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Six Ways Video Games Improve Your Brain Health

By Jillian Johnson posted 01-23-2024 04:37 PM


“Video games rot your brain!” “Video games make you violent!”

Do they, though?

Studies linking video games with addictive and violent behaviors have run rampant since the 1980s. I remember hearing my parents repeat how bad video games were for us as kids, despite the fact that they had just gifted a Super Nintendo to my stepbrother and me for Christmas that year, which had opened the gateway to my love of video games. 

Luckily, modern scientific research has all but debunked the myth that video games are solely detrimental to mental health. The evolving world of gaming has brought forth new scientific research that highlights the numerous benefits of moderate video gaming. From increased attention span and better memory to improved problem-solving skills and cognitive performance, video games have proven to be a valuable tool for mental and physical brain health.

 Here are just a few of the benefits that moderate video gaming has on your brain:

Increased Attention Span

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to focus on doing laundry, but also how easy it is to focus on fighting a horde of zombies? Dopamine aside, studies have shown that action video games are linked to increased focus and attention spans in young adults. Who knew that The Last of Us was both an amazing story AND good for your brain?!

More Grey Matter = Better Memory

Fighting hordes of zombies has also been linked to more grey matter in the brain. Grey matter is tissue in the brain that helps you function day to day, and also plays a huge part in movement, emotions, and memory. Other studies have also found that more grey matter in the brain can help prevent certain degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Improved Problem Solving Skills

Those annoying puzzles in Skyrim dungeons can actually have a positive effect on your brain! Current research shows that video games that offer complex problem-solving opportunities, such as puzzles and riddles, can actually help improve your ability to solve problems in real life! 

Better Cognitive Performance

Faster decision making and improved mood are among the top cognitive benefits associated with video gaming. Additionally, studies have shown that video games lower rates of depression and improve impulse control, and overall behavior! So when you’re in your next challenging boss battle, be reminded that it’s good for your brain!

Stress Relief

I know a really hard boss fight can seem like it induces more stress, but it turns out that it has the opposite effect on your brain! Video games have been shown to be a huge stress reliever among both children AND adults. According to the experts, video games can induce a state similar to mindful meditation, which has its own cognitive performance benefits. Video games are also a great creative outlet, especially if you play games that allow you to build and design (like The Sims or Stardew Valley). 

Improved Hand-Eye Coordination

Whether using a controller or a mouse, the relationship between your hands and eyes is pretty self-explanatory. As it turns out, research has shown that your brain processes the signals between your hands and eyes faster when you game, and even outside of the game! That’s not all — the more you game, the faster your brain processes signals, and the faster your reflexes become! No wonder you react faster to an enemy in Call of Duty the more you play it!

The next time you're engrossed in a challenging boss battle or immersed in a virtual world, remember that you're not just having fun — you're also improving your mental well-being. Save the virtual world = improve your brain health. Win, win!




01-25-2024 08:41 AM

I love The Sims as well, Adriene! Thank you for sharing how gaming has helped you. When I find myself needing an escape from stress, I play one of my longtime characters on The Sims 4 and live sort of vicariously through her. You are right that it does offer opportunities for control that 'real' life does not. 

01-24-2024 10:52 AM

I'll date myself a bit here. I'm not much of a "gamer" in the generalized sense of the label BUT I grew up playing the Sims. When the original came out, it was unlike anything we'd ever played on the computer. I remember the hours lost as a middle schooler building houses and creating imaginative storylines. When I found myself continuing to be a loyal customer of EA Games/Maxis for the next decade, buying and trying their new versions of the simulation game, I realized it was way more than a game for me. It was a piece of life that I could control. It was the one world that I could anticipate every outcome, every personality, births, deaths, and everything in between. I know that all games offer us an alternate reality to lose ourselves in to some degree but The Sims, especially the newest version, takes it to a whole different level. I wrote a paper on it in college after I had that cathartic "aha" moment. I truly believe gaming can be an incredible tool for mental health. Obviously the nature of the game matters, but I know for me when I needed it most, it helped me deal through some tough, emotional times. Also, this is my plug to #EAGames, please bring back downloadable versions of Sims 2. It was the best version you ever created and it's not compatible with Windows 10 and still only available on disc.