By Charlotte MacDowell
Since the pandemic, people have undeniably turned to playing video games as a way of keeping themselves entertained with their newfound free time. I often found myself sitting in my housemate’s room for hours on end, fascinated with the various games he was playing, despite having previously associated gaming with being unsociable and a waste of time.
Personally, I had never played video games apart from the odd hour or two when I was younger, whether that was playing Just Dance with my friends or Wii Sports with my siblings. However, the multiple lonely lockdowns and self-isolation periods in my household, both at university and at home, led me to try out an entirely new activity.
I wasn’t alone in my fascination, my whole house at University became engrossed in letting hours slip past whilst tapping away. At my family home, I found myself in my 15 year old brothers’ room challenging him to a game of FIFA or simply watching him play with friends.
Playing video games provided him with a way to communicate. With the likes of Discord and online chat meaning, you can talk to friends whilst playing, making for a more enjoyable gaming experience.
Not only was he able to keep in contact with his friends but is continuing to develop his social skills without the need for physical interaction, a benefit that might not be obvious at first glance, especially for a developing teenager.
As with social skills, video games enable users to develop fine motor skills, teamwork and problem solving ability. Some games rely on teamwork, requiring players to work together to achieve a goal, whereas others encourage creativity and an ability to solve problems. Games also improve cognitive abilities such as spatial navigation, verbal reasoning and memory recall.
Watching my brother play Rocket League with two of his friends highlighted the intricate skillset that playing games develops. They worked together against three opponents, requiring strong hand-eye coordination and communication in order to hit, pass, and shoot the ball into the goal. Such skills are traditionally thought to be developed through team sports, yet it’s fascinating how video games seemingly develop these very same skills.
Not only do video games develop a wide array of skills but they also provide a platform for creative expression. All games have a strong element of storytelling which allow players to engage with a predefined narrative, with many allowing users to stray away from the original, creating their own personal journey.
Most importantly, video games provide a much needed break from our busy lives, with there being a proven correlation between playing games and improved mental health.
So, the next time someone tells you to get off your Xbox, Playstation, or Computer, (just like I definitely have done with my housemates, boyfriend and brother) tell them about this article. Tell them all the ways in which gaming actually is incredibly beneficial, both physically and mentally.