It seems like most people play video games. You’re probably among this steadily-increasing group of people. If you aren’t, you most likely know several people who do.
They have become a major part of modern life. Everywhere you go, someone – somewhere – is touting the euphoria of electronic gaming. It brings them a certain joy that other pastimes do not.
Frankly, I’m happy for them. I wouldn’t want anything else for a person than to experience bliss in such a (hopefully) harmless manner. Even among those, I do know who might qualify as addicts, it seems so much less destructive than alcoholism or drug addiction.
They might not talk to people for a while or be too exhausted to focus on their job, but they aren’t wrecking their livers or hiding the habit from their loved ones. It’s pretty innocuous. Annoying, but innocuous. No one gets hurt.
I’d argue the benefits of playing videogames far outweigh the downsides, even the extreme ones (at least one person has died from a hardcore gaming addiction). But what are these?
I should mention I don’t play videogames. At least not like I used to. I might bash out a round of Tetris, or fiddle about in a simulation game such as The Sims and let my God complex run amok for a bit – but, overall, I am not a gamer.
For those I’ve known who belong to the “gamer” subculture, one of the constants I’ve seen is a connection. Social media has taken over the world (as mentioned in my previous post). And so, when someone completes a crazy task or achieves some sort of milestone, they have the option to let all their friends in on the celebration.
This is something I’ve always found beauty in a way. Sure, there’s a lot of negativity and toxic masculinity inherent in male gamers. Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are famous for slurs being hurled like tennis balls at Wimbledon.
At the same time, I’ve known quite a few less insidious trends to emerge among women and other minorities who play games. It’s this that makes me feel there’s some hope among gaming to really bring people together.
Another characteristic of gaming I really dig is its benefits on hand-eye coordination. When a person is deeply-immersed in their environment, they enter a trance of sorts. It makes looking down at one’s hands and then back up again nigh on impossible.
As a result, the player must be able to pound buttons while keeping their eyes locked on the screen. Gaming has had scientifically-proven benefits, and it’s observable in person. It is truly a wonder when you think about it.
I’m not sure about how much lasting effect videogames have on concentration, but most of the people I know swear by its effects on focus. It makes sense when you consider what goes on while progressing through the levels and the arenas of any game.
You have to complete a series of tasks and get to the finish line, and going off the beaten path can lead to not completing the challenge at hand. By not maintaining your attention, you fail (or, at the very least, make it very hard to win).
As well as this, most gamers I know have ADHD. I haven’t studied the science on this in the least, but it would make sense that there probably is a correlation. I’m a huge fan of listening to an affected person, first and foremost, so I believe what they say.
The biggest benefit I’ve seen firsthand is tension release. Back when I played video games, I found the best way to let off steam (when all I wanted was to lose it on someone) was to plug in and play. After a half-hour or less of playing, I no longer wanted to do anything silly. And I’ve heard from and seen the same effect in other people. They’re a fantastic stress relief.
So there you go; just a few benefits of gaming. There may not be many (and there are probably plenty I’ve left out), but these are the best and most notable ones I could think of. And like anything, video games can become an issue in a person’s life. But it’s hard to think of purely recreational activity as relatively harmless as gaming.
Stephanie Knarr recently moved to Pittsburgh, PA from the Harrisburg, PA area. Her writing appears in Harrisburg’s local magazine, The Burg, and her work will soon appear in Unwinnable and Five:2: One. Her favourite drink is RC Cola, and her favourite band is probably Animal Collective.