Table of Contents
The ever-growing gaming industry now enjoys an audience of millions around the world. Whether you play for fun or at a professional e-sports level, gaming provides great relaxation and various unforgettable experiences in virtual worlds. At the same time, it faces frequent prejudices from the surrounding environment, with many people perceiving gaming as a waste of time. Or as something that will never do anyone any good. However, this is only one view and it mostly comes from those who do not know how to play games or whose last game was Super Mario on an old Vietnamese console twenty years ago. Since then, the gaming world has made tremendous strides, offering more than ever before. It is not just entertainment; it can also be a source of income and various benefits.
In this article, you will learn about the benefits of playing games in the following areas:
We will support these mentioned benefits with scientific opinions in the form of various studies. So, sit back comfortably, press START, and let yourself be carried away on the wave of this playful article.
At what level does healthy gaming begin and end?
Než začneme, treba povedať, že nie je hranie ako hranie. Nie každé zasadnutie pred počítač či konzolu totiž prináša benefity, bez ktorých sa nedá žiť. Skôr platí, že to, či hranie hier váš health bar dobíja alebo ničí, závisí od individuálneho prístupu samotného hráča. Ten môže byť buď zdravý, alebo nezdravý, kedy hranie prináša zanedbávanie ostatných aspektov života. Keď sa pomyselný gamepad chytí zo zlého konca, hráč môže gamingu prepadnúť. Vtedy zanedbáva povinnosti, zabúda na iné koníčky alebo má problémy v škole či práci, ktorých zdrojom je práve nadmerný čas strávený hraním. Myslí len na to, kedy konečne porazí toho náročného bossa, dosiahne level 20, nahromadí dostatok XP, príde k ďalšiemu checkpointu alebo odomkne vysnenú zbraň, s ktorou ovládne každú virtuálnu bitku. 
In this article, we will focus on the benefits of gaming that result from a healthy approach. With a healthy approach, instead of getting constantly hit, you can find some interesting loot or gain some extra mana. In real life, this means gaming is just one of many aspects of your life, leaving you plenty of time to do other things. This way, gaming can be a positive habit that doesn’t negatively affect your health, personal life, or work. 
Hranie môže mať dokonca aj edukatívny charakter. Ide o špecifický segment hier, ktoré využívajú napríklad študenti alebo zamestnanci určitých profesií ako policajti, zdravotníci či hasiči. Úlohu týchto hier je naučiť hráčov konkrétne veci interaktívnou formou. Dobrým príkladom je trenažér v autoškole. Ten účastníkom vodičského kurzu virtuálne odovzdáva prvé najzákladnejšie skúsenosti za volantom ešte predtým, než si presadnú do skutočného auta. Medzi edukatívne hry patrí aj populárna aplikácia Duolingo, určená na učenie rôznych jazykov ako angličtina, taliančina či francúzština. V prípade detí býva obľúbený napríklad Dragon Box, ktorý ich ponorí do dajov geometrie zábavnou formou. 
- Ak vás zaujíma, ako môže vyzerať hranie v serióznejšej rovine, prečítajte si náš článok Čo je e-šport a ako vyzerá svet virtuálnych športovcov.
- If the topic of gaming approaches intrigues you further, don’t miss our article on Healthy and Unhealthy Gaming Approaches: What Sets a Regular Player Apart from an E-Sports Player?
Benefits of Playing Games
Nájsť však môžete oveľa viac vzdelávacích hier s rôznym zameraním, ktoré pravidelne využívajú napríklad aj piloti. Nejedná sa pritom len o letecký trenažér, ale aj iné komerčné hry pre bežných hráčov, ktoré im prinášajú lepšie reflexy či rôzne iné benefity. Tie si rozoberieme nižšie.
1. Increased Gray Matter Volume
Širšia verejnosť hráčov často nespravodlivo vníma ako nešikovných geekov v zamastených okuliaroch s uhrami na tvári. O to viac hernú komunitu môže potešiť štúdia z roku 2015 zverejnená na platforme Scientific Reports. Výskumníci z University of Electronic Science and Technology of China a Macquarie University v Sydney sa na gamerov pozreli pomocou skenu magnetickej rezonancie (MRI). Konkrétne analyzovali mozgy 27 profesionálnych e-športových hráčov, ktorí majú na konte úspechy z majstrovstiev v League of Legends či DOTA2.
They compared the scans with the brain activity of casual gamers, i.e., recreational players. The result is that regular competitive gaming at a professional level increases the amount of gray matter in the brain. Gray matter is responsible for controlling muscles, sensory perception, intelligence, planning, emotions, decision-making, and other cognitive functions. Having more gray matter can make these functions sharper compared to a group of non-gamers.  
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2. Improved Sensory-Motor Skills
We use sensory-motor skills when coordination between our vision and our motor skills is necessary. Typical examples include cycling or writing. Sensory-motor skills also influence muscle tone and the ability to perceive our body in relation to other objects in space. Increasing levels of sensory-motor skills can elevate us from a basic level to an expert level in a specific area. It also reflects how effectively we can perform specific tasks, perhaps even without having to think about them for long.
No a jednou z vecí, ktoré môžu senzomotorické schopnosti podporiť, sa ukazuje aj hranie hier. Konkrétne akčných, medzi ktoré patrí napríklad Call of Duty alebo Counter Strike. Štúdia vedená psychológmi z University of Toronto sledovala skupiny dvoch hráčov. Prvá hrala strieľačky z pohľadu prvej osoby počas šiestich mesiacov, každý deň aspoň 2 hodiny. Druhú skupinu tvorili ľudia, ktorí nehrajú hry, prípadne si zahrajú len veľmi zriedka.
Participants in the study were instructed to keep a small green cursor in the centre of a white square that moved repetitively across the screen. This task required good coordination between vision and hand movement. By the end of the study, the gamers achieved better results and were significantly more accurate in keeping the cursor within the target area. 
3. Enhancing Manual Skills through Fine Motor Skills
Most games are controlled using a joystick, keyboard, or mouse. Players gradually learn the order of actions and when to press specific keys. This activity has proven to be beneficial for manual dexterity. In a 2007 study, young aspiring surgeons who played video games regularly or at least 3 hours per week were compared to their non-gaming or “noob” colleagues.
Both groups were evaluated in laparoscopic surgery and suturing. The results showed that surgeons who played games for at least 3 hours per week made 37% fewer errors and were 27% faster in procedures. For regular gamers, the results were even better, with a 47% lower error rate and a 39% increase in speed.
Video games can be an interesting and practical tool that can help develop laparoscopic surgical skills. The support of fine motor skills or manual dexterity can also be appreciated in other professions such as auto mechanics, hairdressers, tailors, and more. In everyday life, it can come in handy when you need to thread a needle, assemble small LEGO pieces, play games on a small mobile screen without using a gamepad, or fasten a minimalist necklace to your partner. 
4. Improved Contrast Sensitivity
Modern 3D games often require good orientation in the surrounding environment, which can gradually level up players’ spatial awareness in real life. This assertion is supported by a study from the University of Rochester, claiming that first-person shooter games enhance the spatial vision of players in the real world. Gamers also exhibit better contrast sensitivity, which determines how well a person sees. The study participants were divided into two groups.
Prvá hrala Unreal Tournament 2004 a Call of Duty 2, zatiaľ čo druhá sa venovala The Sims. Dobrovoľníci odohrali 50 hodín v priebehu 9 týždňov. Na konci sa ukázalo, že hráči akčných hier dokázali o 43 % lepšie rozoznať jemné odtiene šedej. V prípade The Sims účastníci výskumu nepreukázali žiadne zlepšenie. Napriek mnohým obavám z toho, že hranie hier zhoršuje zrak, táto činnosť nemusí byť nutne škodlivá a má aj svoje výhody. Ak by ste si chceli podobný test urobiť aj vy, môžete vyskúšať napríklad túto základnú verziu. 
5. Promoting Physical Fitness
You might be raising an eyebrow at this point. After all, when players are sprawled on the couch or hunched over a computer during gaming, how can it support fitness? In this case, we’re referring to a specific active genre of games that involves camera tracking or VR setups. The advantage of this kind of gaming is that you can’t really sit down and it involves the movement of the whole body.
Another plus is wide availability. You can play them on PC, consoles, or even standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Quest. You have a wide range of titles to choose from, including combat, simulators, sports or rhythm games. Modern VR innovations thus don’t necessarily have to fall into the sports genre to get you moving.
A great example is the action-adventure game “Horizon Call of the Mountain” on PlayStation VR2, where climbing mountains with your hands is a central part of the experience. Thanks to this, you can enjoy a lot of movement and stretching while focusing on beautiful mountain views, the story, and exciting action in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by machines. Active gaming could even be significant for the elderly, who often engage in the least physical activity among all age groups.
A review of studies from 2020 showed that active video games can improve mobility and activity levels among adolescents. In some cases, they might work even better than traditional methods like “stand up and take a few steps.” During active gaming, attention is directed to other aspects, and movement becomes somewhat subconscious, making time pass more quickly. 
6. Mental Health Support
Games can be a great way to take a break from everyday duties, unwind and relax in the virtual world while having fun. Additionally, they can provide you with a chance to process your day or recharge your health bar after a challenging day at school or work. Thanks to this, games have significant potential as a source of mental well-being, a claim supported by research published in the 2021 journal JMIR Serious Games.
This research examined the impact of commercial video games on depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It demonstrated that gaming can be beneficial in promoting mental health, especially for people who may not have access to other forms of treatment, perhaps due to cost barriers. The study also indicated that commercially available video games were effective in reducing symptoms of depression, including the loss of pleasure when doing activities. Additionally, titles like Minecraft or Animal Crossing: New Horizons facilitate social connections and reduce feelings of loneliness. It’s worth noting, though, that video games should not replace traditional therapy and are better viewed as an alternative supplement to support mental health. 
Coping with challenging life periods can also be aided by adaptogens, which you can learn more about in our article Adaptogens: Natural Substances That Help Manage Stress.
7. Positive Effect on Cognitive Functions
Ďalším z dobrých aspektov hrania môže byť aj pozitívny vplyv na kognitívne funkcie. Sú to tie, vďaka ktorým môžeme vnímať okolitý svet. Príkladom je pozornosť, schopnosť vytvárať úsudok alebo riešiť problémy, myslenie, pamäť či používanie reči. V súvislosti s kognitívnymi funkciami a hraním videohier máme k dispozícii celý rad rôznych štúdií, ktoré podporujú pozitívny efekt a hovoria, že [10 – 14]:
- Playing modern 3D games can enhance spatial memory
- Action games can reduce reaction time without compromising accuracy
- First-person shooters can improve mental flexibility, which aids in adapting to change, multitasking, and switching between tasks more efficiently
- Fast-paced action games can enhance visual processing ability, enabling better identification of important information while ignoring irrelevant distractions
- Action games can improve the ability to shift attention visually and auditorily to different objects, a skill valuable during activities such as reading or information processing
These findings challenge the “boss” called stereotype which suggests that gamers are just some clumsy geeks with big glasses and greasy hair. In reality, some of the most famous gamers include individuals like Superman actor Henry Cavill, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, 007 Agent Daniel Craig, seasoned Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson, or Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson. None of these names fit the stereotypical profile. 
8. Enhanced Reaction Time
Reaction time is crucial in various everyday situations. It allows us to respond appropriately, like hitting the brakes when a pedestrian suddenly appears in front of our car. It’s also valuable when preparing for a job interview, where quick and assertive responses may be required. People with better reaction times have an advantage, whether it’s swatting away a fast-moving mosquito or grabbing a falling cup in the nick of time.
The good news is that this skill can be trained, and action-packed games like Call of Duty, God of War, GTA, Halo, or DOOM can help. These games are filled with dynamic sequences and scenarios that require players to react much faster than they typically would in everyday activities. As a result, they can develop and improve this skill even outside of gaming. A meta-analysis of 80 studies comparing the reaction times of gamers and non-gamers in various conditions demonstrated that, on average, gamers can react about 12% faster and more accurately than non-gamers.
Specifically, e-sport performance can also be improved by the best dietary supplements for gamers and e-sports athletes.
9. Support for Problem Solving
Another superpower of video games is their ability to foster creativity and problem-solving skills. This fact is fundamental to games and might not require scientific studies to back it up. It’s based on the idea that practice makes perfect. If you’ve played a particular game for an extended period of time, you know how you gradually get better at it. The same principle applies if you’re a fan of hardcore “souls” games, where defeating tough bosses is the goal. I’m sure you’ll recall numerous situations where you had to strategize and rethink your approach, all in pursuit of overcoming that challenging obstacle, just to arrive at the GAME OVER screen anyway.
However, such challenges don’t deter an experienced gamer. Instead, you’ve learnt from your mistakes, tried different strategies, and devised new tactics until you successfully overcame the obstacle that stood in your way of progressing to the next level. The variety of games available today is vast, with modern titles becoming increasingly more complex. It’s no longer just about games like Tetris or Super Mario. Today’s games require players to gradually master their mechanics, learn, and acquire a broader range of skills that lead them to victory. These claims are supported by researchers at the University of South Carolina, who found that games stimulate how players perceive and process the world around them. By being accustomed to solving various problems in virtual worlds, players are more likely to apply the skills and strategies they’ve developed within the game to real-life situations. 
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10. Socialising and Teamwork Development
Society often holds biases against gamers, perceiving them as people who spend days in front of a computer or console, having few friends and minimal social interaction. While there might be some gamers who fit this stereotype, the reality is different. Did you know that video games can contribute to socialization? According to IGI Global statistics, more than 70% of people play games with their friends.
During gaming, they are connected through headsets and often engage in conversations. This social interaction can even extend beyond the virtual world and continue on community forums or chats. Furthermore, various community events and e-sports tournaments, where players meet either online or in person, are not uncommon. All of these interactions have a positive impact on socialization.
Gaming doesn’t have to be solely competitive either. There are numerous cooperative games on the market, such as Minecraft, Diablo IV, or It Takes Two, where players’ success relies on teamwork. There are also multiplayer shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Counter-Strike 2, which require coordination between at least two teams to defeat the opponent. This style of gaming can help develop the ability to work in a team, as confirmed by a study from Brigham Young University that observed 80 newly formed teams. The study concluded that people who played games together were 20% more productive as a team compared to those who used traditional team-building activities to foster collaboration. 
Video games are no longer just a childhood activity focused on pressing two buttons. The gaming industry has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar business, offering titles that can positively impact various aspects of your life. These claims are often supported by scientific studies, which have shown several interesting benefits. Examples include improved spatial vision, support for mental health, and reduced reaction time, which can be appreciated not only while driving. Additionally, gaming can be a great tool for training various professions, such as surgeons or pilots. All of this makes video games an activity that can enrich your life positively at any age.
If someone stubbornly claims that gaming is strictly for children or a waste of time, share this article with them to convince them otherwise. Also, don’t forget to tell us in the comments which games you like the most.
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