Firstly, research has shown that there are certain mental benefits to gaming. Gamers have better hand-eye coordination, keener resistance to distraction, stronger problem-solving skills, and greater sensitivity to peripheral vision than non-gamers. Additionally, with products like the PlayStation Move and Wii, video games aid the development of motor skills by way of full body movement. Far from being exclusively for the lazy members of our population, video games strengthen children’s reasoning, perception, memory, and spatial navigation.
Video games could even include social benefits for gamers. They may, for example, present a topic for discussion and a basis for social bonding. They might also boost a child’s self-esteem if he or she shows an affinity for some video game but struggles in other areas. Leadership skills may also be sharpened while playing a multiplayer game.
Researchers have suggested that video games provide valuable relief from stress. For example, in a study conducted among American teenagers, it was found that over a quarter of young women and a half of young men in the US vent their anger through games such as Grand Theft Auto.
Considerable assistance in physical rehabilitation has been one of the recently discovered advantages of video games. Video games have also provided physical therapy, distraction from discomfort and improvements in disease self-management for patients, who often show substantial progress.
In 1997, author Jessie Herz called attention to the anti-capitalist bias of many researchers by identifying as a benefit what they considered a negative effect. Her notion is simple: studies have shown that aggression and anti-social behaviour are possible effects of regular gaming, but she claims that these can be counted as advantages in a capitalist society.
As is the case with most aspects of life, gaming has its benefits when it is enjoyed in moderation, which is something to consider the next time you receive an article on your Facebook timeline which condemns gaming.
Gamers at this year’s rAge expo. Photos: Ciske van den Heever