Total Nerd The Top 10 (Proven) Health Benefits of Video Games  

Tom Welsh
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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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Improved Social Skills

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Video: YouTube

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
Age of Conan

Improved Dexterity

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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

Stress Relief

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And speaking of shooting dudes in the face, doesn’t it feel good! Whether it’s the satisfaction of blowing guys away in "Modern Warfare" or dragon punching Chun Li in "Streetfighter," there’s something visceral and satisfying about games. That feeling of satisfaction is exactly what we need to chase away the stress of modern life.

Whether it’s kids kicking your shins on public transport as their parents look on obliviously or waiting in line for coffee behind someone who must examine every cake in detail before ordering a grande half-fat mocha-choca-lotta-frotha-cino, modern life is inherently stressful. To get us through our worst days we need something to look forward to. When we’re in the office listening to the same dull people tell the same boring stories, we yearn for the chance to topple galactic tyrants, slay dragons as large as mountains, and obliterate enemy combatants with missile launchers... and games let us do that.

A study conducted by PopCap Games found that 88% of people play video games to help alleviate stress. A moment playing one of their excellent titles like "Peggle" or "Plants Vs Zombies" will show you how effective games are at doing just that.

Games That Can Help:
Plants Vs Zombies
Streetfighter 4

Improved Eyesight

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Do you remember when your parents told you not to sit so close to the TV or you would ruin your eyes? Yeah, that was rubbish. The same is true with anyone who says video games damage your eyesight.... well, except maybe for those eye-exploding Nintendo 3DS things.

If you suffer from a lazy eye or have trouble driving at night, video game play may actually help you improve your eyesight. An article published in Nature Neuroscience stated that video games have been known to improve contrast sensitivity.

Ok, so it’s not like playing games will make you have super vision or anything. You won’t develop x-ray vision if you play "Halo" for ten thousand hours. I guess if you play games that much, you probably don’t have a job and ergo, can’t afford an optician... but that’s really no one’s fault but your own.

Games That Can Help:
Anything, really. Maybe a "Dead or Alive" game. Those always do pretty well for my eyes.