Benefits of Videogames

The following is based on the book, SuperBetter, by Jane McGonigal. 

In 2014, American Psychologist published an analysis of the findings of 70 scientific studies of the effects of videogames. These are some of the benefits they noted.

Cognitive Benefits
Individuals who frequently play fast-paced action videogames such as Call of Duty, Forza, and Grand Theft Auto enjoy the following cognitive benefits:

  • Improved visual attention and spatial intelligence skills which predict higher achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Faster and more accurate decision making in a high-stress and time-sensitive context.
  • Improved ability to track multiple streams of information simultaneously, up to three times as much information as in infrequent game players.
  • More efficient neuroprocessing generally – the brain uses fewer resources during difficult tasks.

Concrete Problem-Solving Skills
Strategic games such as StarCraft, Mass Effect, and FInal Fantasy also improve concrete problem-solving skills that predict academic success and higher achievement in daily life. These benefits include:

  • More effective information gathering.
  • Faster and more accurate evaluation of options.
  • Stronger ability to formulate and follow strategic plans.
  • Greater flexibility in generating alternative strategies or goals.

All genres of videogames have been linked to greater creativity. Kids who spend more time playing games, including games with violent content, score higher on tests of creativity that involve storytelling, drawing, and problem solving.

Emotional Benefits
Playing videogames helps change your mood and improve your emotional state, particularly puzzle games such as Angry Birds and Bejewelled and platform games such as Super Mario. Playing your favorite games gives you the power to:

  • Improve mood immediately.
  • Ward off anxiety
  • Experience more frequent positive emotions, such as delight, curiosity, surprise, pride, wonder, and contentment.

Manage Difficult Emotions
Videogames also help you learn to manage difficult emotions. This is especially true of very challenging, scary, or emotionally intense games such as BioShock, Resident Evil, and Silent Hill. Frequent players of these games become:

  • Better able to deal with frustration and anxiety in high pressure situations
  • More skillful at controlling extreme emotions like fear and anger.

Social Benefits
People who frequently play team-based games, such as Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Team Fortress, show

  • Stronger cooperative mindsets in daily life.
  • Improved communication and collaboration skills.

Leadership Skills
People who frequently play games that require them to organize groups and lead others in like-minded efforts, such as Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, are:

  • Better leaders.
  • More effective motivators.
  • More likely to engage in civic behavior such as volunteering and raising money for charity.

Jane McGonigal’s books, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and SuperBetter, are both wonderful and indispensable books for parents of videogamers. They will help you learn to not only appreciate videogames, but to most effectively support your gamer in getting the most benefits and avoiding the potential negatives of gaming.

From the Amazon review of Reality is Broken: “In this groundbreaking book, she shows how we can leverage the power of games to fix what is wrong with the real world-from social problems like depression and obesity to global issues like poverty and climate change-and introduces us to cutting-edge games that are already changing the business, education, and nonprofit worlds.”

SuperBetter is in two parts – the first half contains a new analysis and overview of the benefits of videogames and, especially, how to help yourself or gamers you love to reap the benefits of gaming and the second half is all about how to introduce elements and characteristics of gaming into your nongaming life to overcome challenges and achieve goals. As Felicia Day says: “SuperBetter is impeccably researched, extremely accessible, and sure to inspire gamers and non-gamers to adopt gameful techniques into their day-to-day lives.”

Clicking on the book images above takes you straight to Amazon where you can buy the books, and a small percentage of your purchase will help me continue to provide support to homeschooling parents.


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