Games As Psychology: Positive Effects of Gaming

Games As Psychology Lessons:

The Positive Effects of Gaming

If you’re interested in psychology and video games, or if you are a parent, you may well have readTribune’s article on how playing games can literally blow your mind. There is a growing amount of coverage on the effects of games on the brain. And amazingly, nearly all of this coverage is negative.

Games can “Explode” your brain. Games can lead to dementia. Games can cause a third nipple to grow in your prefrontal cortex (that one is a joke, but no more or less likely than half the scaremongering articles online about gaming’s negative psychological effects). would like to go on record as saying that yes, games can cause negative side effects. If one plays the same game day in and day out, the lack of exposure to new experiences will lead to negative side effects. But that is one hell of an IF. And it is an “if” that can be applied to virtually anything. IF you read all day and do nothing else there will be negative effects. If you only eat carrots, there will be negative effects. If all you do is exercise every day non stop and do nothing else, then yes, there will be negative side effects. And yet we want our children (and ourselves) to read, eat carrots and do exercise.

What good are these games?!  Answer: A lot of good. 

Images of: king arthur 2, soul calibur 5, final fantasy x3 2. 

You see, there is a very basic law of human nature. It’s a law that could be stated as “Variety is the spice of life.” Or it could be explained by saying that the hippocampus in the brain grows as we experience new things and as we learn. The more we learn and the more new activities we take part in, the more our brain grows; the less activities we take part in, the less our brain grows.

What does this mean?

It means that if all you do all day is play one game in one way (for instance, you only ever play multiplayer shooting games) then yes, your brain will shrink. On the other hand, if you play a variety of games that engage your brain in new ways such that you are regularly learning something new, your brain will expand.

Games. They CAN shrink your brain. On the other hand, they CAN GROW your brain.

It’s for this reason that has begun to investigate the different positive psychological effects of games playing (you can find the first article of Game of Life by clicking here). And they are many and varied, from learning to work in a team and communicating more effectively (from multiplayer First Person Shooters where players often speak into a mic) to timing and coordination (for instance, in racing games and the combos of fighting games) and even emotional empathy (in games with strong stories like Shadow of the Colossus and the legendary Final Fantasy VII).

There is no evil entity behind the scenes controlling gaming. It is exactly the same as everything else in life. If you do it too much, it will harm you. If you do it in a healthy degree and engage in gaming in a variety of different ways, it will benefit you. And if there is any doubt of this, I suggest researchers take a long hard look at the average gamer’s exam results. For last time I checked, gamers are far from stupid.

Thanks for reading.


Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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