5 Surprising Mental Health Benefits of Gaming
There are many ways to improve your mental health during the ongoing pandemic and beyond. The conventional advice would be to go outside and take a walk in your neighborhood or get in the mindset of preparing healthy meals daily. Others preach hiking, reading, or any other hobby as a way to get some peace of mind. We at Nemo never needed an excuse to play our video games, but it can also benefit your mental health.
In fact, performing well at video games and mental health thrive off one another. Therapy has helped various esports players win tournaments, showing how maintaining their mental health can make them feel much more confident in their skills. For this article, we’ve partnered with MyTherapist: you can visit them to find more information on the importance of maintaining your mental health.
Developing cognitive skills
When someone is heavily invested in playing a video game, they can develop problem-solving skills and increase their mental agility. In strategy RPG games like Fire Emblem, players need to determine the best course of action for all of their units, helping with problem-solving skills.
In other titles, such as Doom, the game requires the player to constantly move around in levels and take down demons, while avoiding various projectiles and other obstacles. This level of concentration can help players improve their dexterity and reaction time.
Lastly, players’ memory skills may also improve since they have to hold lots of information at once while playing a game. Games can stimulate an individual’s memory, which could help them recall important information in other facets of life.
Increase in attention span and strategy
Games can also benefit players by improving their attention span. If someone wants to get really good at a game, then they must pay attention to various small details at once and learn to be patient.
One of the best examples of this is the Dark Souls series. Since the game’s initial release in 2011, fans all over the world appreciate Dark Souls for grueling and methodical gameplay punishing any mistake. The only way to complete Dark Souls is to study each enemy’s attack patterns, strike when there is an opening, and find the best equipment by looking in every nook and cranny in the game world.
The series’s popularity stemmed from two more games, along with another successful title, Bloodborne, directed by the same person, Hidetaka Miyazaki. These games encourage cooperative play from their fanbase, resulting in a community being born from the games and many people making lifelong friends over their love of Dark Souls.
Talking strategy and fostering connections can inspire players to try harder, play better, and reap the rewards, without even realizing how much they are improving their attention spans and other cognitive skills.
Although there is a common misconception of players locking themselves in their rooms, in truth, many people play games with friends and family. When playing online multiplayer games, players can interact with other people via chat boxes or voice chat.
Last fall, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout became a massive hit when it launched in August. A significant part of its success is attributed to players getting together with their friends and playing round after round. Coupled with the worldwide quarantine preventing people from visiting their friends in person, Fall Guys and other similar games helped people socialize with one another while staying indoors.
Incentivizing physical activity
Virtual Reality (VR) gaming helps players stand up and move their heads while playing, while certain mobile games encourage players to explore their real-world surroundings. However, while this technology remains niche, Augmented Reality games (primarily utilizing phone or USB cameras) incentivize physical activity, too.
In 2016, Pokemon Go took the world by storm by incentivizing players to explore their surroundings to catch Pokemon at virtual locations tied to real-life settings, such as the local library. People can also virtually battle at various gyms physically located throughout a given city. Thus, not only did Pokemon Go inspire people to go outside, but various players met at Poke Stops and even worked together to accomplish various goals.
Another great game that helps with physical exercise is Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure. Released in 2019, the game tasks the player with saving the world by using a ring-shaped controller to go through levels.
The game asks you to perform various physical maneuvers with the controller, such as doing squats. It is quite easy to get physically exhausted while playing the game, and some players even felt encouraged to visit gyms and exercise because of Ring Fit Adventure.
Games can not only give you a workout, but they can help you reduce your stress as well.
A notable example is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released for the Switch last March. The concept of the game is about the player developing a community on an island from scratch.
The game exudes serenity with its relaxing music, slow-paced gameplay, and wholesome vibe. Many players also credit Animal Crossing: New Horizons as one reason they could endure the beginning of the global pandemic last year. By playing a game that allows you to take your time as you build an island paradise and invite your friends to hang out on your island, the game became a perfect escape from COVID-19.
Games are incredible pieces of media that help people overcome so many problems. Games like Animal Crossing provide a perfect, relaxing getaway from all of life’s struggles, while Dark Souls and Doom help people get into action-oriented titles.
No matter what game you play, so long as you have fun, you will likely benefit from the experience immensely and reduce stress, improving your mental health.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
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