When was the last time you played video games? What types of games did you enjoy playing? Regardless of what sort you are into, playing video games is good for you. The benefits of playing video games are endless ranging from improving cognitive functions, multi-tasking ability to stress relief.
Gaming is booming amongst Baby Boomers and older adults. According to recent research, over 40 percent of Australians aged 65+ regularly play some form of video game – and it’s not just fun and games either! One of the reasons for the surge in popularity among older demographics is video games’ potential positive effect on spatial navigation, the brain’s ability to learn, wellbeing, social connection, and even mobility and balance. Keep reading to explore 5 unexpected benefits of playing video games and if you aren’t currently playing video games, see how you can get started.
Video games have a positive effect on spatial navigation, perception, and memories
In a study conducted in Macquarie University researchers suggested that making a habit of playing video games can actually increase your brain’s grey matter volume and the connectivity between different parts of your brain. What’s grey matter, you might ask? Put simply, grey matter is associated with your brain’s muscle control, memories, spatial navigation, and perception.
The researchers looked at competitive video game players and found that they had more grey matter than average suggesting that games can help your brain stay fit and functioning. Playing games has also help with the ability to focus and your multi-tasking skills.
Video games can help you learn faster
Our brains can be very powerful, and according to researcher and neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier “our brains are constantly predicting what will come next – whether when listening to a conversation, driving, or even performing surgery”. To do this our brains develop models or ‘templates’ from the world around us to understand what will happen next.
In a study conducted by Daphne and her team, looking at action-oriented games and the effect on cognitive function and learning, they found that those who played action video games, such as Call of Duty, were able to create ‘templates’ a lot faster than those who played games that were more slow-paced, from other genres. Put simply, action video games can help people learn faster.
Other studies also proved that action games substantially improve performance in a range of attentional span, visual task performance and cognitive tasks. Playing games help you notice smaller details, improve problem-solving skills and learn to combat impulsiveness.
Video games can improve your mobility and balance
Exergames (games that encourage exercise) like Nintendo’s Ring Fit video game can be fun ways of getting in some physical activity from the comfort of your own home. Studies have shown that exergames are not only fun and engaging but are also able to improve balance and mobility in older adults. In a study conducted with a group of 1520 older adults, researchers concluded that participants’ postural balance and mobility increased after playing physical video games on Nintendo Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation console systems
Playing video games can be good for your mental wellbeing
Studies have shown that playing video games can be good for your wellbeing and mental health. A breakthrough study from Oxford University, conducted throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, found that people who played games for longer reported greater wellbeing.
Playing games helps with stress management and improves your overall mental wellbeing.
Games can help you be more social
Finally, video games don’t have to be a socially isolating experience. As video games allow people to connect with one another from across the world, it could be a great tool for tackling loneliness. There are many games available that involve playing with friends, family, and others online. Games such as Farmville, Words with Friends, or Boom Beach can provide players with a virtual social community. Playing video games with others online can improve social skills in understanding behaviour, collaboration and teamwork, and with peer-to-peer learning.
And there you have it! The benefits of video games are endless. As video games become more popular and technology evolves, there are many new ways to play games and get involved. You don’t have to take up playing video games full time to reap the benefits.
If you’re new to playing video games or need assistance or advice, we can help. ACH Group’s Smart Technology service offer set up and coaching support to help you stay connected and independent in your own home. Our Exercise Physiologists and Occupational Therapists will help work out which devices and games that best suit your needs.
Interested in video gaming? Now is a good time to join the Stay in The Game challenge – ACH Group’s six-week online gaming challenge for South Australians 65+ featuring weekly participation prizes. The challenge encourages people to play online and video games to increase physical exercise and stay socially connected. It’s free to join and easy to sign up.
Learn more and sign up today: https://www.stayinthegame.achgroup.org.au/