Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Videogames; Why they aren't bad for you.

"It is games that give us something to do when we have nothing to do. We thus call games 'pastimes' and regard them as trifling fillers of the interstices of our lives. But they are much more important than that. They are clues to the future. And their serious cultivation is perhaps our only salvation.." -  Bernard Suits - Philosopher
It's no secret, the majority of adults are against videogames because they are "bad for you". However, back in the late 19th century, people also claimed that the telephone would be bad for us. It was deemed a "social threat", much like videogames are today. The thing is, anything new that isn't completely understood, or looked at from the wrong perspective, is immediately believed to be "bad for us". I'm gonna give some reasons and statistics showing why videogames aren't entirely bad. Obviously these are a generalisation, and in no way apply to everyone.

Stress relief

Videogames are an amazing way to relieve stress, much more so than reading a book or watching a movie. We do these things to become immersed in a world that isn't our own. Reading a book leaves this world to our imagination. The world isn't shown to us exactly as the author intended it, but rather we need to create this world in our mind, while you have no choice in how the story will go. Watching a movie is much the same, except the world is presented to us as well as the story, giving you zero choice.
Gaming, however, is the most effective way to become immersed in a world. It allows you to be the character. It makes the world yours. It gives you choice. You can control the character, shape the world as you see fit, turn the story in the direction you want. It allows you to do all this, without disrupting anybody in the real world.

Improves Hand-Eye Coordination

Pretty self explanatory. Gamers spend their time on games, not controllers. They don't need to pay any attention whatsoever to the controller they're holding, whilst playing a game. Studies have been taken on this, tasking non-gamers to play 50 hours of gaming over 9 weeks. This improved the non-gamers ability to switch seamlessly between visual and attention tasks, which is a valuable life skill to have.
Researchers at New York's Beth Israel Medical Centre, have found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made fewer mistakes and performed laparoscopic surgery faster and more accurately than their non-playing peer.

Improves Visual Abilities

It improves your ability to concentrate on multiple tasks at once, and improves your peripheral vision. This is an essential skill when driving, because it requires you to scan the roads constantly, across a wide field of vision.
It also improves Contrast Sensitivity, which is the ability to distinguish between colors, for example, gamers have been found to be more effective at seeing more shades of grey. Also essential when driving, particularly at night or in fog.
With age, these skills begin to deteriorate, but with videogames, you can counteract this.
Fast-paced action games are said to be the best for improving these visual and attention abilities. Who ever said CoD was all bad?


While adults really don't think so, videogames are incredibly social. It's not a group of people sitting around a table, talking and drinking tea. No, it's a group of people, sitting around their own console, talking and slaughtering zombies or something. This brings people with similar interests together whilst doing something they love! This gives people more and more to talk about, and introduces people to others around the world. If that's not social, i don't know what is.


Ask any employer, and they'll tell you that teamwork is an essential skill to have. Videogames are amazing at building this. Take Battlefield Bad Company 2, for example. It's an objective based game, with 12-player teams, each with specific roles to cater to, such as being a Medic, or handing out ammunition, all the while trying to achieve the objective. This is an ideal trait for any employee to have.

Provokes Positive Emotion

"When we’re depressed, according to the clinical definition, we suffer from two things: a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity. If we were to reverse these two traits, we’d get something like this: an optimistic sense of our own capabilities and an invigorating rush of activity." - Jane McGonigal 'Reality Is Broken'.

This is exactly what videogames provoke. We play games to challenge ourselves. We don't need to play them. It's not exactly a necessary step to achieve a fulfilling life, but we do it because we love the challenge, the sort of challenge we can't find in reality. Once we complete it, we get a sense of self accomplishment, and a rush of happiness because you were able to.

There are many more positive benefits that stem from the gaming world. These benefits are what many parents overlook, perhaps trying to urge their children to become more like them. In reality, technology is improving, and the gaming world is becoming a major part of it. Games will continue to grow and evolve, and there will be more and more positive benefits which will come from it.

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