The Benefits of Video Games

By: Phoenix Robertson

Have you ever heard people say that playing video games is a waste of time and has no benefits in the non-virtual world? If you have, then you have heard a lie. Studies have shown that playing video games can actually increase the player’s empathy, help them learn time-management skills, and learn about the importance of responsibility. If you are a current gamer or a prospective gamer, keep reading about how gaming can help you learn skills that you can use in the non-virtual world. 

Empathy

Video games that involve cooperation with other characters and the importance of teamwork can be a great way to expand your empathy. In some games, such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Stardew Valley and Spiritfarer, understanding other characters, mostly non-player-characters, is how you advance in the game. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons you can better the lives of your villagers and the atmosphere of your island community. In Spiritfarer you have to learn how to understand the emotions of others, specifically ghosts, and keep them comfortable while they prepare to progress to the spirit realm. According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine, written by Tobias Greitemeyer, Silvia Osswald and Markus Brauer, “two studies revealed that playing a prosocial (relative to a neutral) video game increased interpersonal empathy and decreased reported pleasure at another’s misfortune (i.e., schadenfreude).” (Greitemeyer et al.).

Time Management

Students in today’s world have a tight schedule. Many students have to balance homework, familial responsibilities, jobs, and extracurricular responsibilities. Timed video games, such as the games in the Mario game series and Minecraft, also run on very tight schedules. In order to complete the game, you must make the most of the time you are given.  In the Super Mario games, you must complete the map in a small time frame. Minecraft also runs on a very tight schedule, but as opposed to a timer, it runs on a daylight schedule. The time-management skills that players learn from playing video games can be directly translated to the way the players manage their time in the real world. Gamers who are students can translate this to the way they manage their time concerning school work and extracurricular activities.  

Responsibility

In today’s world, students have a lot of responsibilities. These can range from school to work to familial responsibilities. Video games can also teach their players the meaning of responsibility and how to manage their own responsibilities. Games such as Mii Tomodachi Life, where the player is put in charge of an island and has to take care of the island’s residents, teach the player the importance of carrying out their responsibilities. If the player, or mayor of the island, doesn’t take good care of the town, then the town will not successfully develop, and the player will receive negative consequences. The importance of responsibility and learning to balance good leadership in your own responsibilities is something that many people must learn. Players can learn how to balance and carry out these responsibilities by playing games that simulate positions of power and high responsibility. 

Connecting with Others

According to an article written by Jennifer Langston,when a survey was done of a group of parents who allowed their children to play the game Pokémon GO the parents, “reported spending more quality time with their children as a result of playing “Pokémon GO” together and talking more than usual, both about the game itself and about other things in their lives”. This survey is a shining example of how healthy gaming can be implemented into people’s lives and improve their lives. It was especially noted by the parents in this study that the game play their children were involved in was monitored and controlled. The parents played the game alongside the children, and they were only allowed to play the game after their homework and/or chores were completed. The parents then noted that, after these periods of game play, they felt their children communicated with them more frequently and more effectively.. This demonstrates that a healthy, controlled amount of gaming can bring players closer together; it doesn’t have to tear them apart. Plus, these leadership and team-building skills do not only have to be used in gaming. Once these skills have been developed, they can be applied to all the different areas of a person’s life.

As was noted by Peter Grinspoon, in his article on the Harvard Health Publishing website, the first video game was created by the physicist William Higinbotham. Video games have been a favorite of young people since their creation in 1958 and have been under frequent prosecution for their negative effects. While playing too many video games can be harmful, so can too much of anything. The excessive use or practice of anything can result in negative consequences for the individual. According to an article by Suzzane Kantra, published in USA Today, “According to research at the University of Rochester, people who played action-based games made decisions 25% faster than others, without sacrificing accuracy, and can pay attention to more things at once.” (Techlicious). This demonstrates that the healthy inclusion of video games into a person’s daily life can actually improve a person, not harm them. When played responsibly, video games can have a multitude of positive effects in both the virtual and physical world. Playing relaxing games can also result in a reduction of stress. Thank you for reading this article and I hope that you will consider healthily integrating gaming into your daily life, and if you are already a gamer, congratulations! You’ve been bettering yourself and having a great time doing it, well done!

Video games, especially ones with a low intensity level can also be great stress relievers. Here are a few of my stress-relieving video game recommendations!

  • Stardew Valley: Stardew Valley is a very low pressure game, and it allows you to build meaningful friendships and relationships with non-player characters (NPCs). 
  • Animal Crossing New Horizons: Animal Crossing New Horizons is an amazing slow-paced game that allows you to design your own island, complete fun tasks, and build friendships with animal villagers that call your island home. The game also has the option to play with your friends if you know their island’s name and other information.  
  • Pokémon: Legends of Arceus: Pokémon: Legends of Arceus allows you to build meaningful friendships with your Pokémon, animal companions that have superpowers. A lot of the Pokémon video games are more on the intense side as they require a lot of battling and focus. While Legends of Arceus is not different in the fact that it requires battling, you have the option to restart boss battles with saved progress from the last time you fought, as long as you select this option directly after you have lost the battle. 

Citations

‌Greitemeyer, Tobias, et al. “Playing Prosocial Video Games Increases Empathy and Decreases Schadenfreude.” Emotion, vol. 10, no. 6, 2010, pp. 796–802, 10.1037/a0020194. Accessed 15 Sept., 2022.

Grinspoon, Peter. “The Health Effects of Too Much Gaming.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, 22 Dec. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-effects-of-too-much-gaming-2020122221645. Accessed 14 Sept., 2022.

Langston, Jennifer. “Parents Who Play Pokémon GO€™ With Kids: €˜It Wasn’€™t Really About the Pokémon€™.” UW News, 28 Mar. 2017, www.washington.edu/news/2017/03/28/parents-who-play-Pokémon-go-with-kids-it-wasnt-really-about-the-Pokémon. Accessed 16 Sept., 2022. 

Techlicious, Suzanne Kantra. “Yes, Video Games Can Be Good for Kids.” USA TODAY, 2 Dec. 2012, www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2012/12/01/video-games-can-be-good-for-kids/1736649/. Accessed 15 Sept., 2022. 

‌Tretkoff, Ernie. “October 1958: Physicist Invents First Video Game.” Www.aps.org, Oct. 2008, www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200810/physicshistory.cfm#:~:text=In%20October%201958%2C%20Physicist%20William. Accessed 14 Sept., 2022.

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