Sometimes there is no better feeling than coming back home after a long day at work and unwinding by playing your favourite video game. It helps you unwind and de-stress. However, it can sometimes feel a little unproductive. But, what if you were to hear that video gaming is actually a good thing? That’s right, studies have shown that playing video games can actually be a beneficial hobby for us to have as it helps boost our brain power and learn new skills which can be useful outside of gameplay. Let’s dive right in as we discuss how video games can be helpful for our brains.
One of the greatest benefits of playing video games is that research has shown they can help strengthen our memories. In 2015, the Journal of Neuroscience published a study which finds that playing video games can help to strengthen hippocampal-associated memory. This differs when playing different kinds of games. For example, participants in the study who played the 2D mobile game Angry Birds showed no signs on hippocampal improvement. However, playing the 3D more immersive game Super Mario 3D World showed that there was a 12% increase in memory ability. Other games such as casino games and playing slots games online could aid in memory too, as they help to stimulate the brain and keep it focused which can help to strengthen the hippocampus.
Effective Pain Relief
In 2010, researchers found that video games, especially those with a virtual reality component, can be very effective pain relief options for people who suffer from pain due to chronic illness or medical procedures. The study found that patients who had been undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy reported that they felt less stress or pain when they were immersed in a virtual reality simulation game. Furthermore, patients in the study who were being treated for burns reported 30-50% less pain when they were playing video games. This is because the brain focuses on the game at hand instead of the pain, and gaming triggers feel-good endorphins in the brain, which help to increase happiness and reduce pain levels.
Many video games require the player to do multiple actions at once, which is why video games have been proven to aid people, young and old, with their multitasking abilities. Researchers from the University of Carolina conducted a study where 60-85-year-olds were required to play a racing game called Neuroracer which prompted different controls at different times throughout the game. Their findings showed that the participants’ multitasking abilities were significantly improved for up to six months following the study. By simply playing video games for a few hours a week, multitasking skills in older people can be made as effective as those of people in their twenties!
Next time you settle down to play a video game, don’t feel bad, science has proven that doing so can be good for your health, and it’s always good to follow the doctor’s orders!