Seven reasons playing video games is good for you
In Game Changer: Fortnite on 4, Kevin Fong investigates the meteoric success of the multiplayer video game Fortnite. The gaming industry is the biggest entertainment platform in the world, but if you’re not yet a convert, then here are seven reasons you should be.
1. Gaming is sociable
The days of playing a single-player shooter alone in your parents’ basement are long gone. At any one time there are three million Fortnite players playing together online. In 2014, Pew Research Center reported that over a third of teenagers had made new friends while playing networked multiplayer games. In a world that is increasingly globally connected and where more of us feel lonely, video games are the new universal language.
2. You can make a lot of money
Competitive video gamers have arguably become the newest category of overpaid sports star. By entering an eSports tournament (perhaps after training at one of the many universities currently offering eSports scholarships), you could win big. Games such as Call of Duty, League of Legends and Dota 2 routinely have tournament prize pools amounting to over a million dollars. Fortnite recently upped the ante, announcing that their total prize pool for 2018 would be worth $100 million (£78 million). It’s perhaps unsurprising that legendary Fortnite gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, at 26 years old, reportedly takes home half a million dollars every month.
3. You can learn valuable life skills
Joshua Buchanan, Ashland University’s eSports coach says that “to get good at Fortnite you have to be creative, you have to have good critical thinking skills, you have to have good communication skills”. Even if you aren’t going to quit your job and become a pro gamer, it seems that video games’ emphasis on problem-solving and 3D movement could help you develop essential life skills. According to BBC iWonder, German neuroscientists have shown that playing Super Mario 64 leads to the growth in areas of children’s brains responsible for planning ahead, spatial navigation and motor skills.
The problem-solving elements of video games can help players overcome depression and anxiety.
4. Games can help fight mental illness
Gamers have claimed that the problem-solving elements of video games can help players overcome depression and anxiety. Writing for Slate.com, games designer Jane McGonigal called video games “the neurological opposite of depression” for the way their goal-oriented structure helps build mental resilience. In an article for BBC Three, Josh Pappenheim also argues for the life-affirming elements of games, crediting them with assuring him his problems were solvable and giving him the impetus to seek professional help for his anxiety.
5. They can improve your eyesight
Gaming is an undeniably visual medium, and the intense ocular focus required can have its benefits. BBC iWonder reported that studies in Canada have shown that after 10 hours of gaming over a period of a month, vision in young players had markedly improved.
6. They can help kids mature
Oxford University Psychology Professor Andrew Przybylski says that video games teach children valuable lessons about self-regulation. He argues that the addictive quality of video games means that “moderating screen time and fitting games into your day-to-day life is really good practise for being an adult”.
7. They won’t turn you into a psychopath
Despite widespread fears that video games normalise violence and reduce empathy, there is pretty compelling evidence that gaming will not turn you into a psychopath. It was widely reported that a major 2017 study by the Hannover Medical School showed no correlation between playing gory video games and a reduction in empathy. For several months experts measured the brain signals of participants who regularly played violent video games, noting that their neural response to provocative images was no different from those who played no games at all.