Gaming is a popular activity that is enjoyed by individuals from all backgrounds and ages. Given the rise in video game popularity, numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the positive psychology effects and benefits of gaming.
The Positive Psychological Effects of Playing Games
Many studies have been done to measure a person's ability to remember things, whether it is to memorize a list of words or recall an incident that occurred the day before. Generally speaking, individuals who are involved in gaming tend to have better memories than those who do not game. An example of this occurred at the University of California-Irvine, where researchers asked gamers and non-gamers to watch a 10-minute video and then recall the details of it. The gamers not only remembered more than their counterparts, but they also did so 20% faster. Researchers concluded that playing action games help people remember information better because action games activate regions in the brain that are responsible for attention during processing.
Furthermore, playing video games as a child has been linked to better working memory years later on specific tasks, according to new research looking at the connection between video games and cognition. Not only that, but recent studies have shown that video game playing may enhance learning and even protect against dementia in older people. For example, researchers at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona trained individuals to play "Super Mario 64" — a game that has previously been shown to cause structural changes in parts of the brain associated with executive function and spatial memory — in a new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Clearly, improved memory is a major positive gaming psychology benefit.
Just one hour of gaming a day can also improve attention span, according to new research published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, found that participants who spent one hour playing the video game League of Legends experienced changes in brain activity. In the study, the researchers conducted a series of “visual selective attention” tests. To their surprise, the researchers found that brain activity of the non-pro gamers increased after playing LoL, to the extent that levels of brain activity between pros and non-pros were now comparable.
In addition to LoL, “shooter” games like CS:GO have also been found to significantly boost attention. Gamers who play shooter action video games have better attention skills, including field of view, multiple object tracking and task switching. A 2009 study published in the journal Neuropsychologia, concluded that kids who had a history of playing shooter video games were better at noticing and locating objects in their field of view. They also showed an enhanced ability to pay attention to multiple objects simultaneously.
Furthermore, studies have shown that video games may help children with dyslexia to learn and read faster. People with dyslexia find it difficult to shift their attention between visual and auditory inputs. A study published in Nature found that video games helped dyslexic children improve their reading speed without sacrificing their comprehension, and the amount of progress they made in reading surpassed the amount of spontaneous, developmental growth that kids experience throughout a year.
Lastly, playing video games may be a good treatment for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In fact in 2020, the FDA approved a prescription digital game for ADHD treatment. EndeavorRx is meant to be used in tandem with medication and behavioral therapy on those who have either an inattentive or hyperactive disorder-type of symptoms that need more attention than usual due to their age (8 years old). Furthermore, playing video games as a child has been linked to better working memory years later on specific tasks, according to new research looking at the connection between video games and cognition. Not only that, but recent studies have shown that video game playing may enhance learning and even protect against dementia in older people. For example, researchers at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona trained individuals to play "Super Mario 64" — a game that has previously been shownto cause structural changes in parts of the brain associated with executive function and spatial memory — in a new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. This goes to show that improved attention is a major positive gaming psychology benefit.
According to recent research by Iowa State University, it was discovered that people who play video games have an improved level of creativity. It turns out that the level of creativity required by modern video games creates the perfect challenge for students to expend their energy, and, indeed, several studies have been done to investigate the connection between video games and creativity. In a study conducted at North Carolina State University, researchers found that playing action video games can increase a person's spatial reasoning skills over time. In this specific study, participants who played action video games experienced an average boost of 33% in their spatial skills as opposed to those who played strategy or puzzle-based games.
Furthermore, an experiment conducted in the Creativity Research Journal compared the outcomes of playing Minecraft (with or without instruction) to watching TV or playing a race car video game on 352 participants. After 40 minutes of playtime or TV watching, the participants underwent several creativity tasks. The most inventive players were those who played Minecraft, a game that allows users to explore unique environments and construct whatever they can imagine.
Creative expression is encouraged in nearly all video games and is a positive gaming psychology benefit. Players may develop a persona and narrative for role-playing games or get rewarded for innovative strategies in competitive games, according to researchers.
Improved Social Skills
Video games are often played with one or more people. Consequently, gamers may experience an improvement in their social skills. Many casual games are designed to be played with others on a team or on the same screen while competitive games may require communication between teammates.
More than 70% of gamers play with a friend, and millions of people worldwide participate in massive virtual worlds through video games such as "Farmville" and "World of Warcraft," according to an article in American Psychologist. Multiplayer games become virtual social communities, in which players must make rapid judgments about whom to trust or reject and how to direct a group. People who play video games, even if they are violent, that encourage cooperation are more likely to be helpful to others while gaming than those who play the same games competitively, a 2011 study found.
It is clear that video games can positively impact human psychology and many aspects of people's lives. Video games induce greater attention, creative abilities, mental stimulation, and even socialization within virtual communities to those who play them. Furthermore, research suggests that these benefits will become more widely accessible as gaming technology advances.
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