Benefits of Gaming on Mental Health
Gamers know the positive effects that playing games can have: feeling more connected, more engaged - generally happier. But not everyone thinks so. There is a huge stigma around gaming, as many people consider it to be a withdrawal from life, as well as a waste of time. Here's what we've found...
At Waste, we're a group of 70+ people, and well over half of us are devout gamers. We know gaming in and out - both professionally (it's our bread & butter), but also personally, through our own individual experiences with it.
While gaming can be seen as a negative, we see it as a positive when engaged with in moderation. A recent Oxford study showed that people who played more games tended to report greater “wellbeing," something that gamers intuitively know. We've found that gaming has, to many of us, had that effect.
And yet it's undeniable that it can also be damaging when done in excess. Gaming Disorder is currently listed as a Mental Illness by the World Health Organisation and is defined as when someone prioritises games over other life activities with negative consequences.
While over-gaming can trigger unhelpful symptoms or may be an indicator of wider mental health issues, there are a lot of positive mental health benefits to consider.
Benefits of Gaming
Depending on the type of game you like to play; whether it’s strategy based games with zero threats or fast-paced confrontational games, there are many ways to experience mental health benefits.
Video games are designed to cause flow; a psychological state which releases dopamine (a feel-good transmitter) into the brain by being entirely focused on and energised by the task at hand. This can help with the following:
Stress Management - video games can distract the mind and help escape potential stress triggers or negative thoughts which also helps combat depression and anxiety
Social Benefits - allows us to communicate with others who may be in a similar position and combat loneliness
Focusing on a single goal can help to improve key skills including resourcefulness, adaptability, willpower and decision making
Escapism - creating your own narratives draws us into the activity, acting as a form of escapism for many people.
Games To Try Out
Recently, there have been many games that have represented certain mental health conditions including Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which portrays the experience of psychosis and Celeste which tackles overcoming depression and anxiety.
There are also some games that have proven mental health benefits such as:
Super Mario - a study has shown that playing this game increased memory formation, planning and spatial navigation.
Personal Zen - this game has been proven to reduce anxiety by challenging players to focus on positivity.
Tetris - has been shown to increase concentration and provide a sense of focus.
Project Evo - helps improve neural functioning and cognitive symptoms.
Happify - app that overcomes negative thoughts through puzzles, games and a gratitude journal.
Many of us wasters can attest to the feel-good effects of gaming. As Hesiod, Greek poet, observed back in 700 BC: 'Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.' We second that.