Are Online Games Becoming an Integral Part of Mental Health?

Video, computer and online games have in the past suffered a poor reputation in terms of mental health. Gaming has been stereotyped as having a detrimental effect on emotional levels and mental health.

However, this thinking looks to be dramatically changing. New research has made significant findings that show online gaming can boost concentration and general wellbeing.

A recent study by Oxford University discovered that different types of gaming experience can offer a positive boost to mental health. By working with real-time data from two popular games, the academic team assessed the games’ impact on mood, concentration and memory.

The study found that players reported greater wellbeing, as the fun, mental energy and online socialisation provided significant benefits.

Researchers believe they have found significant reasons to believe gameplay can have a significant impact on mental health. By working with major game and software developers for the first time, the Oxford scientific team has combined academic and industry experience.

The findings have helped to shift the discussion on whether gaming can be good for us and our brains.

How Gaming can be Good for the Brain

Gaming requires a degree of concentration when deciding on how to play the game. The effort put in can be seen as a mental work-out; exercising the brain within the gaming sphere and experiencing the benefits.

Manual Dexterity

The link between observing something on screen and then the brain telling the hand to move controller or mouse is a noteworthy element that various enterprises have picked up on.

Many global industries, from the military to professional health services, have seen greater efficiency in dexterity in those who play, compared to those who do not. This is because when gaming payers need to make fast decisions and have a quick reaction time to in-game events.

The relationship between games, virtual simulations and industrial training applications is an ongoing one, with lines continuing to blur. With a huge variety of occupations from hoteliers to firefighters making use of gaming in their training, schedules there is every reason to see the benefits of gameplay everywhere.

Boost to Memory

  • Playing puzzle-based games has been shown to boost memory and cognitive skills.

When playing a game, gamers need to hold all sorts of different information in their minds at any given time. By activating the prefrontal cortex- the part of the brain that deals with memory and problem solving- puzzle games are ideal for providing a mental boost.

Online Gaming Mental Health

Social and Emotional Benefits

  • Online gaming offers the significant bonus of allowing gamers to socialise and interact wherever they are in the world.

The social factor offers a positive effect on players’ emotional levels and balance. In certain types of games such as online roleplaying and virtual world gaming, the social element is integral to the gameplay, as different players discuss in real-time how to progress and carry the story onwards.

This interactive discursive element is an important factor in bringing another positive boost through gameplay.

Online Gaming Mental Health

Stress Relief

  • Playing games helps us to unwind and relax. This is true however they are played. The feeling of achievement when a successful play or a completed mission has been made is a huge reward for time invested.

Escapism is another important part of the gaming process. This is particularly noticeable in games with a strong fantasy element, but it is true in gameplay of all kinds. Taking a break from the stresses of the outside world through play is something that informs lifestyle across the board; taking in all ages and cultures.

Mental Refreshment and Awareness

  • Bingo is a game long known to have a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing.

No longer a game targeted solely for the older players in the gaming community, the positive mental benefits of Bingo ring true for all sorts of people. The need to concentrate on the callers’ numbers and the alertness required to stay focused are all major factors in the game. This, plus the chance to replicate the social element of the bingo hall through chat rooms and messages, help to bolster the appeal of bingo in the online environment. By discovering free bingo without deposit, players can experience a fun and valuable way to offer the brain a workout.

Mental Agility

  • Gaming requires the mental speed to make quick and productive decisions. Players experience overall awareness of being in the game.

The benefits of this are widespread and are an important factor in developing the skills required for project and team management. Playing games might even get you a better job.

Gaming and Mindfulness

  • A mindfulness element is hugely beneficial to all areas of life. The concept of being calmy focused on the present moment could be linked to gameplay of various types.When ‘in the game’, players are firmly in the present, and only focusing on the interactions and results of their decisions. 

Academic study is continuing to progress in this exciting area that has the potential to enhance how everyday people go about their lives.

Gaming is beneficial to mental health in several key areas of cognition, socialising, memory and problem-solving. All areas of wellbeing can be improved through the application of these skills that are improved via online gaming.

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