Science Says Gaming IS Beneficial

Despite what some people might think, video games can actually be good for your brain. Not only can playing games be a lot of fun whether you play alone or with friends, but over the past few years, research has suggested that there are actually plenty of scientific benefits to playing video games. Here’s what science has to say about gaming. 

Improve Memory

If you want an excuse to play at, then you might want to consider that it could help to keep your memory strong over time. In 2015, a study in The Journal of Neuroscience found that video games can provide your brain with meaningful stimulation, which can in turn improve your memory. In the study, researchers from the University of California split the participants into three groups. One group played Angry Birds, and another played Super Mario 3D World for two weeks, while a control group didn’t play any games. The group that played Mario did better on follow-up memory tasks. 

Reduce Trauma Impact

In Oxford, UK, in 2016, 37 patients that arrived to be treated at hospital after a car accident were randomly selected to play Tetris for 20 minutes. Compared to another group of 34 patients that did not play, the study found that the patients who played Tetris suffered less flashbacks to the traumatic accident. The research was published in 2017 in Molecular Psychiatry, concluding that a brief intervention with this type of game could improve the mental health of people who have experienced trauma.

Pain Relief

If you want to play video games next time you are taking a day off work sick, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t as studies have found that gaming could actually be good pain relief. In 2012, a literature review in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that across almost forty studies, video games improved the health outcome of almost two hundred patients, both physically and psychologically. This supported further research from 2010 that was presented at a conference for the American Pain Society, which found that playing video games, particularly when playing in virtual reality, was effective at reducing pain or anxiety caused by medical procedures or chronic illness. 

Increased Brain Matter

In Molecular Psychiatry, a 2014 study conducted by researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that the size of brain regions was increased in people who played Super Mario 64. This specifically included the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory formation, fine motor skills, strategic planning, and spatial orientation. After playing the game for thirty minutes per day for two months, participants had increased grey matter in the right prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus, and cerebellum compared to the control group that did not play any games for the duration of the study. 

Video games aren’t just a way to have fun – they can also be surprisingly good at improving the health of your brain in various different ways. Plus, video games can also help with pain relief by taking your mind off it. 

Nakoa Davis