How many times have you heard negative comments about your favorite hobby? It seems like the naysayers are convinced that games are too violent, that gaming is turning our brains into mush, that it’s a waste of time, or alternatively, that it’s an immature hobby that only children like.
Well, what if we told you that’s nothing but misinformation?
Statistics don’t lie: it’s not just children playing games – in fact, the average gamer is 34 years old. And not only that, but in reality, gaming can be not only an enjoyable pastime, but a totally healthy and helpful one. Here are 5 reasons why gaming is actually a really great hobby!
1. It Stimulates Creativity
Creativity is an essential skill not only for children, but also for adults. Are you aware of how much of our daily lives and actual jobs rely almost entirely on creativity? You may think you’re not using it but think again – even the driest field in the world requires some creativity in the way it operates. Creative playtime is also essential for fostering intimacy in relationships, and it can even be a key aspect in preventing a future tendency towards crime in certain individuals.
With the extensive selection of games at our disposal, some of them present very innovative and creative concepts. It’s not all mindless shooting (although those provide their own beneficial effects, we’ll talk about those more in a second), but there are actually numerous games out there that really put your creativity to the test.
Here’s why: We’re not just talking about playing God in The Sims and flexing your interior design muscle, but also about games that challenge you to think outside the box and solve situations in creative and unusual ways. Kind of like virtual escape rooms – they involve clues, mysteries, logical mini-games, and all sorts of other aspects that you can play out in a safe, virtual environment. That encourages you to think creatively more often, which translates to real-life tasks, as well.
2. It Helps You Focus
One of the major issues facing younger generations now is their apparent lack of focus and increasingly short attention span. We’ve got screens on-the-go and everything feeds into that need for instant gratification that we have. Well, everything except gaming, actually.
You see, gaming is one of the few things that still requires you to focus fully at the task at hand. You can’t scroll through your phone, and you can’t half-pay attention. It requires you to be completely immersed in the world presented to you, and your brain needs to work to solve the puzzle that it’s being given.
Here’s why: Gaming, in general, solicits your attention like no other, and you have to focus, because otherwise, you can’t get ahead. It’s a tough skill to re-learn, once you’ve fallen off the wagon, but it’s not impossible, and gaming can help with that. Even one hour of playing a game can increase your ability to focus.
3. It Teaches You Problem-Solving Skills
This is a big one – gaming is actually a major way in which you can learn, improve, and practice your problem-solving skills. And this is another one of those things that you use every single day, in a variety of different scenarios, and you don’t even realize it. It comes in handy in everyday life, as well as in the workplace. Believe it or not, problem-solving is a real skill, and an important job in the real world, so you might as well flex that muscle.
Problem-solving requires logic, critical thinking, deduction skills, and a host of other skills that you slowly lose as you grow older, but that you can regain – or keep fresh – by allowing yourself the indulgence of playing your favorite game for an hour or two every week.
Here’s why: You get to do things repeatedly, learn from mistakes, try to solve things in different ways and apply new techniques to what you’ve already tried. Think of it as practicing problem-solving skills in a low-stakes environment, but that actually ends up helping you in real life.
4. It Helps Train Your Reflexes and Hand-Eye Coordination
Told you we’d be talking about shooters in just a minute. Okay, so these are the ones that get the worst reputation for being violent, dangerous, for encouraging unhealthy tendencies in children, impacting mental health, and they have all sorts of other fear-mongering associations.
Reality looks quite a bit different, actually. Not only is there no real reason to believe that there is any correlation between first-person-shooter games and violent tendencies in the individual who is playing, but these kinds of games are actually an excellent way to train your reflexes and improve hand-eye coordination.
Here’s why: In a game like this, you’ve got to be in an alert state at all times, because you never know when the enemy is going to come out from around the corner and start shooting at you. So, you have to be prepared to spot the enemy, and shoot them before they shoot you. Your reflexes have to be fast, but they also have to be smart: you don’t want to shoot at the wrong guy, especially if they’re your teammate.
5. It Increases Brain Flexibility
Brain flexibility is one of those use-it-or-lose-it things, so it needs to be trained and practiced. And you know what’s a great way to do that? Video games! Strategy games, to be precise. A study was able to demonstrate that strategy games, specifically, can improve this kind of cognitive flexibility and help you even with everyday tasks, especially ones where you need to multi-task or switch from one thing to another.
Here’s why: It turns out that video games that rely on flexing your strategic muscle also train the part of the brain that is in charge of that switch, as well as creative problem solving. This type of cognitive flexibility degrades over time, so it’s great to have something that can counteract that, regardless of age.
What’s the Bottom Line?
In conclusion, don’t listen to the detractors – gaming is a perfectly appropriate hobby, and one that can really help you self-improve, actually! Playtime is an integral part of our development as human beings, and that doesn’t just stop when we reach adulthood. Gaming can teach us a lot of different skills and give our brains a much-needed workout, so keep doing what you love and developing important skills at the same time.