Gaming is an essential part of digital life. Be it playing at home with a console or on the go with a mobile device, video games are around us all the time and are more accessible than ever before.
That’s why several researchers have worked to understand how this activity is changing the way we learn, cooperate and grow. Here are some interesting findings about the benefits of video games:
Just like games in real life, video games can teach us a bit about human nature. As gaming has become way more diverse and complex in the last decade or so, and as of lately it sometimes relies on a social component, it can teach gamers "to handle the kinds of conflicts they might face in the real world", according to psychologist Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. It also allows us to rehearse "themes such as power and dominance, aggression, pain, and separation" under non threatening conditions.
Since video games are usually a leisure activity, they can distract us from real-world problems and achieving goals within them can lead to positive feelings (like happiness and satisfaction) and reduced anxiety. Some researchers have found that when gamers feel free to make their own choices in well-designed games, they gain a sense of autonomy, along with competence and relatedness, the universal components related to psychological health.
A lot of people think video games are unproductive or just a waste of time, but some have found a way to turn it into a profitable activity. There are, of course, professional gamers —nowadays financially comparable to traditional sports athletes—, but casual gamers can monetize their sessions easily through online platforms like Twitch or YouTube. If you are among the VG Content community, you may want to check out our Kosmonaut Program, an affiliate program created exclusively for passionate gamers who wish to earn an extra buck through their online activity.
According to the Institute of Games from Australia, despite the common misconception of gamers as lazy, "video games actually promote a wide range of cognitive skills", such as spatial or attention allocation skills. They even point out that First Person Shooters also help developing strategy skills, turning video games into "a very active pastime, at least on a cognitive level" that can be "implemented in training situations, rehabilitation and other cognitive development exercises".
Depending what kind of video games we play, we may pick up information and knowledge. Simulation games have proven to be very effective for city planners, and puzzles can teach us about math, physics, geography or plain old logic. And since games usually require the player to reach a goal somehow, creativity is also enhanced and gamers usually develop problem-solving skills that pushes them to think outside the box.
According to Cuihua Shen from the University of California and Dmitri Williams from the University of Southern California, massively multiplayer online games (or MMOGs) allow people to experiment with leadership roles. Those experiences end up crossing over outside the realm of video games, where "individuals' relationship-oriented behaviors in the virtual world are particularly relevant to players' leadership status in voluntary organizations".
As long as video games are in balance with other life activities and responsibilities, they are a cool hobby and, for some, an income source. What part do video games play in your life?
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