The Unexamined Life

5 Benefits Of Video Games That Will Surprise You

Be they for consoles, the PC or mobile devices, video games are long associated (rightly or wrongly) with a variety of adverse health and psychological effects, ranging from impaired social interactions to even death. In spite of their side effects, however, video games have benefits that will surprise you, courtesy of Andrew Fishman, a licensed Chicago-based social worker (and long-time gamer).

Here are some of them:

Brain On Meditative Autopilot

Mindful meditation helps practitioners focus on the present rather than thinking about the past or future. Multiple studies demonstrated that it not only improves focus, mental flexibility and relationship satisfaction, but also reduces stress.  

If you are mowing down waves of zombies, racing through a scenic track or simply solving a puzzle, you may effortlessly and unintentionally achieve a state of mindfulness while playing your favorite video game, especially if it is a well-designed game that has small and achievable tasks for you to complete. Psychologists sometimes refer to this feeling of being "in the zone" as flow, or the feeling of total immersion in an activity. A recent study suggested that, like traditional mindfulness apps, mobile games can help you recover from a long day without the feeling of doing a repetitive chore.

A Break From Life's Challenges 

Whether you are studying or working, games instantly provide you with the pleasure you need in-between days, weeks or months of demanding tasks. A good game with small, attainable tasks helps you create a feeling of satisfaction especially when struggling through setbacks. This is probably one reason why one study found that more than 60 percent of top executives play games when taking a break from work everyday.

Express Creativity And Freedom 

Although we are capable of expressing ourselves by practicing creativity, finding ways to do so can be challenging. Fortunately, if you are an avid gamer, open-ended sandbox-style games such as Minecraft and Fortnite Creative provide you the opportunity to demonstrate your creative side since they let you use the gaming world to make something cool, fun and unique.

Releases Dopamine

Whenever you do something pleasurable such as spending time with family and friends and eating something delicious, your brain releases dopamine, also known as the "happiness hormone" and "feel-good neurotransmitter." Video games are proven in one study to be capable of releasing dopamine, making them an easily accessible, cost-effective way to brighten your day, especially when done in moderation, helping you revitalize yourself before going back to the real world.

Social Interaction

One of our fundamental needs is to feel connected to others, and gaming provide us with avenues for social interaction online (e.g. in-game strategy, competition, trading items), even resulting in long-lasting friendships in some cases. If you are an introvert and/or someone with difficulty meeting others face-to-face in real life, then you will benefit from the anonymity afforded to you as a result of playing online video games.

Video game Video games combine all forms of media, from music, to visual arts, and of course, programming. Anton Porsche/Pixabay

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