The Psychological Rewards of Video Games

The information displayed on this page aims to provide readers and writers with information about the psychological benefits of video games and their psychological appeal to the public. Video games are computer-related technology built for the purpose of entertainment. Since its invention, video games have branched out into many various categories such as strategy, board, action, etc. Its advance into the modern world has made a huge impact into society, with its greatest audience being the youth and adolescents. Video games are an entertaining form of media that cause many psychological benefits. These benefits are directly related to its psychological appeal among the general population. It has also generated an appeal to researchers due to its ability to easily engage and attract individuals, ability to measure performance on various tasks, and its ability to be easily modified and understood [4].

Healthcare Benefits

Healthcare industries and homes all over the world rely on video games for various health reasons. Games have been developed, like Packy and Marlon [4], to aid a patient’s improvement of self-care skills. In a way, it helps them understand their chronic diseases and the doctor’s actions more. This allows the children or adolescent patients to feel informed and comfortable with the doctor and the procedures carried out. Video games “motivate patients” to work with the healthcare team and strive for a healthier body [7]. This increase in motivation is because video games can decrease their stress and depression about their specific disease.

Disabled Children

Video games are used as a tool to increase participation in disabled children during mental therapy sessions. The article “The educational benefit of video games” examines different case studies that depict the correlation between effectiveness of video games on disabled children and adults [4]. The author`s main objective is to investigate special needs groups and to improve on their developmental skills. Most of the studies were designed to diagnose various disabilities by using video games as a way to detect ability levels. The abilities of individuals in skills such as engagement in activities and actions have since improved and helped them to move faster.

Griffith uses his own research and medical case studies to demonstrate how different types of video games have strongly improved the cognitive disorder of participants. The researchers were particularly interested in exploring the effect of video games on individuals. Using video games in treatment has shown that children become more concerned about their own health conditions. An example given by Mark is the use of Packy and Marlon games in treating children with disabilities [4]. When used properly, it can help patients improve their own strength and help them to decrease attention on their disabilities. Video games that help increase edutainment should be incorporated in commercial markets as it helped researchers improve their self-care techniques. Mark makes a point in this article that video games can be very beneficial when used in proper context [4]. Therefore we can conclude that video games can be effective for everyone when used properly (or suitably). Parents can help teach school subjects to disabled children with help of edutainment as the adverse effects of it are relatively small when compared to violent video games.

Griffiths, M. (2002). The educational benefits of video games. Education and Health, 20(3), 47-51.

Mark Griffiths is a psychologist focusing in the field of Gambling Studies And Gambling Addiction. He has received his degree in Bsc in psychology, PhD in psychology. Also, he is a University Professor of Gambling Studies. He has received many awards, few of the awards he has received are : US National Council on Problem Gambling Research (2009) and Royal Society of The Arts Fellow Ship Award(2007).

Cognitive Disorder Healthcare

In this section of the article" The Benefits of Playing Video Games", the author emphasises that the benefits of playing video games are less reviewed in today’s era. To begin with, the author focuses on the debates over benefits versus harms of playing video games. Given each dichotomous pole, there is a mutual agreement that playing video games incorporates new types of thought and behavior. The common perception of video games in society is that they have a negative effect on adolescents, the focus being on how they promote violence. The author in this article illustrates that video games are beneficial for the treatment of cognitive disorders.

Ideology plays a very important role in society today, especially when it comes to video games. It represents actions and also guides behavioural rules. Depending on how well video games are being used, they could benefit society on a variety of levels. Psychologists have come to a conclusion that playing video games can improve a child`s cognitive disorder by playing certain types of video games. According to the American psychologists in the article, there is a new technique that is used for patients with cognitive disorder, known as Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT). CBT is a renowned technique that helps people improve their mental and cognitive functions. In spite of the optimistic results from such therapy, there are certain limitations to what can be overcome by using videogames in CBT [2].

Despite the fact that the normal technique is used particularly for serve cases of cognitive disorder, it includes tasks that are addressed as boring by both youths and adolescents [2]. The author goes on to explain that video games can help therapists make sessions more interesting for the youths and adolescent. The author uses an example using a game called SPARK which was designed to treat depression. Using a specific type of video game makes the treatment more interesting by having the patients focus on something that they are able to engage in. Abstract and high level thinking are a real brain workout and are prevalent in most video games. The skills presented in video games are usually not taught in school. Video games have the potential to be beneficial on many levels.

The more entertaining it is, the better result the treatment can have on patients in developing their abilities. A major drawback of CBT is that it cannot do a perfect job of imparting new knowledge. As author states... they leave a gap between what they know and what they do. [2] Video games can help the patients to reconcile the knowledge with its application because they “provide opportunity to practice new regulatory skills, until they have automatized, canalizing new neural patterns that can lead to generalization outside the game [2].” Another problem with CBT, as outlined in the article, is that the treatment schedules were in conflict with patient’s daily chores. Using video games for mental disorders, this problem can be easily solved as they can be delivered to patients’ houses [2]. Most working class citizens cannot afford therapy sessions, using video games is cheaper solution that makes it reasonable for everyone. At the end of the article, the author states that we must have an ideal to combine established CBT techniques with videogame’s to enhance motivation, increase engagement and practice new skills with more ease.

Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 68. doi: 10.1037/a0034857

Isabela Granic received her PhD in University of Toronto. She completed her undergraduate and graduate work in the city of Toronto. She is currently working as a Professor in the department of Developmental Psychopathology in Radboud University Nijmegen. Isabela's main focus is on her recent research “The Mental Health Benefits of Gaming” on adolescents and children’s.

Adam Lobel is a researcher who is focusing his research on positive socio-emotional benefits of video gaming for children and adolescents across development. He has specialized in social psychology and is researching upon behavioral influence of shame and humiliation. Adam completed his degree in B.S in psychology Brooklyn College (City University of New York) and his PhD in in Radboud University Nijmegen.

Improvements in Mental Healthcare

“Video games have been used in comprehensive programmes to help develop social skills in children and adolescents who are severely retarded or who have sever developmental problems like autism.” [4]

Video games have a significant impact on mental healthcare. Many cases have been made and found that mentally ill individuals are able to excel and learn basic skills from video games. It improves attention skills and impulse control, as well, in attention deficit individuals [4].

Medical Training Benefits

Video games are not only being used by patients, but by medical personnel as well. The simulation feature of some types of video games allows the healthcare team to recognize a specific procedure. Nursing and surgeon games are available within many educational institutes and provide medical students with experience that would otherwise be incredibly difficult or even impossible to attain if done physically within a lab [6].

Fitness Improvements at Home

Many motion-sensing systems create an entertaining and efficient way to exercise at home. Exercising can prevent various types of health issues and is recommended for everyone. Just Dance, Zumba, Wii Fit, etc. are just some examples of fitness games available in the market today.

Rehabilitation Benefits

Similar fitness games used at home can also be used in rehab facilities for physical injuries. A game successfully improved arm control with an adolescent that has Erb’s palsy [4]. This was because playing the video game provided a distraction from the pain of the movement. It also gave the patient motivation to complete the video game’s task and evidently, get better. Not only do video games generate advantageous results with physical rehabilitation, they also create advantages in rehab facilities for people with addictions. Some video games can inform patients about the consequences of their addictions [4] and instructions to overcome it in a crafty and entertaining manner.

Benefits in Educational Development

Video games propose a great potential within the educational field. It is a known fact that children prefer learning with media and video games, as opposed to a lecture or studying from a textbook. This is because children are more engaged in learning experiences when playing educational video games, or edutainment media. By providing elements of interactivity, and allowing users to experience fantasy, curiosity, and challenges within games; the user’s brain can be simulated and will be able to acquire knowledge and learn [4]. In fact, it can help children and adolescents develop, improve, or reinforce many types of skills.

Skill Development

Spatial visualization abilities are proven to increase when playing shooter games such as, Halo 4 or Grand Theft Auto IV [2]. This includes visual processing, mental rotation abilities, and mental manipulations of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects [4]. Shooter games are also proven to increase attention allocation. A recent MRI study shows that the portion of the body associated with attention allocation was less active during a challenging strategic task in recurring gamers, as opposed to people who don’t play video games. This suggests that frequent gamers, specifically those that play shooter games, distribute their attentional resources more efficiently and are able to distinguish irrelevant information more effectively than others [2].

Video games have the potential to help people develop basic skills [4]. Language skills can easily be obtained with interaction games such as Habbo Hotel, Sims, etc. Through communication with characters or with other people, video games help people learn how to give and follow directions, as well as answer questions. It teaches children how to share and carry on discussions within various types of groups. Communication or instructions within games can help children, or people in general, gain basic reading skills as well. Basic math skills can also be acquired through game play by counting scores or through various educational math games that are being featured in Leapfrog or Wii systems.

Other skill improvements include: creativity with games like Minecraft [2], motivation and goal enhancement, development of transferable IT skills [4], and problem-solving skills [7]. A study showed that students who played strategic video games or role-playing games displayed improvements in school grades the following year.

Usage in Educational Settings

Edutainment video games are efficiently being used within educational settings worldwide. They allow students to investigate and manipulate unalterable variables in the world through computerized simulations. Role-playing video games can allow students to gain a new perspective by playing a certain position within the game. Simulation games can also allow students to observe a city or population over extended periods of time within a controlled environment that can be modified. After all observations have been gathered, they can relate their findings to a specific hypothesis or lesson. This allows them to have a better understanding of a system and what is being taught [6].

An abundance of video games are currently available to help children of all ages read, and perform basic problem-solving and mathematical skills online. Some of these programs are accessible within school or public library computers as well. Numerous game companies and systems, specifically the Wii and Leapfrog, are opening up video games to young children. These games are often educational and can be a great learning tool for kids at home.

Improvements in Social Interactions

When you think of the word “GAMER”, automatically the image you see in your mind is a boy with messy hair, dirty, sitting in a dark room with food all over the place. The only light surrounding the room is the brightness from his screen. His eyes are bloodshot, glued to his game. You assume this boy you pictured in your mind, is socially isolated, has no friends, a techno geek and all he does all day is play video games. However, that is not true. It is just a typical stereotype.

In reality, people who play video games are far more social than you think. There are many video games that involve interaction among others whether its cooperative communication or competitive communication (Granic, Lobel, & Engels, 2014) [2]. Most kids these days play video games to belong in their peer group. These games bring people together. One prime example is one of the online games that Facebook promoted.

“Farmville—one of the most popular social networking games on Facebook—hosted over 5 million daily users in 2012” (Gill, 2012). (Granic, et al, 2014) [2].

The simple online game brought people from all over the world and had them interact with each other in this virtual realm. Regardless whether its simple games like Farmville to games like Call of Duty that portrays violence, they all have prosocial benefits.

Video games not only lead to interaction between friends, and strangers but also families are now using video game play as a method of communication with their children. Many studies have proved that video games have promoted positive social behavior between parents and children (Chambers, 2012) [1]. Many parents have recently decided to incorporate game play in their household in order to communicate and spend time with their children. Popular game systems like Wii have put out games that target family as an audience as well. Chambers (2012) found that

“Parents highlight benefits from playing video games together as a family when the games selected emphasize parental monitoring or guidance roles and skills teaching” [1].

This benefits the children in the long run as well due to the positive emphasis parents are putting on video games which will lead them into being more social through the means of video games.

Emotional Benefits

An Escape from Reality

For most people in today's society, video gaming is viewed as a waste of valuable time, but for many it has grown to become a necessity in their daily routine. The fact is, for adolescents, teenagers, young adults and even adults, playing video games has evolved from being simply about scoring points and moving on to the next level, it has become a means to curb emotional distress. The emotional benefits of video games enable gamers to exercise their minds and escape their reality into a virtual world whereby they are in direct control of conquering their own goals through any means necessary. From breaking the laws of gravity, to literally breaking the law, the gamer must struggle to strategically achieve his/her objective. Ultimately, the end result is the attainment of the American dream: fame, fortune, popularity and gratification. What can possibly be more rewarding than that? Especially when achieving the American dream is realistically near impossible. According the Dr. Andrew Przybylski from the University of Rochester, he claims from his own observational study that video gaming both satisfies and fulfills the universal and fundamental emotional needs of gamers of all ages [5]. For example, a simple thing such as the luxury of a cell phone has grown to become a necessity towards making life more convenient and efficient, and in consequence of this technology, we are bombarded with high volumes of phone calls, increased workloads, errands to run, commitments to keep etc. The University of Toronto graduate, Dr. Isabela Granic supports that playing preferred video games increases positive emotions, can promote relaxation and ward off anxiety to the individual [2]. Furthermore, video gaming alleviates and curbs the pressures and emotional distress associated with our ever increasing workloads and day to day responsibilities through providing a window of time to facilitate a psychological escape from reality.

Controversy

According to mainstream thought, video gaming has been associated with violence, bullying, isolation and even crime, just to name a few aspects. According to Dr. Tobias Greitemeyer from the University of Innsbruck, his study supports that excessive amounts of video gaming as well as videogames that incorporate violence diminishes the players perception of humanity [3]. Meaning that excessive amounts of video gaming can influence and alter a person's perception of what they feel is right or wrong, what is acceptable behaviour and what is unacceptable behaviour. It is important to regard that this alteration in the perception of humanity that Dr. Greitemeyer's study uncovered is based on the condition that violent video games are in combination with excessive amounts of time devoted to gaming by the player.

Bibliography
1. Chambers, D. (2012). “Wii play as a family”: the rise in family-centered video gaming. Leisure Studies, 31(1), 69-82. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02614367.2011.568065
2. Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 68. doi: 10.1037/a0034857
3. Greitemeyer, T. (2013). Effects of Playing Video Games on Perceptions of One's Humanity. The Journal of Social Psychology, 153(4), 499-514.
4. Griffiths, M. (2002). The educational benefits of video games. Education and Health, 20(3), 47-48.
5. Przybylski, A., Ryan, R., Rigby, C. (2010). A Motivational Model of Video Game Engagement . Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 154-166.
6. Squire, K. (n.d.). Video games in education. Retrieved from http://doczine.com/bigdata/1/1369989846_0d2af3a0f9/39-squire-ijis.pdf
7. Video games play may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds. (2013, November 25). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/11/video-games.aspx
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