Though gaming seems to have a little bit of a bad rep (many think games are bad for you, are a bad influence on kids, and that they are a waste of time), video games may be having a little bit of a renaissance. More people are starting to play, and scientists and the public alike are starting to take notice of gaming as a hobby. Why is this? There is, for a start, a convincing and growing body of evidence that playing video games can be good for you, and that they don’t deserve some of the criticism that they get.
Game for your brain
For a start, studies have shown that games a good for your brain. For example, areas such as the parietal lobe and the anterior cingulate, which can help to strengthen your concentration and attention, are strengthened when playing video games. As well as this, the areas of your brain that are associated with skills such as spatial awareness and logical planning are also strengthened, with MRI scans showing that grey matter in these areas is increased. And this is only the start. Gaming can have further cognitive effects, such as
- It can improve memory – This is particularly true of, for some reason, platform games.
- Improved attention – Because gaming involved being engrossed and concentrating for long periods, it has been shown to be effective in improving attention span, even in those who suffer from disorders such as ADHD.
- It can reduce subjective sensations of pain.
We are not saying that if you want to be brainy, you should play video games! However, it is worth a try!
Playing games – Perhaps just the medicine you need
Gaming is increasingly being used in the healthcare sector as a form of treatment, for things such as:
- Elderly care
For example, take depression. Games have been shown to give people who suffer from depression a sense of catharsis and can provide something that everyone who suffers from depression will want: a break from their thoughts.
Studies have also been conducted on those who have recently suffered from trauma, and those who have been through surgery. What did these studies find? They found that gaming allowed the patients to recover more quickly from their ailments, and also reduced the incidence of flashbacks to the event.
Elderly care is another fascinating example and one that is becoming increasingly relevant in our society that has an increasingly aging population. Gaming, the evidence suggests, can slow the rate of cognitive decline in the elderly. As well as this, they can promote a sense of togetherness and community among those who live in retirement communities.
A few pieces of research have also assessed the impact of gaming on chronic and degenerative illnesses such as autism, depression, Parkinson’s, and other disorders, often for which there is no cure.T he University of Utah, for example, conducted a study which showed that gaming could increase the resilience of those who suffer from these illnesses. They surmised that this was the result of the positive emotions that the games fostered by impacting upon the relevant neural circuits.
What is amazing about the way in which gaming has been utilized in healthcare is the breadth and range of applications. It has been used to treat and in therapy for all ages, in a host of settings, and new applications are consistently being developed.
Getting on the computer can make you fitter
We have just seen that games can improve your cognitive health. However, perhaps even more surprising is the emerging evidence that playing video games can also improve your physical, including your cardiovascular, health. This is because of a relatively recent development in gaming, called exergaming. Exergames are games that you play by interacting with the game physically or using your body as the controller. Examples of this genre of games include the Nintendo Wii and dance mat games. Exergaming, according to the National Institute of Health, can have a positive effect on activity levels and increases the energy expenditure of those who play.
This may not seem like a big deal, but this could have a profound effect on our lives in a number of ways. For a start, it could help make society more healthy and can be used in the fight against one of society’s greatest contemporary issues: obesity. As well as this, it may make exercise more accessible, in a world in which gym memberships are incredibly expensive. And, let’s face it, it may also make exercise more fun!
Games, as we can see from the above article, can have a multitude of positive effects on health. However, we are not suggesting that gaming will have your brainier, healthier and more fit than ever alone. No, you may also need hard work, and you should obviously combine gaming with other healthy things, for example, healthy food, or mindfulness, or even carefully chosen supplements. Despite this, what is clear is that gaming can have a multitude of healthy and enriching effects on your brain and your body. As well as this, the most important things, or the thing that is at least as important, is the fact that gaming is fun. Every gamer knows this, and every person who doesn’t play games secretly thinks this. All you need to do is plug in and play! Computer Planet.