person learning and what’s this person going to be doing next.”

Better Cognitive Health

Playing video games have shown to have positive effects on cognitive health. It is no wonder why, because the majority of games require players to follow rules, think tactically, make fast decisions and fulfill numerous objectives to win. In one study, psychology professor  Arthur Kramer from University of Illinois recently found that Big Huge Games’ Rise of Nations strategy game improved specific cognitive skills (such as short-term memory) in adults in their 60s and 70s under lab conditions.

Another study, by Sony Online Entertainment and Yahoo! who had a huge parent survey in June 2008 and found out that 70% of the parents surveyed  have seen their children’s problem-solving skills improve since they started playing video games.

Of course gamers aren’t automatically guaranteed to have better cognitive health than their grandparents because cognitive fitness mostly depend on four major pillars: nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and mental exercise. Although gaming is a good mental exercise, but just sitting in front of your computer doesn’t serve for better nutrition and physical health.

Better than TV

The biggest difference between time spent playing video games versus times spent watching television is that watching television is a completely passive experience. The majority of TV viewers just tune in and start swallowing whatever is presented.

Gamers, on the other hand, are active while playing games and have to solve many problems, use analytical thinking skills and react to fast changing situations. So over time, the difference between spending leisure time in the active experience of video gaming over the passive experience of television watching could be significant.

“Video gamers present as brighter, livelier and more interesting people than the average “couch potato.””- says Russel Dawson, who is a teacher and a parent also.

Better Mood and Post-traumatic Gaming

Studies have shown, that games  help alleviate common stress that we feel every day. PopCap-endorsed study by East Carolina University’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in 2008 found that casual games can improve players’ moods.

Scientists utilized positron emission tomography in order to show that levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine increased while playing video games (dopamine is believed to mediate several behaviors, one of which is the experience of pleasure).

Moreover, there was a study at Oxford University which found out that Tetris can help subjects deal with post-traumatic stress. “Tetris may work by competing for the brain’s resources for sensory information,” Dr. Emily Holmes recently told the BBC. “We suggest it specifically interferes with the way sensory memories are laid down in the period after trauma and thus reduces the number of flashbacks that are experienced afterwards.”

Improves Hand-Eye Coordination

There was one interesting but small study by doctors at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York noticed a link between gaming and improved performance in laparoscopic surgery. A study of 303 laparoscopic surgeons (82 percent men; 18 percent women)  showed that surgeons who played video games requiring spatial skills and hand dexterity and then performed a drill testing these skills were significantly faster at their first attempt and across all 10 trials than the surgeons who did not the play video games first. It’s hard to believe, but not playing games could even lead to someone’s death!

A Remedy for Intense Pain

Medical News Today in one of their 2007 year reports said Nationwide Children’s Hospital Burn Center had begun using video games to help kids suffering from intense pain. How does it help? Well, the best natural remedy from pain is probably distraction, and what other thing could be so fun and involving as video games?

Dr. Catherine Butz told the publication, “Research shows a very strong connection between anxiety and pain. Distraction does a great job in decreasing any kind of anxiety that might be associated with the anticipated procedures, so by distracting patients and keeping anxiety at a minimum, procedures tend to go much more smoothly and be much less painful for the child.”
There are also media reports about hospitals using video games to help patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Sharper Image

According to a 2006 study at the University of Rochester , “…Avid action video game players were found to localize a peripheral target in a field of distracting objects more accurately than non-action video game players, as well as to process a visual stream of briefly presented objects more efficiently and to track more objects at once than [non-action video game players].”

Distraction from Snacking or Overeating

RealGames after questioning 2,700 respondents found that playing video games was  a positive distraction from snacking or overeating for 59 percent of respondents, while 42 percent of smokers among the group said casual gaming helped them light up less frequently.

A New Way of Teaching

Games could be the best type of learning material because they keep you at the edge of your abilities.  At first everything begins at a very slow pace and it starts getting faster and harder the higher level you advance. So the better you are at some particular game the more demanding it becomes. Remember Tetris? In the 1st level it’s a peace of cake, and it trains you for the upcoming fast speeds, whereas common lecture could be too hard, so eventually it gets frustrating and too hard to learn, or just too easy and soon gets boring too.

“The learning processes behind play, I think, are undervalued,” says psychologist Dr. Kourosh Dini . “When a person is engaged in play, they seem to learn better. … There’s this feeling of mastery that can happen that sometimes kids don’t get to achieve otherwise.”

In 2007, the MacArthur Foundation said it would be contributing $1.1 million in funding towards a new middle and high school in New York whose curriculum would draw inspiration from video games. It doesn’t mean of course that students will be killing each other in Counter-strike game, however.

Imagination Boost

Do you want to get into the shoes of an army general and lead your warriors intro the battlefields? Maybe fly a Jet plane or become a zombie slayer and save the world? The possibilities are infinite. Doing these mind blowing things puts you into situations that you’ve never been to and forces your mind to think in a completely new and different way.

Sims creator Will Wright once wrote, “…The gamers’ mindset—the fact that they are learning in a totally new way—means they’ll treat the world as a place for creation, not consumption. This is the true impact video games will have on our culture.”