The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Benefits of Video Games

Video games get a bad rap, but gaming in moderation can actually be good for you.

Medically reviewed in February 2021

It’s official: video games can be bad for your health according to the World Health Organization (WHO). If you put gaming before your job, education, personal life and overall health and well-being for at least 12 months, you might have gaming disorder. But before you delete all the games from your phone and get rid of your expensive gaming consoles, consider that gaming in moderation can actually be good for you. Here are some benefits of gaming:

Increases optimism
Most gamers know that the game over screen isn’t the end. It’s just another chance to try again. If they die in a game, they learn, get better and eventually win. Gamers tend to carry this positive mindset into their real life. A study published in PLoS One found that gamers devote more brain power to determination and optimism than non-gamers. Neuroscientist Judy Willis, MD, agrees. In the book SuperBetter, she discusses how having the opportunity to try different strategies and improve performance releases bursts of dopamine in gamers. As a result, they become less afraid of failure, seek out more challenges and become more resilient when faced with obstacles.

Boosts brain power
Game designer and scholar Jane McGonigal, PhD, believes that video games can improve lives. Players develop their cognitive abilities when they use logic and critical thinking to reach the next level or finish. Plus, working to remember patterns and information about missions, characters and items all keep your brain stimulated.

Improves decision-making skills
A 2013 American Psychological Association (APA) study found that strategic video games can develop a player’s problem-solving skills. Their ability to formulate and execute strategic plans in a game can carry over to the non-gaming world. Also, fast-paced racing games may help the player make accurate decisions under pressure in real life.

Strengthens social connections
Penn State University research found that video games offer more than just entertainment since now many games include a social component. Whether a game has a co-op, multi-player or online option, the goal is the same—work together to meet objectives and defeat enemies. The ability to collaborate with others transfers to the real world. Working within a specific timeframe, managing different personalities and achieving a goal are all vital for success in school or at work.

While it may be tempting to forgo your responsibilities and get immersed in the latest RPG, or play games on your phone until your battery dies, remember that moderation is key. For your overall happiness, health and well-being, physical activity and other types of social interaction are important, too.

This content originally appeared on Island Scene.

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