Has anyone ever told you that gaming is bad for you? It doesn't have to be - and here's why.

Video Games Are Good For Everyone

Has anyone ever told you that gaming is bad for you? It doesn't have to be - and here's why.
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There’s a commonly-held view that video games are bad for you in a variety of ways – they lead to violence, a lack of empathy, and even obesity – and that they could not possibly have any redeeming qualities.

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The truth is, however, that while some studies have shown some of the above to be true, video games can be good for everyone. Here are just a few ways that video games actually benefit us all.

Gaming Is Good For Your Health

Especially your mental health. Recent studies have shown that gaming can actually relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and that up to 70% of gamers play with at least one friend, dispelling the myth of the socially-isolated gamer.

You probably never thought your complicated surgery was anything like a video game – well, guess again.

Not good enough? Gaming also improves manual dexterity – for your surgeon. Does your surgeon play Mortal Kombat X or Destiny? A 2004 study concluded that surgeons who play video games perform laproscopic surgeries faster and with fewer mistakes than their non-gaming colleagues.

Gaming Makes You Smarter

While you may be thinking that puzzlers or RPGs are solely responsible for any increase in brain power you might get from gaming, you’d be wrong. A 2013 meta-analysis concluded that gamers who play first-person shooters show an increased ability to think about objects in three dimensions; this improved spatial reasoning can have implications for a variety of careers in engineering, the sciences, technology and mathematics.

Don’t think Portal and other puzzlers are out of the running, though – many game genres, including and especially puzzlers, help us problem-solve better. MMOs also promote problem-solving as a group – collaboration being an important life skill, this makes your raids with your World of Warcraft guilds that much more significant.

Gamers Are Socially Conscious

 We’ve all heard the myth of the socially-isolated gamer: awkward and obese and living in his mother’s basement well into his 30’s. Not exactly your picture of an upstanding citizen. We also know this image isn’t even close to accurate. Aside from the the fact that gamers are incredibly social, they’re also socially conscious.

Gamers often raise money for various causes doing what they love most – playing games.

Charities like Extra Life and Play Live, St. Jude Hospitals’ collaboration with Gamestop and Twitch, bring gamers together to play games and raise money for children with cancer; Child’s Play calls upon gamers to raise money for children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters. Able Gamers raises money to improve the lives of disabled gamers through video games.

Even with controversies like #GamerGate arising from gamer activism, gamers still seem to come out on top when it comes to showing a higher social consciousness – just last year, gamer Lo Ping took #GamerGate as an opportunity to raise money for suicide prevention. The list of gamer-driven charities goes on and on.

Moderation is the Key

The next time you hear someone bring up the negative aspects of gaming, know that while they may not be entirely wrong, neither are you. We all benefit from gaming in some way, if only through the improved health and well-being of those we care about who do love gaming. At the end of the day, the key is moderation. You can have too much of a good thing – but you can have too little of it, too.

What ways do you keep gaming both fun and healthy for you? Let us know in the comments.

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Image of Jessa Rittenhouse
Jessa Rittenhouse
Jessa wears a lot of hats - anthropology graduate, mother, obsessive book nerd, writer of both fiction and non-fiction - but her favorite hat is that of the gamer - a hat she's worn since owning an Atari was a "big deal."