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Health Benefits of Video Games

 Top Ten Proven Health Benefits of Video Games
Health Benefits of Video Games

Most gamers play games for one reason: because they're fun. The things that makes us happy in life are always worth indulging in, we only get one life and we should enjoy it as much as we can; but there are those who claim that gaming is bad for us though. Whether they claim games are making us anti-social, violent or just plain fat, the mainstream media loves to demonize games and make us feel guilty about playing.

Pain Relief

It’s certainly painful where you’re on a 24 kill streak and get sneakily taken out by some camping mofo, or when you lose online to some racist, sexist, homophobic moron on Xbox live. Games can also help relieve pain as well as inflict it though.

For those suffering from depression or another mental disorder, video games offer a way for them to relax and cope with the pain during the wee hours of the night when it's hard to turn off their brains. Video games are also reported to help those suffering from chronic pain because it distracts them and reportedly builds up their pain tolerance.

Of particular interest is the recent work done with Virtual Reality games. For those that don’t remember the early 90’s, virtual reality was a stupid pair of googles you put on your head that we all thought would make you enter a game world like in The Matrix, but actually made you feel sick and bump into things. Nonetheless Jeffrey I. Gold, Ph.D. said “Virtual reality produces a modulating effect that is endogenous, so the analgesic influence is not simply a result of distraction but may also impact how the brain responds to painful stimuli,”. 

Weight loss

While formerly a purely sedentary pastime, videogames have recently become the equivalent of the angry drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. They bark instructions at us like: “Jump”, “run on the spot”, ”sing, “dance”, “do press ups”, “play drums”, “stretch” and “throw a controller into a flat screen tv”. And how do we react to these instructions? We obey them of course! Like we do with any Space Commander asking us to wipe out a race of insectoid bio-aliens, or an Elven lord asking us to free the Kingdom of Nonsensia, we as gamers are programmed to do as we are told.

The benefit of this unthinking obedience is that it can make us engage in positive activities. We follow instructions so well that we will even leave the comfortable womb of our sofa ass-groove and physically sweat. We will do exercise, real exercise, if incentivised to do it by a game. Decades of TV documentaries have warned us about the dangers of heart disease, but its games like Dance Central, Warioware Smooth Moves and Wii Fit that have actually make us use our atrophied limbs for something other than shovelling food and lifting a remote. Sure, we don’t all play these games, but the people who do (and who take them seriously) see real world benefits. You know, little benefits like living ten years longer.

Increased Self-Esteem

It would be hard to imagine anyone who managed to improve their physical condition through gaming wouldn’t also see an increase in their self esteem. If you’re a 200 pound couch gorilla and Wii Fit helped you slim down enough to buy clothes from a non-specialist store then it’s a fair bet that you probably feel a whole lot better about yourself.

But gaming self esteem benefits can come from more than just physical improvement. In her book, Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal highlights several key studies showing that gaming actively makes us better people by raising our self esteem. 

In her own case, McGonigal was able to get over crippling neurological and emotional problems by making a game out of her own recovery. She has gone on to proselytise on the benefits of social and team work in games in making us all better at communicating, working together and developing our own self confidence and self esteem. Sure, she then went on to popularise the truly awful term: “gameification”, but at least she’s giving us all a good excuse when our mums/partners/wives/starving pets tell us we play too many games. We’re not just playing games, we’re re-establishing our self worth....by shooting dudes in the face.

Games That Can Help:
Wii Fit
Dance Central
Modern Warfare

 Other Benefits Are


Improved Social Skills

Improved Dexterity

Stress Relief

Improved Eyesight

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