10 Reasons Why Gaming Is Good For You

Robert Lee, a professional gamer, quit college after a year at the California State University in Fullerton. He used Twitch to broadcast his gameplay while still attending college and the money started to roll in. Twitch is a network focused on gamers. If viewers find you entertaining and engaging enough, they become your fans, pay monthly subscriptions (or donate) to watch your streaming channel, and voila!…you have monetized yourself by interacting with and serving your fans. Times have changed since those days when players had to wait for StarCraft competitions to be ripped off television on to some website, in order to watch it. Gamers used to spend more on travelling and had negative earnings instead. Now the gaming industry’s growth rate is attested to by the many gamers that can support themselves simply by playing well. “The way I saw it, school was always going to be there, but this opportunity to make money playing video games was not always going to be there,” Lee said. Three years down the road, he is a professional League of Legends player, is part of a 5-member team (the other guys are aged 21 to 26) called compLexity, and making enough to pay for rent, clothes, food and 1 or 2 other luxuries like a sprawling gated community team house in southern California! That’s not to mention the millions of prize money up for grabs in worldwide games tournaments like Dota 2 – prize money: a cool USD5 million. Now who ever said gaming was a bad addiction? Here’s 10 reasons why gaming is good for you.

1. Improve Body Coordination

“Time for body upgrade.”

Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston showed that high school gamers performed better at virtual surgery than medical residents. Three groups of players were asked to replicate surgeries on a robotic surgery machine – high school gamers who played 2 hours of video games daily, college students who played 4 hours daily and a group of medical residents at the university who played sporadically. They were tested on things like the tension they placed on their instruments and overall hand-eye coordination while performing sutures. The high school students came in 1st place, followed by the college students in 2nd place, followed by the residents. On a similar note, Dr Henk ten Cate Hoedemaker uses a game called Underground to fine-tune the skills of keyhole surgeons. Handling adapted controllers that mimic surgery tools, players guide a child and her pet robot out of a mine. Surgeons who perform well in this game world also perform well in the real world of surgery. In a separate study at the Beth Israel Medical Center and the National Institute on Media at Iowa State University, a group of surgeons who played 3 hours of video games weekly saw a 37% drop in errors and was 27% faster during laparoscopic surgery compared to their counterparts who were non-gamers. Participants were tested on motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Surgical trainees now warm up first with a video game in a course called Top Gun, before proceeding to the operating room.

2. Excellent Eye Concentration

“Sometimes blinking is a matter of life or death.”

First-person shooter games trains your eyes in its ability to detect minute changes in the contrast and brightness of an image. As you grow older, you will notice that your eyes will tire out by the end of the day, that is, by nightfall. This makes for poor night vision. It is one of the first visual gifts to go and is why some people opt not to go out for night drives. A University of Rochester study analyzed expert gamers playing Unreal Tournament 2004 and Call Of Duty, and amateur gamers playing The Sims 2. The first-person shooter gamers saw a boost in their contrast sensitivity function. They could better discern subtle changes in the brightness of an image. Locating and aiming at enemies gave the exercise their eye muscles needed to stay sharp. Gamers also had to keep track of multiple moving objects, constantly switching their focus from one section of the screen to another, while staying alert for any other occurring events. Looks like the fountain of youth for eyes has been found!

3. Creative Mind

“Fantasy spurs creativity.”

Many a times players are blown away by the stunning visuals of the game. Which Final Fantasy fan has not gaped in awe at those cutscenes? Inculcating an appreciation for graphics, design and technology – video games inspires creativity. Creative playing too can be had in the game play itself, as with real-time strategy games, in order to beat difficult opponents.

4. Brain Train – Bigger Brains

“Even your brain needs to work out to stay fit.”

Training your brain in areas for spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine hand motor skills has shown a rise in brain matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum. A German study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charite University Medicine St Hedwig-Krankenhaus in Berlin experimented on 23 adults with a mean age of 24 who played 30 minutes of Super Mario 64 daily for 2 months. When compared to a control group of non-players, an MRI measurement of the players’ brains indicated the regional increases as more significant the more the participants wanted to play.

5. Lightning Fast Reflexes

“The faster you are the better.”

With non-stop action and bullets hailing from all sides as you go on your missions, it can get a bit overwhelming with action games. Who? What? Where? Hesitate and you are fragged. Can’t see them? Boom, you are fragged. Too many enemies, too fast? Too bad, you are fragged. The action does not let up, one objective after another. Action games force players to learn to analyze the situation on the fly, amid heavy gunfire whizzing past and enemies popping up unpredictably.

6. Better Motor skills

“Games encourages motor coordination.”

Object control motor skills seemed to be better in children aged 3 to 6 years who played interactive video games like bowling. An average of 1.97 hours weekly was spent playing interactive games and 3.05 hours on non-interactive games. Researchers at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia found that the interactive gamers had better control in skills such as ball throwing, catching and kicking, against those who did not play these games frequently.

7. Because I’m Happy

“Now who doesn’t love to game.”

Yeah, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth! It’s video games after all. Have fun and enjoy! North Caroline State University researchers reported that players felt happy and experienced a sense of well-being, even for the occasional player. Interactive games like Just Dance closes the generation gap and has the potential to foster closer family ties with youngsters playing side by side with adult/older family members. Enjoy a great workout with Wii Fit and Zumba Fitness. Even children can get their dose of daily physical activity. A Boston study reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that middle-school children who played 6 different interactive games was like walking on a treadmill at 3 miles per hour, with 4 of the 6 activities registering an increased energy output.

8. Smarter Brains

“Gaming tests your limits.”

Real-time strategy games can train and improve your cognitive flexibility ie your ability to adapt and switch between tasks as well as think about multiple ideas to resolve problems. Scientists from the Queen Mary University of London and University College London measured the cognitive flexibility of StarCraft gamers and those who played The Sims, over 6 to 8 weeks for 40 hours. They found that the participants who played StarCraft were faster and more accurate when it comes to brain agility tasks than gamers who played The Sims. StarCraft is a fast-paced strategy game where gamers have to build and organize armies to battle an enemy. In order to succeed in the game, participants must manage ever-changing game events happening simultaneously and rapidly in real-time on more than one level, while managing funds, resources and information regarding their opponent. Mini map alerts were disabled, thus requiring participants to rely solely on their memory for events which happen outside the screen window. The Sims is as its namesake suggests, is a life simulation game that is relaxed, does not place too much strain on memory power, nor does it require that many tactics. With a better understanding on the long-term effects of real-time strategy games on neuroplasticity, medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or traumatic brain injuries, could be treated.

9. International Schooling

“At times, games are better teachers.”

Real-life/real-time simulations like StarCraft, The Sims and Age of Empires also have an educational factor. It teaches players life skills and history. In addition, contrary to images of a lone stinky obese player twiddling it out in a darkened room in a remote part of his/her home like the basement, video gaming, especially online video gaming, can hone team playing skills and social skills. World of Warcraft gamers have 11-year olds running around learning about how to delegate responsibility, foster teamwork and steer their team to attain a common objective. Massively multi-player online gamers tend to have a better perception of people from other countries and cultures compared to non-gamers. The findings of the Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland suggests that the ethnic diversity of a school does not mean a student’s choice of personal friends will reflect that diversity. Online gaming builds social skills – gamers make personal and online friendships with other gamers from across the globe. This potentially changes pre-conceived notions towards other cultures and could help to dispel stereotyping.

10. A Dream Job That Pays The Bills

“Paid to do what you love.”

A Dream Job That Pays The Bills So what other more tangible benefits can one gain from gaming? Tangible as in assets that fills wallets and bank accounts? Well, for players looking at a more practical approach to their gaming hobby, some turn it into jobs – a hobby into a jobby. Here’s a rundown of some gaming career options with a yearly salary range of about USD18,000 to USD215,000: Programmer and Engineer, Lead Programmer, Technical Director, Game Artist, Game Animator, Game Designer, Lead Designer, Sound Engineer, Musician/Composer, Game Writer, Lead Quality Assurance, Director of Community and Education, Game Commentator/Caster/Host, Game Analyst, Professional Video Game Player/Professional Gamer, etc. the last 2 being THE ultimate dream jobs for most gamers. And there you have it. Do the pros end here? Is it game over? You can always hit Continue! A game changing experience? You betcha! It’s game on then…Press Start? In the words of the StarCraft teran marine, Mr Tychus J Findlay: “H*ll…it’s about time.”

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