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by Contributor

Photo: RickSp, Pixabay, License

(Sep. 21, 2020) — With the increasing popularity of video games and more time spent on them, do you wonder what you might gain from them? How can they be taken further?

Video games have become an increasingly popular form of entertainment over the years. The industry took off and entered the mainstream with the advent of smartphone gaming. With a device that fits in our pockets and the ability to quickly download and install games over the internet, the whole experience has become a seamless form of leisure.

Not only do more people play games overall, but they also spend more time gaming, over seven hours a week, on average. That’s almost like logging an extra shift at work. Of course, that time is spent doing something fun, but upon realizing how many hours they devote to games, people may feel like they need to justify that time investment.

From that perspective, here are some lessons that video games can teach us and other ways they can improve or enrich our lives.

Playing boosts cognition

It’s easy to see how some video games can boost your intelligence. The educational game is a genre of its own, and you have classic puzzles like Tetris and virtual versions of traditional board games. These are familiar to us; we don’t feel guilty about playing them. We know that on some level, they help our minds stay sharp.

But a lot of the most popular games fall outside the educational or puzzle genre. Sure, Minecraft lets you get creative, but what about the rest? Games like Fortnite pit players against each other in a battle for survival. Call of Duty is a first-person shooter based on a ‘save the country’ premise.

It’s a little harder to see how these unfamiliar scenarios can help improve our skills. Most of us don’t deal with them in real life. And simulators, such as the virtual NBA or NFL titles, don’t offer the physical benefits of playing the actual sports.

When in doubt, take it from science. Research by the American Psychological Association indicates that many video games, including violent titles, offer numerous cognitive benefits. Playing shooters, in particular, can strengthen spatial skills, reasoning, memory, and perception. Various other games also help improve problem-solving and creativity.

All-around improvements

Even more importantly, video games can help improve your attitude and performance in the big picture. As a leisure activity, you already know that gaming can help de-stress. But video games can also give you a boost in emotional resilience by allowing you to bounce back from failure.

Gaming allows the player to explore an environment in which it’s safe to fail. In real life, big companies set up their insurance with the help of a captive insurance attorney to manage risks. Video games put this risk mitigation in the hands of an individual; you can be as creative as you want, exploring alternative paths to achieve goals. This approach fosters innovation, which is highly sought after in the modern workplace.

Finally, despite the stereotype of the gamer as a lonely, socially inept introvert, today’s games are highly social activities. We learn to cooperate and coordinate, making decisions at high speed, even when our teammates are people we’ve never met in person. And all of this takes place across the communication barriers that the Internet creates. In a world that’s adjusting to widespread remote working arrangements, gaming provides you with a fun way to practice communication and collaboration.

Better gaming choices

From violent shooters to children’s puzzle games, we can derive many benefits from our playing time. But it’s critical to note that we can still do better in many ways.

Games are addictive because they give you a sense of progress, but while some games continue to increase in difficulty, others merely present the same challenge in a different form. Playing a game that improves something you’re already good at is probably going to lead to diminishing returns.

Video game design also tends to reinforce values, skills, and attitudes that are less relevant in today’s world. Social games often organize players into clans, but tribalism involves castigating the “other.” It’s hardly the sort of behavior we need to emphasize further in a world moving towards tolerance and diversity.

You don’t have to feel guilty about spending seven hours a week playing games. It’s vital to have some way of releasing your anxiety and feeling positive, which games can do even in short sessions.

But you can be more discerning when it comes to the games you play. Try to pick up titles that you wouldn’t normally consider playing. Read reviews that give you an idea of how a new game might be better or different than your staple fare. You’ll reward yourself with a more diverse overall learning experience.

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