There are many instances that I come across where gamers and video games in general get a bad rap. Much of it can be attributed to stereotypes, misconceptions, and ignorance about what video games are about and the interactive entertainment that they provide. I use the word “interactive” because gaming isn’t a form of entertainment where the consumer passively sits and watches something. It is a highly engaging and participatory activity that has a lot more going on than many people think. Psychologists have been studying the effects of gaming for years and through their research have brought forward the notion that there is a wide range of benefits to gaming. It’s just that some people only wish to focus on negative and extreme cases involving gaming and are quick to jump to highly unfavorable conclusions.
Because of my gaming interests, I have all sorts of videos regarding gaming come up in my YouTube feed regularly from gameplay videos and reviews to influencers that equate gamers to “losers” and other content creators that spend time criticizing the very activity of gaming. Much of the negative views revolve around people who aren’t getting the attention they desire from their partner, not understanding what draws people to gaming in the first place, or gamers who have an unhealthy addiction to the point that they don’t do anything else. These perspectives tend to lack objectivity and tend to be uninformed.
The purpose of this post is to stick up for gamers and the gaming community. I’ve met people in my life that enjoyed gaming but gave it up because they were convinced by other people that playing video games was immature, stupid, and a waste of time. Yet, according to psychologists, video games are not just about fun or entertainment. Dr. Peter Gray has written extensively about the benefits of video games, pointing out that they can enhance logical, literary, executive, and social skills. Gaming has been proven by research to improve brain function and cognitive ability.
After I had major surgery in 2019 that went very rough for me, I was at home physically weak with a clouded mind. It was very hard for me to focus on anything for a time. As I was recovering, I started to play video games again and it was very frustrating at first. Imagine having more than three decades of gaming experience and then dying in games like a gaming neophyte. But persevering through that worked wonders for my mind, and I went from those earlier frustrations to passing more games in 2019 than I had beaten in years. It was gaming that sharpened my mind and got me to the point where I was able to read books that were hundreds of pages and even start this blog in 2020. So I am living proof of how gaming can stimulate and sharpen a person’s mind.
The idea that successful and intelligent people don’t play video games is highly misinformed. Actor Henry Cavill, known for his starring roles as Superman in the DC Comics movies and Geralt in Netflix’s The Witcher series, is very outspoken about how much he loves playing Total War: Warhammer 2. The game is a very popular fantasy strategy title within the Warhammer universe that requires a tremendous amount of planning, management, and battle strategy to complete it.
Former women’s UFC and WWE champion Ronda Rousey is known to be an avid gamer with her YouTube Channel being full of gaming videos. In the world of mixed martial arts, she is considered to be the most successful female of all time. Before beginning her MMA career, she won the bronze medal in women’s judo at the 2008 Olympic Games, becoming the first American to win a medal in women’s judo. She has also appeared in several films and television shows. High achieving, high profile, and highly successful people are indeed part of the gaming community.
Speaking of high achieving, various news sites were reporting nearly 20 years ago about how surgeons that played video games a minimum of three hours a week outperformed their peers who didn’t play video games at all. If you do a Google search on video games and the United States military, you will find there is a tight connection between the two. Gaming is being used as a simulation tool in many fields to improve performance.
At the end of it all, gaming is a fun activity with a plethora of benefits to it. Along with everything mentioned in the previous paragraphs, one positive way gaming has served me personally is being an outlet to relieve stress. Video games are the reason why I didn’t go insane in college when I was taking an average of 16 units and also working a part-time job. It was the two hours to three hours that I played when I got home that allowed me to unwind and rejuvenate for the next day. Gaming also aided me tremendously during my recovery from surgery.
So gamers, we have something very good with our video games and an interest that we can both be proud of and enhance ourselves. How has gaming benefited you?