Top 10 (Proven) Health Benefits of Video Games Video Games
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Top 10 (Proven) Health Benefits of Video Games

The best reasons to play video games may not include sitting down in front of a TV or computer screen for the health benefits, but there are some health benefits to playing video games that many video game enthusiasts aren't aware of. Most gamers play games for one reason: because they're fun. The things that makes us happy in life are always worth indulging in; we only get one life and we should enjoy it as much as we can, but there are those who claim that gaming is bad for us.

What are the health benefits of video games? Whether they claim games are making us anti-social, violent or just plain fat, the mainstream media loves to demonize games and make us feel guilty about playing. The truth though is that there are many legitimate health benefits to our hobby, and here are a few of them.

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  1. 1

    Pain Relief

    It’s certainly painful where you’re on a 24 kill streak and get sneakily taken out by some camping mofo, or when you lose online to some racist, sexist, homophobic moron on Xbox live. Games can also help relieve pain as well as inflict it though.

    For those suffering from depression or another mental disorder, video games offer a way for them to relax and cope with the pain during the wee hours of the night when it's hard to turn off their brains. Video games are also reported to help those suffering from chronic pain because it distracts them and reportedly builds up their pain tolerance.

    Of particular interest is the recent work done with virtual reality games. For those that don’t remember the early 90’s, virtual reality was a stupid pair of goggles you put on your head that we all thought would make you enter a game world like in The Matrix, but actually made you feel sick and bump into things. Nonetheless Jeffrey I. Gold, Ph.D. said "Virtual reality produces a modulating effect that is endogenous, so the analgesic influence is not simply a result of distraction but may also impact how the brain responds to painful stimuli." 

    That’s science-talk for "totally kicks pain's ass."

    Games That Can Help:
    Virtual Reality
    Virtual Boy games *sn****r*

  2. 2

    Weight loss

    While formerly a purely sedentary pastime, video games have recently become the equivalent of the angry drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. They bark instructions at us such as: "Jump," "Run on the spot," "Sing, "Dance," "Do press ups," "Play drums," "Stretch," and "Throw a controller into a flat screen TV." And how do we react to these instructions? We obey them, of course! Like we do with any Space Commander asking us to wipe out a race of insectoid bio-aliens, or an Elven lord asking us to free the Kingdom of Nonsensia, we, as gamers, are programmed to do as we are told.

    The benefit of this unthinking obedience is that it can make us engage in positive activities. We follow instructions so well that we will even leave the comfortable womb of our sofa ass-groove and physically sweat. We will exercise, real exercise, if incentivized to do it by a game. Decades of TV documentaries have warned us about the dangers of heart disease, but it's games like "Dance Central," "Warioware Smooth Moves," and "Wii Fit" that have actually make us use our atrophied limbs for something other than shoveling food and lifting a remote. Sure, we don’t all play these games, but the people who do (and who take them seriously) see real world benefits. You know, little benefits, like living ten years longer.

    Games That Can Help:
    Wii Fit
    Dance Central
    Rockband (drums)

  3. 3

    Increased Self-Esteem

    It would be hard to imagine anyone who managed to improve their physical condition through gaming wouldn’t also see an increase in their self esteem. If you’re a 200 pound couch gorilla and "Wii Fit" helped you slim down enough to buy clothes from a non-specialist store, then it’s a fair bet that you probably feel a whole lot better about yourself.

    But gaming self esteem benefits can come from more than just physical improvement. In her book, Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal highlights several key studies showing that gaming actively makes us better people by raising our self esteem.

    In her own case, McGonigal was able to get over crippling neurological and emotional problems by making a game out of her own recovery. She has gone on to proselytize the benefits of social and team work in games, making us all better at communicating, working together, and developing our confidence and self esteem. Sure, she then went on to popularize the truly awful term "gameification," but at least she’s giving us all a good excuse when our moms/partners/wives/starving pets tell us we play too many games. We’re not just playing games, we’re re-establishing our self worth.... by shooting dudes in the face.

    Games That Can Help:
    MMORPG's
    Wii Fit
    Dance Central
    Modern Warfare

  4. 4

    Fitness

    The only problem with the explosion of exercise games is the horrible terms that have been coined by researchers to describe them. I mean, "exergaming," and "exertainment?" Seriously?

    Despite the icky-ness of these terms, games such as "Wii Fit" have made it semi-feasible to become fit and healthy without having to venture outside. This is a huge benefit to gamers who stereotypically fear the things that exist in the outside world like sunlight, human interaction, and those confusing but intriguing individuals we know as "females." 

    Games That Can Help:
    Wii Fit
    My Fitness Coach
    EA Sports Active

  5. 5

    Improved Social Skills

    I know, I know. Bear with me.

    Gamers are introverted loners who can’t communicate with the outside world, right? They’re locked up in dark bedrooms and talk in a series of muffled grunts and snorts like mindless animals connected to soulless machines. They’re like the humans in pods in The Matrix, but with less weird pink liquid (most of the time).

    Apparently... not.

    In 2008, a Swedish researcher performed a social experiment where they used "World of Warcraft" in all of their lessons with a group of students for a whole year. These 15-year-olds were "under-motivated" and were the poorest performing students in that year. By using "WOW," they were taught about politics using proportional representation to vote on where and when they would perform in-game raids. They used mathematical formulae to determine the best DPS (damage per second) for their character builds, and they studied economics through the in-game gold markets.

    Most importantly however, the researchers noted how the students who were often loners or belonged to very small social groups got to know one another better. Their grades improved markedly, but they saw an even larger increase in their communication skills. These lonely and disenfranchised young men and women learned how to talk to each other as well as how to talk to strangers online. What years of school and formal classes had failed to achieve, they attained through gaming.

    Just goes to show, there’s more to World of Warcraft than slaying orcs.

    Games That Can Help:
    World of Warcraft
    Eve Online
    Rift
    Age of Conan

  6. 6

    Improved Dexterity

    Did you think all that time you spent getting incredibly frustrated with "Trauma Centre" on the Wii or DS was wasted? Well, it turns out that surgery games could be more beneficial than you think.

    For surgeons, video game play allows them to opportunity to improve their dexterity, which means less mistakes in the operating room. A study conducted with laparascopic surgeons found that those who played video games to improve dexterity were 27 percent faster and made 37 percent less errors than those who don't partake in a little video game action.

    So while playing a few hours on the Wii certainly doesn’t qualify you to remove your cousins appendix, you should still appreciate how games may be the difference between a successful operation and a.... well, a dead dude. If you have a surgeon who makes 37 percent less errors, that’s a lot less dead dudes, and if you’re one of the non-dead ones, then you could say a video game saved your life.

    So next time you’ve got a choice between two surgeons to open you up and mess with your innards, check which one has the highest gamerscore first!

    Games That Can Help:
    Trauma Center
    Heavy Rain
    Cooking Mama

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