Let’s face it—videogames are addictive. Once we find a game (or games) we like, we’ll find ourselves sitting in front of our computers or televisions with a bag of chips for hours. And after that, we’ll feel bad about ourselves. Not only did we just finish this family-size bag of chips, but we also just played videogames for hours without a break.
There’s a stigma that paying videogames like that is bad for you, even though the same people who tell you that binge-watch Netflix for ten hours a day. So, do videogames really rot our brains? Do they really make us stupid? Or is playing a challenging game a good way to exercise our brain? Let’s find out.
Why We Play Videogames
No matter what games we play or what system we play them on, we play for an escape. Some of us look for the adventure of an open-world RPG. Others like the restfulness of a quiet simulation game. Maybe you like the thrills of a horror game. Whatever your taste is, we all do it because life gets boring. We need a challenge and escape. And while television gives us that, it doesn’t always suck us in. We’re just out on the bleachers instead of in the middle of the action swinging our sword in the battlefield.
We play videogames because we all want to feel something. There’s something so exciting about the new age of gaming we’re entering. Games are more realistic and interactive. But how bad is this for us?
Why do People Say Videogames are Bad?
Studies show that videogaming can lead to poor posture, for one thing. Unfortunately, many things can lead to poor posture such as consistent computer usage (non-gaming related) or back pain. On the subject, back pain is another issue that videogames can cause. Videogames are also at fire for sleep deprivation, lack of Vitamin D, and obesity. We’ve also all heard the argument that violent videogames make people aggressive and therefore shouldn’t exist.
I think a lot has to be said for the subjectivity of these claims. Most sources say that videogaming in general will have these causes, whereas it’s truer to say that excessive videogaming can have these causes. Many people who play videogames also know how to balance their social life, health, and jobs with gaming. Videogaming becomes a problem when someone is clinically addicted to it.
What Benefits do Videogames Have?
Studies have shown that adults who play videogames for at least 30 minutes a day have seen improvements in memory, spatial navigation, and better motor skills. Specific studies show that daily gaming was increasing brain function in test subjects.
It’s even shown that word games or puzzle games can slow down the effects of aging in elders. People who played these games every day were shown to have less of a chance of developing Alzheimer’s than their non-gaming counterparts. So, fire up DDR. It’s time for a dance-off, grandpa.
And put away your Ibuprofen. Videogames were proven to be just as or more effective than painkillers at reliving chronic pain in patients who experience these symptoms. This is because videogames distract us. Instead of focusing on our pain, we focus on the game we’re playing. If you aren’t experiencing pain, no worries, videogames can actually calm down the effects of anxiety.
Videogames also bring us closer to friends. Everyone can enjoy a racing game with a group or friends or solving an adventure or mystery game with a close friend. Gaming is just another way to get social and enjoy the company of friends and family.
Ways to Be a Healthier Gamer
Since gaming can have some bad side-affects, you should try to do a few things to take care of yourself. Portable exercise bikes are a great way to game and lose a few calories or just get your blood pumping. To avoid a dangerous Vitamin D deficiency, make sure to get out and about or take a supplement every day to ensure that your body stays healthy. Also make sure to watch your posture by sitting in a chair that keeps you upright instead of slumped.
So, are videogames bad for you? Like anything, too much of a good thing is a bad thing and videogames can have a lot of positive effects. Just try not to go overboard in gaming or spending all day everyday slumped over on the couch with a bag of cookies. It’s not good for you. If you game with some sense, however, videogames have many benefits, so next time someone tells you that gaming rotting your brain, you’ll know just how to fire back.