The Good of Gaming

written by Jas Kao on July 20, 2011 in Classic Posts and Special Feature

Video games are notorious for getting the short end of the stick in the media because the perceived negative effects generally get more coverage (even if the effects are unsubstantiated). But if you didn’t know any better, you’d assume all people who play games would turn into murderers, rapists, or thieves. However, in spite of all the coverage of the negative effects of gaming, quite a bit of good can still come out of plopping yourself down in front of a computer or TV and gaming to your heart out.

Making the World a Better Place

Improves Hand Eye Coordination

This one is probably the most obvious of the benefits that can be imparted upon you if you game. Makes sense right? The more you interact with a controller while watching a screen, the better your hand eye coordination gets.

A study done at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City in 2003 had 33 surgeons participate in a Top Gun program that tested their skills at suturing and laparoscopy. It found that, overall, current video-gaming surgeons scored 40% better than non-gaming surgeons.

So what does that mean for you? Playing all those video games is actually HELPING you become a better surgeon.


Gives You BETTER Eyesight

This one seem a bit counter-intuitive to me, mainly because my mom always told me growing up that staring at a computer screen or TV would ruin my eyes. Guess she was wrong?

According to a study done at the University of Rochester, action video games can sharpen your vision up to 20%.  Apparently when playing a game with high action, like Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament, players’ spatial resolution in their vision became more acute in that they could see the figures on an eye chart more clearly. Also, players showed an average increase of 43% in the ability to discern shades of gray, and on average action gamers became 58% better at perceiving fine differences in contrast.

So what I get from this is that the more I play action videos, my eyes will become like that of a hawk.

Soon my vision may rival yours, Mr. Hawk


Improves Cognitive Skills in Older People

Good News Everyone!

When you get old, make sure to play some strategy video games like Starcraft 2 or Rise of Nations. It’ll keep your cognitive functions in pretty good health.

In a study done by the University of Illinois, they tested 40 older adults and had half of them play Rise of Nations. The study showed that the half that played Rise of Nations performed better at switching between tasks, working memory recall, and reasoning.

Well this just gives me another reason to continue gaming into my twilight years.


Games REDUCE Crimes

I linked to an article pertaining to this a while ago in a Weekly Flashback for those of you who remember. The study, titled “Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime” (click the link if you want to read the study) and performed by researchers from Baylor University, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the Center for European Economic Research, showed that there was a correlation between the drop in crime rates and the rise in gaming.

They called it an “incapacitation effect” where instead of going outside and being a hoodlum you stay and inside and are a hoodlum in GTA. So the moral of the story here is to play more video games and you’ll do less crime.

Mainly because you don’t have time to do the crime.


Tetris Could Reduce Trauma

As strange as this study sounds, when you play Tetris right after a traumatic experience, it’ll block the brain from storing painful memories. This study, conducted by psychologists from Oxford University, used 40 healthy volunteers and showed all of them traumatic images. Then after 30 minutes, half of the volunteers played Tetris. The half that played had significantly few flashbacks over the next week than those that did not play.

So, next time you have a traumatic day, go play some Tetris. You’ll feel better.

Making your day far less traumatic

Playing Good (prosocial) Games Can Make You a Better Person

Studies from the University of Sussex and Ludwig-Maximilians-Univeristy found that people who played prosocial games (e.g. Lemmings) were more likely to engage in helpful behavior. The experiment was that the subject would be in a room with the experimenter playing the game when a staged encounter with an angry ex would occur. They found that 10 out of 18 participants who were playing the prosocial game intervened while only 4 out of 18 playing a neutral game (like Tetris but it still has other benefits!: See above) intervened.

Amazing, right? Gaming can make you a better person, granted you play prosocial games.


Other Benefits

Here were a couple of other positive effect that might result from gaming but I couldn’t find the studies to back it up so I leave that up to you, the reader, to decide if they are legit or not. Most of these are from the words of child experts.

-Improved problem solving skills

-Ability to work better with teams


-Improved Memory


-Self Confidence Booster

Have you reaped the benefits of gaming yet? Share with us in the comments!

Also, be sure to check out some of our other “positive effects of gaming” posts, like 6 Ways Games Can Encourage Happiness and How Gaming Makes You More Productive.