The first video game ever created was all the way back in 1958. Since then, the global gaming market has grown tremendously and is worth USD 173.70 billion in 2020, according to Mordor Intelligence.
I remember playing my first ever video game back when I was 6. It was one of the most famous DOS games, Prince of Persia. I spent hours navigating the dungeon and the palace in the game. I have played hundreds of games and spent thousands of hours gaming since then.
Image from Wikipedia
However, gaming is often associated with being a time-waster. Especially in this day and age where you see children holding iPads all day playing video games and watching YouTube.
Let’s get this out of the way; too much of anything is bad. If a student spent all his time gaming and not studying (definitely not me in high school), playing games, that could radically change your life’s outlook.
It all has to do with your brain’s chemical when doing something good, dopamine — the happy hormone. Research has shown that our brains often release dopamine while gaming. Dopamine is important for learning and concentration, but it is also associated with drugs addiction.
If gaming is more important to you than working or studying, you may have a problem. But as long as it doesn’t interfere with other more important priorities in life, such as personal development, relationship, career/study, there are many benefits to playing games.
Most people started playing video games when they become teenagers and stop playing when they reach their mid-20s.
Let’s look at some of the ways that playing video games is beneficial to you.
Leveling up your resilience
Many of these video games are hard, and you would fail a lot. Like what you must (and should) do in real life, it is important to stand back up and try again when you fail at something.
In our societies, kids don’t get to learn this. They are expected to be perfect with their grades, sports, and dances. Of course, real-life will hit them in the face and knock them off their feet eventually. If the first time you experienced this is in your mid-20s, you will have a hard time standing back up.
What do you do when you died or lost in a game? You try again, and again, and again. This builds up resilience that can be used in real life.
By playing video games, you also learn how to deal with failure and setbacks. I noticed this behavior in my nieces when they started playing collaborative video games with me. At first, when they lose, they don’t know how to deal with it and kept throwing tantrums.
But as they spend more time playing, they learned how to deal with failures and their behavior changes. Instead of blaming their failure on other factors, they accepted it and strived to be better.
Honing your problem-solving skills and creativity
Many video games involve puzzles that push your problem-solving skills and creativity to the limit. These skills are transferable, meaning you can use them in other aspects of your life.
When you are exposed more to puzzles in games, your brains will build up the neural pathways required to solve similar puzzles faster and better. When facing real-life challenges, the same pathways can be utilized to solve the problems.
Similarly, with creativity, many in-game problems require you to get creative to solve. The traditional or obvious approach may not work, so you must get creative and think outside the box to find a way to solve these problems.
Image from gamek
A series of games that I really enjoyed playing in this genre is The Room. In this game, you are put into an environment and must solve multiple puzzles to get to the next.
A similar series (albeit a bit older) is Tales of Monkey Island. This is an adventure game where you act as a pirate on a journey to different islands.
Improving fitness state
A new genre of gaming that is on the rise recently is fitness. Especially during the pandemic, people look to stay in shape in other creative ways. I was never a fitness junkie, so doing repetitive sets was never my thing.
Image from the Righ Fit adventure website
However, I have no trouble doing that when it is fun. Ring Fit on Nintendo Switch is a great game that helps me engagingly stay in shape. You have a piece of circle-shaped equipment that acts as a resistance to your abs training. Then you would venture into different worlds battling a bodybuilding dragon doing real-world exercise.
There are many great fitness games on the Nintendo Switch platform. Another one that I really like is Fitness Boxing 2. With this game, you grab two remotes and start air boxing away. You have real boxing actions like uppercut, hook, duck, as well as boxing combos. As you progress, getting a perfect score with this game can get challenging and break a real sweat.
Last but not least on the Nintendo Switch is the Just Dance series. Just like Fitness Boxing 2, you grab a remote and “just” start dancing away. Nothing beats following dancers on your favorite tunes. This is especially fun playing with your friends and family.
Image from the Verge
I recently purchased a VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2. I regret not doing this earlier because playing Beat Saber in VR is an impressive experience. You hold two saber swords (yes, like the one in Star Wars) and start hacking away boxes that come directly at you.
Playing these games burns off serious calories and is my go-to way to stay in shape amid the pandemic.
Learning from games
To me, gaming is not only fun, but it also helps me gain and hone real-life skills. I learned 10-fingers-typing playing Mario Teaches Typing. This helps me tremendously in my technology career later in life. Gaming can make learning mundane stuff much more enjoyable.
Image from mobiledailyapp
Another great learning game that I enjoyed is Brilliant. The app teaches a wide range of topics from Engineer, Physics, Math to Computer Science. Brilliant delivers content in five-minute chunks with interactive learning instead of formal learning where you would spend hours.
A very similar learning game that helped me a lot was Elevate. Similar concept to Brilliant, you would spend 5–10 minutes at a time playing games that would help improve your mental math reflex or language skills, such as reading, listening, and writing.
Another example is playing the famous Assasin’s Creed games such as Origin, Odessy, and Vahalla. Each game set its context in Egypt, Greece, and England, respectively. Not only did I spent hours adventuring, but I did also learn a lot about the historical events and famous figures in the ancient worlds.
Making you a better social creature
Then you have collaborative games where you have to work with other people to achieve an objective. This type of game will help your communication skills and bond with other human beings.
Similar to how your brains produce dopamine when playing video games when bonding with other human beings, the hormone oxytocin is produced. This hormone plays a central role in building relations with trust and loving feelings.
Image from Tech Advisor
My favorite game here is Super Mario Party (again on the Nintendo Switch) that I can play with up to 3 other people. There are hundreds of mini-games that you can play collaboratively or competitively. I often spend hours playing this with my wife and my nieces.
Collaborative Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (aka MOBA) games such as Dota and League of Legends are other great games in this genre. In this type of game, you would team up with 2 to 4 other people and play as a team. This kind of game is great as a team-building exercise for nerds.
Absolutely yes. Video games are fun and come with many benefits like the five mentioned above. There are other goods through playing video games that I didn’t mention in this article, such as improving memory, motor cognition, and relieving stress.
I am 30 years old, and I don’t see myself stop playing any time soon. I know some massively successful people that play video games regularly too. So no, gaming is not for losers.
On the other hand, playing video games alone cannot make you successful either (unless you are a professional gamer). But it is fun, and there are many benefits to doing it.
So why not pick up a new game today 🎮 😆