Is Playing Video Games Good For You?


For years, most people were sure that video games were like chocolate chip cookies: mostly bad, tempting to people who should definitely stay away, but okay in moderation for the majority of us. We are now finding that not only is this not the case, but that in many instances, they in fact can make us healthier.

Improved Vision

A team of researchers led by Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester, tested video gamers to see if they showed any increase in vision and the results were impressive. They found that playing action games can improve the brain’s pathway for visual processing. People who played action-based video games – particularly first-person-shooter games – were 58% better at perceiving fine differences in shades of color, known as contrast sensitivity.

Quicker Reaction Times and Efficiency

In 2013, the American Psychological Association published a study that identified some of the benefits of gaming, and the results were surprising. They found that in controlled tests, kids who played first-person shooters showed faster and more accurate attention sharing, and higher spatial resolution in visual processing. First person shooter games are elaborate 3D virtual recreations that place players in scenarios where they need to react fast. So players are constantly practicing quick thinking and reacting, and show positive changes in neural processing and efficiency.  

Improved Memory

In a study published in the journal Nature researchers recruited adults between the ages of 60 and 85 to play a video game involving driving cars in traffic. The game required them to pay attention to multiple stimuli, while performing non-repetitive actions. Researchers found that under these conditions, their short-term memory and long-term focus improved.

Improved Hand Eye Coordination

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia found that children ages three to six who played interactive video games like Wii, had better kicking, catching, throwing, and bouncing ball skills than those who played non-interactive games. This may mean that playing video games help children develop better motor skills.

Helps Dyslexia Patients

Most children with Dyslexia find it very difficult or impossible to read and as a result they are often developmentally delayed. Because of this heartbreaking fact, science is on a constant search for tools to help improve these patients ability to read. In a small study conducted with dyslexic children scientists found they read faster and with better accuracy, after playing action based video games. Twelve hours of time spent by patients playing video games was the equivalent more than one year of spontaneous reading development.

Helps Lose Weight

You must be asking “How can someone playing video games, while sitting on the couch for hours help to lose weight?” Well to be clear, this traditional style of video game playing does not lead to weight loss. In fact it is most often the opposite. But there is a new type of video game called “exergames” that use 3D virtual reality technology to immerse the person in a virtual world built around exercise. These games are proving revolutionary in their effectiveness at changing behavior and in getting people motivated to exercise. There are even reports that some studies are showing that these changes also spill into better eating habits to go along with the increased exercise.

Please feel free to present this article when you want to enjoy shooting games on, and someone is giving you a hard time. Let them know that playing video games is actually good for you!



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