By Don Spencer
In the last thirty years, gaming has prevailed time and time again as the number one source of revenue in the gaming industry, boasting a total yield of $196.8 billion dollars in 2022 thus far, $40.5 billion of which has been from PC gaming. Safe to say, gaming shows no signs of slowing and is here to stay.
Alright, let's be clear here. Nobody is saying that gaming is proactively healthy or that it should be chosen over proven positive lifestyle choices such as good sleep routines, running, lifting, yoga, meditation and the like. Just because something is enjoyable and addictive doesn't necessarily mean it's doing you a world of good.
What we are saying is that gaming has proved capable of changing the lives of our community, by offering amazing levels of immersion and connectedness.
Today, we take a look at why booting up your favourite game, whether alone or with friends, really might not be the worst thing in the world after all.
In this fast paced world, sometimes it's nice just to kick it back and get stuck into your favourite game.
Stress relief for the regular gamer could be found in the ambience of the beautiful villages and mountains of Skyrim, the hypnotic focus of Guitar Hero, or just the sheer therapeutic release of slaughtering some of Doom's fiendish demons in blood curdling style. It's all part of how we switch off from the outside world.
When your brain is on autopilot, and when muscle memory is engaged, studies have shown that much of your brain activity mimics that of mindful meditation. Which means that if you want a daily taste of zen, you could gain it from raiding some dungeons in Diablo, but for goodness sake, keep on with your meditation practise.
The format of many video games correlates with putting your brain into a sort of flow. Take a platformer game like Crash Bandicoot for example, where the player is presented with a continuous series of challenging but achievable tasks. The gradual build up of challenges can really take you 'in the zone' and allow your worries of daily life to take a back seat for a little while.
We at Fierce have noticed that after gaming for only a brief period, our pre-existing worries and concerns are often met with a different perspective after the fact.
Stress relief is associated not only with mental restoration but also physical benefits too. Effective stress management is correlated with low muscle tension, good blood pressure and improved heart health.
Check out a few low stress games here
There are those out there that say video games 'dumb us down' - to them we say 'have you ever played Portal 2?'
Video games come in a huge array of flavours. One minute you may be mindlessly laying waste to Viking raiders in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, the next you may be building your own war plan and going head to head against history's greatest leaders in Civilization 6. In any case, the challenge is always different and as are the demands on the human mind.
A study of around 2,000 children found that young people who played video games for 3 hours or more a day performed better on cognitive skills test than those who did not. Despite it being a limited study, it is clear that the complex problem solving involved in some games can help develop critical thinking.
Impulse control and memory play a key part in even the most straight forward of games. Neuroplasticity, the capacity for your brain to create new neural pathways, is activated when learning a new skill, so a daily dose of gaming could just keep you sharper than your non-gaming peers.
Strength in Numbers
It's no secret that one of the best ways to create meaningful relationships with friends is through shared experiences.
There's truly nothing like face to face contact, an experience that is very difficult to replicate in any meaningful way, but it cannot be denied that gaming with friends can be extremely bond forming. Party chat is a great way to maintain contact between friends, especially for those who live far away from one another. Some of the best conversations we've had have been at 2AM, four hours deep into Warzone quads.
Co-operative gaming can be a great way to develop team building and social dynamic skills for those who cannot or will not ordinarily engage with people. Playing with friends can also build a healthy degree of competitiveness, which can be great for self esteem. Even a game as straight forward as Fortnite requires planning, resource sharing, competition, emotional support and perhaps above all else, a dose of good humour!
Online gaming not only helps existing friends stay in touch, but helps new ones blossom. A young couple 300 miles apart met whilst playing Call of Duty online, developing their romance through teaming up against their enemies. Love can be found in the strangest of places. Read more about the experience here.
RGB Culture Model
When you think of education, gaming isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. After all, who gets a head full of brains playing Rocket League? But like so many things, it all depends on what you choose to consume.
The Assassin's Creed series provided the opportunity for the player to explore the cities of Ancient Greece, Victorian London, the sands of Egypt and many more. Famous landmarks throughout the regions allow the player to learn some history behind these iconic locations. 2019 even saw the series bring a full blown tour mode, guided by an NPC, where you can learn about the culture, life and crafts of the people who lived there.
Other games, including Civilisation, Rome: Total War and even the Battlefield franchises contain in game assets that are fairly faithful to the historical events of their respective settings. You may not get the same cultural understanding you would get in a history book, but some kind of reference point could just provide you with something of interest to bring up at a dinner party!
Gaming is a universally loved experience. Whilst it is important to be aware of the downsides of excessive gaming, we believe, and have seen first hand, that gaming can create some of the best entertainment experiences out there. Gaming can provide not only a great mental stimulus but also help in shaping the character and personality of it's players. Game on, player 1.
Words - Don Spencer
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