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8 Benefits of Video Games for Everyone

March 28, 2024

Video games are often misunderstood. Gaming isn’t something we do to avoid responsibility — it’s something we do to enrich ourselves. A video game session can be an immersive act of self-care, especially if you pick up your controller with the intention of unwinding. 

It’s time to reconsider how we view video games. It’s undoubtedly fun to spend an hour here or there exploring a fantasy world, and these worlds have a wealth of mental and emotional enrichment to provide.

“Bonus” Learning With Video Games

Believe it or not, every time you pick up your handheld or controller, you’re learning something! Succeeding at a game generally requires the ability to develop and adhere to a strategy, which fortifies critical thinking and cognitive skills, teaching your brain to explore problems from new perspectives. 

It’s easy to apply the lessons you learn while gaming to aspects of your everyday life. Everything from saving and budgeting your coins to preparing yourself for the battle ahead can translate into real-world problem-solving strategies that can make your daily challenges a little easier to face. 

Video games can open up a safe space to explore new strategies — there’s nothing tangible at stake. If you could have approached something differently, you can return to a previous save point and try again. It’s a no-risk, all-reward system that allows you to learn, create, and explore in new ways.

How Can You Benefit From Playing Video Games?

When you play a video game, you aren’t staring blankly at a screen. Video games occupy your brain power with a steady stream of tasks, each requiring a mastery of a different skill set to complete. 

Let’s discuss more in-depth how a quick gaming session can engage and enrich your mind by encouraging better coordination, reducing stress levels, and tapping into your problem-solving skills.

1. Improves Manual Dexterity and Hand-to-Eye Coordination

Gaming requires small, controlled movements. Whether you’re pointing and clicking or aiming and pressing, you’re engaging your motor skills, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. When you’re playing “Minecraft”, and you encounter spiders or skeletons, you need to react quickly. Your brain, eyes, and hands need to be perfectly in sync. 

Playing video games can train the accuracy of your dexterity and hand-to-eye coordination through practice. Studies in patients with impaired dexterity showed that video game-based dexterity training had a positive effect on their ability to recover lost or diminished dexterity and coordination.

2. Enhances Problem-Solving Skills

Puzzles are the backbone of every engaging quest. Even if there is no boss to beat, there’s something important to solve on the way to your next destination. How will you reach the treasure chest on an impossibly high ledge? Which one of your Witcher signs should you use to rescue the girl from the werewolf? How will you build a safe, sturdy underwater habitat to use as a home base while you explore the depths?

The problems you encounter in video games are vastly different from the problems you’ll need to solve in real life, and that’s exactly how they challenge you to think differently. Abstract problems require abstract solutions, which engage your creative thinking skills and enhance your ability to find unique answers.

3. Strengthens Your Ability to Multitask

Some video games give you a lot of things to keep track of simultaneously. You’ll have to remain focused on your health and needs while finding the most efficient ways to overcome obstacles and complete quests. Doesn’t that sound a lot like real life?

Video games are a safe simulation that simultaneously challenges you to juggle many important priorities. Many of the strategic multitasking decisions you make in video games can help you streamline or simplify your daily life. 

Let’s say you have to take a shower, do your laundry, meal prep lunch for the week, and complete a work deadline all in one day. How can you concurrently manage these tasks while tending to your needs? Think back to how you handle stacks of tasks in your favorite video game. You’ll likely find some useful answers.

4. Promotes Fast and Accurate Decision-Making

In real life, we have the luxury of sitting on important decisions for a while. Video games encourage (or outright require) you to think quickly. You need to make a split-second decision and don’t always have a large amount of time to consider all the options. Your only choice is to draw from instinct. 

Fast and accurate decision-making skills stem from your ability to recall from immediate memory. Learning to trust your intuition rather than spiral into overthinking can help you make rapid assessments of situations and even keep you safer in the real world. 

5. Builds Teamwork Skills

Video games that require you to work with a squad or a team are designed to help you quickly learn and utilize the strengths of the people around you. This is especially true when you don’t have the ability to use a microphone or type into a chat when you’re communicating with your team. 

Teams who learn together develop better social skills and refine their understanding of collaborative efforts. You’ll learn to assess strengths and weaknesses based on observation, allowing you to determine how the support you provide can be the most helpful for your team. You can carry these lessons into the workplace the next time you tackle a big project.

6. Promotes Mental Well-Being

Many people utilize methods like mindfulness meditation for their emotional well-being. The principle behind mindfulness meditation is to encourage yourself to live in the moment. Rather than allowing the burden of distractions or stressors to cloud your vision, you create an environment where they melt away from the present moment. 

When you’re playing video games, you’re in a state of mindfulness. You’re choosing to relieve stress in a healthy way and remaining focused on a single activity. This little break from mental and emotional noise can help you return to real-world tasks with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

7. Fosters a Supportive Environment

When you’re playing a team-based multiplayer game, your whole team is rooting for you. They can’t succeed if you can’t succeed. While many team-based action games do have competitive aspects, you’re never attempting to climb mountains alone. You all have each others’ backs, and everyone benefits from mutual encouragement.

8. Develops Emotional Skills

Soft skills help us wander through life with social and emotional intelligence, and having empathy is one of them. When you’re playing a video game, you’re viewing a fictional world through the eyes of a character. You’re brought to understand their goals, perceptions, and motivations. It’s the literal definition of walking in someone else’s shoes through role-playing. 

It’s similar to the effect that occurs when you’re watching a movie. Looking at a character’s face in a cinematic while their story is being told can deepen your connection to their plight and fortify your empathy skills. 

The empathy you strengthen through playing video games may help you in your interactions with people around you in the real world. You’ll strengthen your understanding of how to look through someone else’s eyes, which can help you be a better friend, partner, and co-worker. 

What Is the Importance of Choice of Video Games?

There’s no wrong way to enjoy gaming. You’re free to enjoy whichever games you like, but you may not experience the full benefits if you’re playing a game that isn’t designed to deliver those benefits. There’s a time and place to enjoy single-player survival horror games, but it would be a stretch to say that enduring the jumpscares of a dark, haunted, abandoned hospital is a gentle way to relax. 

Fighting your way through hordes of infected in “The Last of Us” won’t provide the same quiet, contemplative experience as foraging wild mushrooms and catching rare butterflies in “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”. There’s a time and place for both kinds of fun, and choosing the types of video games that suit your goals is important. 

Hero Journey Club: Benefit from Gaming With Therapist-Led Support

Hero Journey Club was created to make the benefits of gaming more accessible through therapist-led group gaming sessions

The therapeutic benefits of gaming act similarly to a social and emotional support group. Gaming is a flexible, comfortable way to bring people together who may feel as though they need a stronger sense of community and an easier way to communicate. 

The Research

We measured the outcomes for more than 500 Hero Journey Club members across two studies, and the results are in. The overwhelming majority of members (93 percent) report experiencing a greater sense of well-being after a gaming session. Nearly three-quarters of participants showed gains in clinical measures for feelings of anxiety and symptoms of depression.

The Results

More than 50 published studies have demonstrated that video games can play a valuable role in supporting our mental health. Hero Journey Club is designed to address many of the negative feelings people experience in their everyday lives, like social isolation and its negative emotional impact.

Improved Social and Communication Skills

Hero Journey Club is a social gaming group. Gamers communicate with each other and work together in therapist-led gaming sessions. Talking with teammates and collaborating fosters stronger social connections and communication skills. Many members report feeling less anxious interacting in-game with others in a virtual world than attempting to communicate with strangers in the physical world.

Greater Emotional Support and Regulation

Social isolation can have profoundly negative effects on your emotional state. No one wants to feel “othered” or be placed in a situation where they feel as though their voice doesn’t matter. Emotional support through the effects of video games can help to reduce the negative feelings associated with social isolation. 

The Bottom Line

Gaming isn’t for slackers — it’s about time we change the stigma. It’s an important tool for people to prioritize self-care and improve their overall well-being. Hero Journey Club supports healing through gaming by building a sense of community, fostering a supportive environment, and encouraging healthy social interactions. Check out our care team and start your journey to support your well-being through gaming. 

Sources:

Usability of Videogame-Based Dexterity Training in the Early Rehabilitation Phase of Stroke Patients: A Pilot Study | Frontiers in Neurology

Personal relevance and state empathy with a character facilitates self-disclosure in film viewers | Frontiers in Communication

Cooperative Team Learning and the Development of Social Skills in Higher Education: The Variables Involved | Frontiers in Psychology

Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress | American Psychological Association