How do video games affect health and career?

The year 2023 turned out to be rich in gaming novelties – more than 25 games were released in the first three months, including Dead Space, Hogwarts Legacy, Atomic Heart, and Horizon, as well as remakes of Resident Evil 4 and The Last of Us. The release of the latter is particularly interesting, as it demonstrates the development of technology and the creation of interactive game worlds. In short, computer games have changed a lot since their introduction in the 1950s. And although many perceive games as a form of entertainment, their benefits go beyond this understanding. Computer games are a useful tool in various fields of science, which is confirmed by researchers from the University of Surrey. The results of the study showed that games contribute to the development of new skills, and can also help to decide on a profession.

video games

Today, the success of the industry is staggering – games are being developed for a variety of platforms, including PCs, consoles, mobile devices, and VR. Every year hundreds of game novelties are released in various genres – from action to RPGs and shooters and hundreds of articles are being written on different useful game blogs like The popularity, however, has made the games an object of criticism: it is believed that they make children and teenagers violent and aggressive.

However, the results of numerous scientific studies have not revealed a direct link between games and violence, demonstrating the opposite – computer games, for the most part, have a positive effect on players.

The benefits of video games

Nowadays, video games are actively used to study various aspects of human behavior and brain function. The results of a 2010 study on the impact of “Super Mario Bros” on cognitive abilities showed that two months of the game changed the brain’s work in areas related to attention and motor skills.

The influence of video games on human behavior was also studied using the puzzle game “Foldit”. The results showed that gamers are prone to prosocial behavior, for example, volunteering and charity.

Computer games also help patients to restore motor skills and speech after an injury or stroke, and the role of games in education is bearing fruit – with their help, schoolchildren and students study mathematics, history, and foreign languages and actively develop social skills.

Games in medicine

Outside school and university walls, the games help pilots, athletes, military personnel, and doctors. So, a well-trained surgeon can handle tiny instruments during laparoscopic operations, which are most often performed on the abdominal cavity and spine.

For example, during laparoscopic operations, probes with various instruments and cameras are inserted through a small incision, thanks to which the doctor sees the patient from the inside looking at the screen. Is it any wonder that surgeons who play video games for at least three hours a week make 33% fewer mistakes than their non-gamers colleagues.

This is because video games have a positive effect on hand-eye coordination and spatial visualization, helping surgeons perceive more visual data and act faster.

Games in scientific research

In academic circles, some computer games help to collect data and test hypotheses for performance, which is especially important for cosmology, neuroscience, and psychological research. Computer games also help the body respond more quickly to crises and encourage the development of leadership skills.

Moreover, computer games can be used to treat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorder, and phobias. Video games, as it turned out, help to survive difficult emotions and train skills useful in real life.

In general, computer games help scientists and improve the quality of life of players. When using them, however, it is necessary to take into account the potential risks and negative effects, including a sedentary lifestyle and harmful social interactions (e.g. discrimination, prejudice, and violence).

Some researchers are convinced that games must be developed to test a specific hypothesis by establishing the correct testing and data analysis protocols. This is because games are not without potential risks and can bring harm to a person.

The harm of computer games

Many studies are pointing to the potential harm of video games to health and behavior – prolonged use of video games correlates with depression, anxiety, aggression, and insomnia. However, most of these studies were carried out on a small sample and with various limitations, and therefore not all experts come to unambiguous conclusions.

Another potential negative effect of video games is their impact on physical health. Games in most cases contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to obesity and other health problems. Fortunately, you can avoid such problems by playing specially designed games aimed at physical activity. Some studies also indicate a link between computer games and aggression, but the data are contradictory, and the relationship is not causal.

Computer games and career choice

The results of another study conducted by scientists showed that online games assist in the development of professional skills. So, IT specialists and engineers are naturally drawn to puzzles that develop spatial abilities, and those in leadership positions show more interest in RPGs where planning skills are required.

To gain a better understanding of how games affect future career choices and professional development, research experts together with Game Academy Ltd. examined the behavior of more than 16,000 players. During the experiment, the subjects played different online games, and the scientists concentrated on 800 of the most popular video games and players who indicated their place of work.

According to scientists, employers should pay more attention to candidate gamers, as the skills acquired during the games will contribute to the comprehensive development of potential employees. Universities and other educational institutions should also pay attention to gamers and, possibly, include computer games in their curricula.

In a way, when we think about the effect of video games on the brain, it’s very similar to the effect of wine on health. There is a very bad use of wine, and there is a very bad use of video games. However, when consumed in proper quantities and at the appropriate age, wine can be quite healthy.

Similarly, in these action games, several really powerful components give plasticity to the brain and have a positive effect on learning, attention, vision, etc. In computer games, as in any other type of entertainment, you should know the measure and not neglect the advice of specialists so as not to harm your own health.