Video games are often credited as being time-wasters, detractions from other activities that are perceived as “more worthwhile.” However, what a great number of people don’t understand is that video games can actually have tremendous life-long benefits that we are only now beginning to see in their long-term effects. Ever since Atari changed the way we see entertainment in the early 1970s, the latest video game innovations have been a huge topic of discussion from decade to decade. Now, more people play video games than ever before. The young and the old alike are grabbing their controllers and having some serious fun. They might not even be aware of how they might be benefitting themselves in doing so.
Yes, games are a great way to socially interact and blow off some steam. There’s a reason why video games are so incredibly popular, and their long-term benefits are not that reason – though perhaps it should be.
What are the Long-Term Benefits of Games?
When our basic cognitive skills are engaged on a regular basis with games like chess, Sudoku, online poker, bridge and the like, we can strengthen the brain’s defenses against a slew of disorders that can afflict us in our later years. This is established science. However, what’s less-known is how video games play a role in this “mental reinforcement” of sorts. In this article, we will focus on the benefits of fast-paced action gameplay as we currently understand them.
Action Gameplay Can Help in the Treatment of “Lazy Eye”
Otherwise known as amblyopia, “lazy eye” is a condition that an individual may experience wherein one eye essentially becomes non-functional. There are some studies that indicate 3D action-based gameplay can actually improve upon this condition. Some researchers have even found that the non-functioning eye can achieve 20/20 vision when the person is immersed in this kind of game.
Some Games Can Improve Executive Function
Executive function refers to an individual’s decision-making, multi-tasking and other skills relating to their efficiency. It has been shown that action-based gameplay and the quick decision-making skills that are required even when surrounded by distractions can carry over into other aspects of the gamer’s life. Researchers in 2013 found that in Multi-Aptitude Battery testing that individuals in the “gaming” group scored on these tests with greater improvements than those in the “non-gaming” group.
Oftentimes, gamers must quickly alternate between tasks, some of which can be conflicting to an existing task at times. As you can imagine, this in itself a test of multi-tasking ability. When one can efficiently make these decisions in a game’s environment, there’s little stopping them from being able to do the same in real-world applications.
Job-Related Skills Get a Boost, Too
To excel at a job, one needs decent hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, focus, memory and decision-making skills. Video games have been shown to improve all of these traits in a person, which can in fact make them a better employee in their adult years.
Some parents choose to limit or eliminate their child’s game time out of fear that gaming invites laziness and even poses a risk of harm to children. However, there’s no reason to think that this has to be true. As long as a child’s time in front of their games is monitored and does not impede their daily activities and responsibilities, more parents should consider easing up a bit and realize that video games aren’t going to lead their child down the path to ruin.