The truth behind whether or not computer games are actually good for your health has raged on ever since the very first commercial consoles back in the 1980’s.
Whether it was Atari’s Pong, The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the USA), the advent of these machines caused much controversy and divided opinion between parents, teachers and, of course, gamers across the globe.
Whilst parents have always been concerned that hours in front of a video game could have a negative influence on studies, fitness and many others, there have always been experts out there arguing that, in moderation, playing classic games such as Mario, Sonic, and more recently Call of Duty could actually have a positive effect on cognitive function.
As the academic year draws to a close, we are sure that you have had just about enough of revision guides and study advice for one term, so the Collegiate team have created this feature listing our 8 top reasons why playing video games could actually benefit you.
Computer Games Could Help With Dyslexia
One of several conditions that research has indicated may be positively impacted by video games is dyslexia. Fast-paced games in particular have proven to be helpful for youngsters trying to develop their reading skills. Due to the fact that games like this help to develop attention spans, the tests showed that after playing games such as Rayman participants readings skills had improved significantly.
Super Mario 64 Boosts Your Grey Matter
One game in particular that prompted fresh talk of the positive effects of video games, was Super Mario 64 for the ever-popular Nintendo 64 console back in 1996. The console and the game in particular have become cult classics and even recent studies have shown the great impact regular playing of the game can have on brain growth.
The gaming group in question saw increases in brain growth of the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum, showing that playing the game had undoubtedly had a positive influence on cognitive development.
Ageing Could Be Slowed Down By Video Games
The concept of this one is not dissimilar to the theory behind playing brain training games on handheld console likes the Playstation Portable (PSP) or Nintendo DS.
Playing brain teasing games like this for around 2 hours a week have been shown to slow down mental decay and keep your brain stimulated. This in turn could well slow down ageing and ensure that we are as sharp as we can possibly be.
Stroke Victims Can Benefit From Playing Video Games
Video games can also be a great help for recovering stroke victims. A big part of such rehabilitation is learning simple things such as grip, spatial awareness and co-ordination. Debbie Rand at Tel Aviv University has had great success using video games to help stroke victims. Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 were all used in this treatment and showed quite remarkable results.
There Is No Doubt Over The Positive Impact Gaming Has On Your Eyes
In contrast to advice we may have received from our parents when we were young, gaming can actually have a positive impact on your eyesight. As long as regular breaks are taken and one doesn’t sit to close to their TV, fast paced games stimulate the eyes and studies have shown long term benefits.
Call of Duty and Sims 2 have both been used in these studies, and have shown to have corrective benefit for those with eyesight issues.
Could Video Games Relieve Pain?
Computer games have been proven to help with the relief of pain for individuals with chronic illnesses and also short-term issues such as burns.
This is particularly the case with virtual reality, which engages all the senses and not only takes the attention off pain, but also promotes the production of endorphins which can boost happiness and numb discomfort.
Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii’s have both been used for treating the aforementioned conditions and also for chemotherapy patients and the results have been positive to say the least.
Starcraft Can Boost Your Intelligence
Strategic games and fast paced games have so far dominated this article, due to the fact that they stimulate the parts of the brain that can grow and develop depending on our activities.
Call of Duty and The Sims have been used in many studies but one that has seen great results here in the UK is Starcraft, which was used at Queen Mary University and University College London.
Participants showed substantial gains in cognitive flexibility tasks, both in terms of speed and accuracy after playing the game for 40 hours a week over a two-month period.
Gaming Makes Us Happy
All the reasons we have listed above are grounded in science and researchers will continue to assess the positive impact gaming has on our health in psyches. But above all else, video games make players happy, which cannot be understated as a beneficial factor.
Everyone has things they enjoy, whether this be sports, shopping or watching TV and gaming is undoubtedly up there with all these pastimes. The scientific proof that these games can help with a range of conditions and cognitive function only goes to endorse these further and prove that, in moderation, playing these games can only be positive.
The huge online communities that have gathered over a short space of time show just how engaged and enthusiastic games of all genders and ages have become, and advances in technology are likely to mean that they will only get bigger.
At Collegiate we take gaming seriously, which is why at Crown House in Sheffield we’ve got private gaming booths. Each booth has a bass boosting soundbar with a large flat screen TV to provide a truly immersive gaming experience.