If you’re looking to pass the time during lockdown or even improve your mental health, gaming could be the hobby you need. In this article, Angel Cabal Noriega from Game Champions shares his insight into how video games can help improve your mood.
With lockdowns in place due to the global coronavirus pandemic, more and more of us are turning to gaming to pass the time. In fact, the video game industry has never been so popular, with over 2.7 billion gamers worldwide and console revenue continuing to rise despite an economic turndown (Newzoo). But, during a time when mental health is in crisis, is all this gaming good for us?
Recent research has indicated that video games can actually have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing for a variety of reasons (Oxford Internet Institute). So, whether you’re looking for a new hobby or just want to know what the benefits of your gaming habits are, below I’ll take you through three ways video games could be good for your mental wellbeing.
Genres like adventure and role-playing games (RPGs) are becoming increasingly immersive with advanced graphics and customisation options, which means it’s becoming easier for even casual players to escape into fantasy worlds. No matter what’s bringing you down — work, responsibilities, relationships — detailed world-building, storytelling and character design can provide a welcome respite and help distract you from the ‘real world’ for a few hours.
Modern games even include vast opportunities to customise your experience, including the physical appearance and personality of your avatar or playable character. This can help you feel in control of your life and gives you the feeling that you’re adjusting the world to suit your needs (Sage).
Social interaction is great for combatting loneliness, and online multiplayer games can be a great way to meet people. You can practice forming bonds quickly and learn to communicate as part of a team for one session, thanks to matchmaking. Or, if you’re looking to make deeper connections with regular players, MMOs will allow you to wander the world and introduce yourself to players at will. Whichever approach you prefer, most games have an ‘add friend’ option that will allow you to team up with players time and time again.
Even if you only stick to single player games, you can get a similar sense of camaraderie from NPCs, as AI gets increasingly sophisticated.
Studies have shown that people who game often have better cognitive abilities in terms of analogy, processing speed, deductive reasoning, and mathematical intelligence than those who don’t play video games (NCBI). Cognitive skills like these are important for thinking and learning, and they can even help us develop better memories and attention spans. So, playing games can actually make our brains healthier and process information more effectively.
These cognitive skills can also help us succeed more at work and in education, in addition to performing better in our everyday lives, which in turn can make us happier individuals. So, there are plenty of reasons to continue developing your gaming skills. I would recommend playing dynamic games that present new challenges each time you play, such as Champions Mode that aims to take you out of your comfort zone, to get the most benefits.
These are just some of the ways that gaming can contribute to your wellbeing and positive mental health. Try playing some video games in your free time, and you’re sure to see the benefits.
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