Online gaming gets a bad wrap. This modern-day popular pastime often gets lumped in with its old ancestor, watching TV, and branded with the similar negative slogans, like ‘it’ll rot your brain’ or ‘you’ll get square eyes’. But watching TV and playing games online are worlds apart and, once you discover the surprising benefits of online gaming, you’ll see that the two activities have little more in common than simply taking place in front of a screen.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the many benefits of gaming online, as well as which types of games can actually improve cognitive function and other essential skills. So sit back and relax, as we take you through the fascinating world of online gaming and its many advantages.
A survey by the Pew Research centre found that 97% of American teenagers play video games every single week, making it the most popular activity among adolescents by a long shot. And it’s safe to assume we have similar statistics here in the UK. But, rather than these kids wasting their brain cells with hours spent in front of a screen, the results of the survey actually suggested that these teens were improving many essential social, civic and cognitive skills, important for adult life. So what can we learn from this study? And how, as adults, can we use video games to better our own skill sets?
Let’s take a look.
Depending on what games you like to play, some of them may vastly improve your analytical skills, as well as develop problem-solving capabilities.
Games where you’re faced with a tough decision will see you weighing up pros and cons, often under pressure, before taking a decisive course of action. And games where your actions affect teammates are an even better source of decision-making, where the outcome benefits multiple people.
Playing games usually involves quick responses, and practising these rapid reaction times can improve your reflexes overall. Again, depending on what games you play, you may need lightning-fast response times, where you’re dodging bullets or outrunning an oncoming horde of zombies! But it’s not just shoot-em-ups that require you to react quickly and effectively.
A game like Tetris, where you have to move various oddly-shaped blocks around so they fit together, is a basic but fantastically efficient game for practising your reaction times. Not only must you think fast, but you must also calculate the best position for the block to land in, as well as look ahead at the next block, which will be on its way imminently.
While it can be easy to interpret a person sitting in front of a computer screen as some sort of hermit, many games involve serious tactical and team-building skills, where the players interact constantly over a long period of time, in order to come to a decision that affects the whole group. And these sessions of communication are incredibly efficient for improving social skills, which we all need to make new friends and build relationships, both socially and in the workplace.
So far, we’ve seen some of the various benefits to gaming online. But which games in particular are best for improving our skills? Depending on what you play, you can increase reaction times, analytical abilities and social skills. Sometimes, one game will focus on one of these skill sets, while others may encompass more than one.
So let’s take a look at some of these games and see how they fare.
As you can probably guess, games that involve teamwork are best for improving social skills and problem-solving abilities. For example, the Halo series of first-person shooter games uses a multiplayer format, meaning you must work as a group in order to survive the longest.
By communicating your ideas and listening to others, you not only improve your overall social skills, you also rapidly increase your analytical capabilities. Plus, being able to make rational decisions under extreme pressure is an enviable life skill that transfers to almost every type of job role imaginable.
Games where you must think one or more moves ahead can positively impact your cognitive skills, as well as improve memory and other life-long brain functions. Chess and casino games are particularly effective here, including skill-based games like poker and, to a slightly lesser degree, blackjack. More modern versions of these titles can be played with a live dealer, which makes the whole experience far more true-to-life and which can also increase social interaction.
There are also slot games, which require fast reactions and tactical thinking. While we often think of slot games as being old school fruit machines with basic mechanics, modern-day slot games at the newest slot sites in the UK are far more sophisticated, with multiple game functions, characters and even storylines that you can influence. All of which can improve a great deal of cognitive and interactive skills.
In recent years, games where you choose the fate of the characters have become some of the most popular in the world. Titles such as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and The Town of Light are both games where your actions, and even your dialogue, will affect how the game develops and plays out.
These types of games encompass analytics, problem solving and thinking ahead, as well as even encroach on other important topics, such as ethics and moral codes. And we can all agree that these are all essential skills that you carry with you in all areas of life!
As we’ve seen, there are countless benefits to gaming online. From improving brain function and reaction times, to developing problem-solving and decision-making skills that you can use at home and in the workplace, online gaming is not the square-eye-inducing, brain-rotting activity our grandparents and parents so often compare with sitting in front of the TV.
So next time someone says something along the lines of ‘you should get out more’, shove a controller in their hand and give them a team of Halo enthusiasts to play with. They won’t accuse you of being antisocial for long!