For many players, gaming isn’t just entertainment or a way to kill time. It is part of their lifestyle and who they are. When the real world is not enough, when one needs adventures that defy their fantasies and expectations, gaming comes to the fore. That is the power of gaming. It has the ability to transport the player into an alternate world and give experiences that otherwise cannot be felt. And as it happens, that’s not the only thing games can do….
1. A study of 5000 boys and girls revealed that children who spent almost an hour gaming were happier, less hyperactive, more adjustable and social than those who didn’t play at all.
Contrary to the popular belief of parents, video and computer games are less likely to have any possible negative influence over children. In fact, according to a study report by Dr. Andrew Przybylski, the link between behavioral problems among children and gaming is very weak. Just like games in real life, games that use digital media can be a good source of cognitive behavior enhancers as they involve using imagination and being alert in order to win.
The study also suggests, however, that video games alone cannot be held responsible for either positive or negative changes a child would experience and that familial and environmental factors should also be taken into consideration. They serve as a good distraction and a receptacle for the hyperactive energy most children have and spending that energy actively can lessen hyperactivity in other situations.(source)
2. Action video games train the brain’s neurons in making faster and more accurate decisions, say researchers from the University of Rochester. The players are sensitized to even the slightest auditory and visual changes, making them adept at multitasking, driving, navigating and successfully keeping track of things even in a chaotic environment.
According to Professor Daphne Bavelier and her colleagues, the nervous system adapts to what it is subjected to. In a study involving 18 to 25 year old non-players, a group played 50 hours of fast-paced action games such as ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Unreal Tournament’ whereas the other group played slow-paced strategy games such as ‘The Sims 2’.
When they were both tested for decision making based on visual and auditory input, the first group performed better and 25 percent faster than the second. This is because the brain’s decision making process is based on continuously computing probabilities based on the sensory inputs it is provided and the brain that is used to recognizing and analyzing those sensory cues faster can perform faster while arriving at a decision.(source)
3. Gamers are far more likely to have dreams that they can consciously control than those who don’t play.
Lucid dreaming is a practice that lets dreamers consciously experience and control their actions and the environment of the dream. It lets the dreamer explore the world that their mind subconsciously creates and is also used therapeutically to analyze and battle nightmares, phobias and fears.
Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist, conducted studies on gamers and their dreams. She found that spending a lot of time in a virtual world, fighting in it and controlling it can let the gamers do the same to their dreams. They become, to some extent, lucid dreamers – being able to flit between first person view and third person view as they do while playing.(source)
4. A group of adults were asked to play Super Mario 64 for half an hour each day. After two months, an MRI scan of their brains showed an increase in grey matter – proving that there is a “direct causal link between gaming and volumetric increase of the brain”.
There are parts of brain that are responsible for strategic planning, memory formation and spatial orientation without which it is nearly impossible to live a normal life. According to Psychiatrist Jurgen Galliant, video games are much better therapeutic resources than medicine or exercise as the patients are more inclined to do something fun and exciting.
The idea of using video games to treat patients with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Schizophrenia, degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s or any other disorder that requires recuperation of the brain cells is now being increasingly accepted.(source)
5. A game of Tetris can help cut down on your cravings for sex, drugs or food.
Most cravings and addictions are usually psychological needs, and often a desperation to find something that exhilarates the brain. Sometimes all they need is a little distraction to refrain from giving into the craving, and playing a game of Tetris can be one such distraction.
To investigate this, a study involving 31 students was conducted by psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology. They were asked to regularly report their cravings and a subset of that group was asked to play a very immersive game of Tetris. The subset that played the game was reported to have reduced number of cravings than those who didn’t.(source)