Video Games: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Most people think playing video games is a bad habit and a waste of time. They argue that gamers could better spend their time by learning new skills or studying. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Playing video games can actually prove beneficial, helping kids and adults alike.

One of the main benefits of playing games is health related. In a weird twist, gaming can actually improve your vision and may help vision impairment disorders such as cataracts. As games become more intense and demand more attention, your eyes begin to adjust to the stimulation. Your eyes may develop the ability to follow rapid stimuli, distinguish different shades of color, and focus on small details better.

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Seniors can often be found playing the Nintendo Wii.

Video games have also been proven to improve your memory and cognitive abilities. Puzzle games, RPG’s, and other genres encourage players to develop problem solving skills for puzzles and fighting monsters. Studies have found that people of any age, including seniors, benefit from playing games a few hours a day. While it isn’t conclusive, some suggest video games may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Fun fact: gamer’s make great surgeons. This is because video games can improve not only your motor skills, but your hand eye-coordination as well. Studies have found that High School and college students that play games have actually tested better than resident physicians on surgical robotic equipment. Because of these and similar findings, companies are developing games to train the next generation of surgeons.

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Surgeon simulator, a game literally about performing surgery. 

Suffer from anxiety or depression? Then pick up that controller and play a few games. Social and puzzle games can reduce the symptoms related with these mental issues. These games promote teamwork, give a sense of accomplishment, and can make you feel more confident in your abilities. I myself have struggled with depression and anxiety for years, often turning to video games to alleviate my symptoms. Honestly, if it wasn’t for video games I might not be alive today.

Playing an FPS or RPGs can also help improve your decision making skills. Frequently gamers come across life and death situation that requires quick decisions. Failure to chose correctly or swiftly results in their virtual death. This practice can translate to the real world and make people more confident and swift to make a decision.

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A clip from Portal 2, a puzzle solving FPS game.

Finally, video games can help raise your IQ. That’s right, playing video games can make you smarter and perform better at school. An Australian study found that students who played online video games score higher in both math and science than those that don’t. This can be attributed to video games’ creative nature and problem solving situations. While the study didn’t look for an exact cause, the correlation cannot be denied.

As we continue to progress there seems to be no limit to the benefits they can have. But remember, all things in moderation. There can be negative consequences too. But who knows, the next game you play can potentially improve your life.

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