Video games are often stigmatized as “just games” or a “waste of time” which is very unfortunate because they have the capability to bring a lot of value into your life. It’s more than just having fun and staring at a screen for hours (although it definitely comes with the territory). Video games are very complex creations, designed for many different audiences and can be the source of learning opportunities, self reflection, and social interactivity. Here are some of the benefits of playing video games:
New Worlds to Explore
Specially now during the pandemic, it’s easy to feel cooped up in your own space. The ability to distract the mind and immerse yourself to new surroundings and explore them at your leisure can be very stimulating! You don’t even have to be good at it — it’s simply a beautiful, stimulating option to escape to a new reality. And it can be a real game changer (pun intended!) for you and your mental health.
Cultivates empathy, problem solving skills & critical thinking
Video games are very complex, heavily researched, and high effort products. The world building, game mechanics, world logic & story formula are a collaboration of many fields and a lot of very talented individuals. They’re very sophisticated pieces of artwork and not something to be dismissed as a simple game or reduced to a few dismissive adjectives.
The story — playing and making decisions as a character that is not yourself allows the player to place themselves in other’s shoes, consider situations beyond their imagination, and inherently cultivate empathy. The challenges faced throughout the story for items that are desirable, be it for game mechanics, aesthetics/ character style or to advance a compelling narrative, requires problem solving & critical thinking. There is trial and error and a learning curve to every game. Remember those wordy problem solving scenarios in your math workbook? Well video games are that but 1000% harder and funner.
The video game community is one of the most vibrant, enthusiastic, passionate and vocal communities out there. They are vibrant because they’re very expressive of their personality and views. Enthusiastic because they don’t hide their passion for their favorite stories and games and back it up with a lot of information, receipts, and understanding of the worlds they invest in. They are not afraid to make waves, speak directly to companies and express their expectations. And you know what? Companies listen!
Personal Growth Opportunity
While most of the other points are weaved with opportunities for growth — its important to distinguish how video games are vehicles of self expression. Customizing your character, your decisions, your spaces within these virtual environments — allow for the player to actively reflect on their choices and experiment with their sense of aesthetic and taste.
Enabling Interactions Between Loved Ones
During COVID or Not, video games can be a crucial gateway of communication, relationship building and a source of great memories. Some of my favorite memories with my sibling and father are us all playing Mario Kart 64 — trash talking and all! Same goes with my husband — throughout our relationship, we often talked over issues, bonded, learned about each other and how we problem solved together, and even resolved fights through video games.
You might be skeptical or not fully trusting of the gaming community or gaming in general — which is completely acceptable and understandable. There are games for all ages and with all sorts of different stories. It is important that you check the ESRB rating and purchase age appropriate games. There are many video games to choose from that can fulfill your imperatives as an individual — be it for yourself or as a parent or guardian. If you decide to share in the experience it will give you something to be collectively excited about, it will help you learn about who your child is, and open the floodgates of communication with them— be it about who they are or just cool stories to share at the dinner table. If you are a childfree adult — it can do everything listed above with friends, other family members and partners!
Worried about the bank account? — don’t be. Here is a magnificent list of free games you can download to your PC. Another list here. From these lists I have personally played Destiny 2, Final Fantasy XIV, Tera, Fortnite, Warframe, Apex Legends, Elder Scrolls, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links, & DC Universe Online and they all have been wonderful worlds to explore, and have enriched both my own self and my relationships with my loved ones who live all around the world.