For many adults, playing video games and gaming online might be considered something that they did only when they were younger, or when they had more free time and less responsibilities.
However, with the rise of smartphone usage around the world, and the increasing availability of online games, this activity is more accessible than ever before.
This means that many adults can take part in this popular pastime when they have a quick break, and don’t have to find somewhere to connect to the internet or set up a Local Area Network (LAN) in order to play with their friends, as some might have had to do in the past.
In fact, despite some of the negative connotations that may have been associated with video games, research actually shows that playing games online could have cognitive and other benefits.
To find out more about these, in this article, we’ll explore the various benefits that playing games have for adults, based on recent psychological findings.
Proposed Benefits of Gaming for Adults: An Overview
1. Improved Cognition
As the title of this article states, one of the main benefits of playing video games is improved cognition, which much of the recent research has focused on. This is because, overall, young people who play games have on average a higher IQ score, and also perform better on tests for perceptual and mental ability. In fact, studies show that even people who took up strategic gaming for a short period of time showed an improvement in their cognitive abilities.
In a research review conducted by psychological researcher Benoit Bediou, it was also demonstrated that there was a strong correlation between playing video games and performing well in perception, attention, spatial cognition and cognitive flexibility tests.
If we stop to think about this for a second, it makes sense that having to complete tasks in a virtual environment could help train your brain in this way, especially since games are designed to have varying levels of difficulty, so you get better and better as you go.
2. Enhanced Creativity
While the focus of the article is on improved cognition, this can also be expanded to include other mental abilities such as creativity, This is because in addition to enhanced processing ability, having to navigate different levels of difficult also requires a player to think laterally and come up with new ways of solving a challenge or puzzle, or doing what is required to complete a level.
Therefore, while cognitive ability might refer to more specific ways of using the brain, it can be argued that creativity is also an important part of improved cognition, as creativity can be combined with other kinds of mental processing power to take on more difficult challenges, both in the virtual realm and perhaps even in real-life.
3. Improved Social Ability
Following on from the point above, the enhanced cognitive power and creativity that comes with playing video games is also expressed in interacting with other players online.
While some might view playing video games as an anti-social activity, research suggests that it is in fact highly social, and studies show that playing video games with friends is an important part of socialising.
In fact, recent findings show that playing games together helps to develop cooperative skills, as players interact and work together to achieve a common goal.
In the digital world of today, playing games can therefore be seen not only as a form of entertainment for adults, but also a way to connect with friends and learn cooperative skills which might be valuable in both their work and interpersonal lives too.
4. Assistance with Emotional Regulation
Despite the fact that playing video games has been seen as potentially harmful by some, studies show that operating in a virtual realm can actually help gamers deal with their emotions and fears in a safe space.
In this way, while some parents might feel unsettled by how angry and frustrated their child is getting when they play the game, what is actually happening is that they are being forced to confront and deal with their own emotions.
In fact, according to research, those who play games report that it helps reduce stress, and research findings suggest that gaming can actually help young people learn to calm themselves after experiencing heightened emotions.
Final Thoughts on Gaming As The Cognitive Power Booster
In the article above, we’ve covered some of the broad benefits of gaming, from a cognitive, creative, social and emotional standpoint. In summary, playing video games has been shown to increase cognitive capacity, enhance creativity, improve interpersonal cooperability and assist with emotional regulation.
While most of the research discussed above was conducted on young people, the truth is that many adults today played games when they were younger, so it seems safe to say that the same benefits would apply to them.
In addition to this, studies on the benefits of gaming on non-gamers suggests that even those who have never played games before can still benefit from doing so at a later stage.
Overall, it seems that despite the negative connotations that some associate with online gaming, it actually has many cognitive benefits, which could actually help to improve the way that people think, feel and engage with the world around them.