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Video Games & Health – An Unbelievable but True Combination

Updated on October 30, 2014

Gamers fond of video games have only one reason to play them and it is ‘fun’! However one may be surprised to know that it has been proven that video games impart health benefits! Many people, especially parents of young children, are of opinion that video games are bad, as they make children violent, anti-social or just inactive and fat; but they will be happy to know that on the contrary to their thinking, video games actually impart health benefits. Following are the proven health benefits offered by video games.

Weight Loss

Parents complaining that video games turn their children fat may rejoice now as today’s video games throw orders at the gamers like ‘jump’, ‘dance’, ‘run’, ‘stretch’ and so on. Children and adult players too of course obey these orders and they get benefited automatically into weight loss! Thus the exercise which might have bored them otherwise, is done joyfully. As per the report in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published by England’s University of Chester researchers, active video games can help gamers lose weight. Though these “exergames” cannot replace the traditional workouts, they certainly have more health advantages than conventional video games. And there are many such games if you are wondering which ones to choose. For example, Wii Fit which is the first motion-based game which offered gamers a mix of controller and balance board workouts offers health benefits to kids. Researchers have concluded that children can actually be benefitted by playing Wii Fit, because the game makes the gamers exercise without making them realize that they are exercising. And it offers various mini-games to keep boredom away and the balance board serves to measure the progress. WarioWare Smooth Moves is another game which converts a simple party game into an active calorie-burning exercise in a fun way. This game is made of over 200 mini-games each of which is only some seconds long. The pace and difficulty level increase simultaneously, creating a fast and strenuous gaming experience. Ordinary chores like cleaning a car or stacking papers turn into lightening fast games that make your hands moving and heart pumping. But kids enjoy it which they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Increased Sociability

Another complaint of parents of gaming children is their children become non-societal due to games. This too has been proven wrong by games like World of Warcraft. A study was conducted by a Swedish researcher with a group of 15-year old students who performed poor in their studies, by using the game World of Warcraft in all their lessons. The students were taught subjects like politics and mathematical formulae, using the game. It was noted that the students who formerly were shy and lonely got to know each other better. Additionally, their performance in studies improved noticeably. But what improved the most was their communication skill! They learned how to talk to one another as well as to strangers online. Sociologist Talmadge Wright experimented by logging online for many hours to observe how online communities respond to violent video games and concluded that meta-gaming (talking about the content of game) offers a perspective for rules and breaking them. Thus two games go on actually – one the explicit combat and conflict on the screen and the other the implicit comradeship and cooperation among players. Players who may fight to death on screen grow close as friends off screen.

Pain Relief

Yes, video games actually bring about pain relief. Those who suffer from a mental disorder cannot sleep and video games offer their brain the necessary distraction at night. Studies are also available that patients who suffer from chronic pain forget the pain because of video games and thus build up pain tolerance. Example of this is the 90’s games Virtual Reality in which you have to wear a pair of goggles on your head to think that you have entered the game world, but in reality you collide with things. Doctors say that this produces a modulating effect which brings about analgesic influences and it is not just because of distraction but also influences the response of brain to painful stimuli.

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Playing Video Games

Jeffrey I. Gold, Ph.D. moderated a symposium titled “Virtual Reality and Pain Management” in which it was noted that the exact mechanistic basis causing the VR analgesic effect of games is not known; however a possible explanation is the immersive, captivating, multi-sensory and gaming form of VR. These features of VR may create an endogenous modulator outcome, which includes an arrangement of higher cortical (for instance, anterior cingulated cortex) as well as subcortical (like the amygdale, hypothalamus) areas known to be linked with concentration, diversion and emotion.

Well, we can hope for a dream of good future where in video game reviews will not only tell about the games and their engrossment, but also health benefits they bring about! And that will be a real bright future for the coming generations.

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