Can Video Games be good for you?

Cronweld Leon

The question parents doubt all the time: Can video games be good for you?

While some of us argue that games like Blockbusting and Candycrush are distracting and useless, there are indeed games that do require the participant to be mentally present in order to beat the game, save the princess, or acquire the trophy. In a study done by German researchers, they had a group play "Super Mario 64" for 30 minutes a day over a period of two months, and another group do nothing. They found that the video game group had increased brain activity in areas of the brain that are responsible for spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning, and fine motor skills in the hand.

Here is more information on that particular study:

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What else?

Well, good question. There are several other ways in which video games can be helpful, but in moderation of course. No sense in missing out on exercising by using the excuse: "Video games are good for me!"

Besides the traits of the brains that have been mentioned earlier, studies have shown that it also helps with the brain flexibility or cognitive flexibility. It's the mental ability, or having the mental capacity, to switch between two or more concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. the popular "Sims" game has been show to increase accuracy and speed of these mental traits. Another trait that video games have shown to improve is a person's ability to discern subtle changes in the brightness of image. This trait is one that diminishes with time and affects tasks like driving at night. Studies have shown that first-person, action games, also known as shooter games, help with this contrast sensitivity function. Being able to pick out enemies in a game and reacting quickly helps gamers develop and retain this function, and have even been able to correct eyesight.

Games don't just help people retain and exercise functions, but they also help people who have problems with those functions. For example, a study done with kids from the age of 7-13 with Dyslexia were separated into groups and asked to play "Rayman's Raving Rabids" and other games. The group that played "Rayman's Raving Rabids" showed improved skills in reading, with both speed and accuracy. Games also help people of an older generation and not just kids. Games help reduce mental decay associated with aging, especially games that are considered "brain teasers," or games specifically designed to exercise different brain functions.

Games also help people in recovery or with illnesses. People undergoing chemotherapy or other serious treatments are immersed in video games. The brain takes the function off of the pain and focuses on the task(s) at hand; therefore, acting as a pain reliever and reducing anxiety. Gaming has also been shown to release endorphins which are generally associated with happiness and capable of reducing or numbing discomfort. In studies with stroke patients, games help in rehabilitation of lost arm motor skills and hand strength. They have reported that they are more likely to double the number of arm movements because the movements are made to accomplish goals versus repetitive exercises. It has been shown that games can also be used as a form of counseling for depression. Again, it's association with endorphins can generally help with a number of conditions and illnesses that people suffer from everyday.

These are just a few ways that show how video games can be healthy for you. The number of possibilities are endless, it just takes someone like you to find them

Activities to try!