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The Benefits of Playing Video Games

The war of gaming pros and cons has been waging for a while. And I’m sure you gamers are tired of seeing and reading about it. So let’s talk about the benefits of playing video games for once.

Before getting acquainted with the GameCube, I held a certain prejudice against video games and those who played them.

  • Waste of time.
  • Addictive.
  • Physically unhealthy.
  • Means for avoiding social contact.
  • Psychologically unhealthy.

You know what’s funny and hypocritical about this list? The same things can be said about reading or writing, and we all know I’ve been big into those for a while.

Then my husband cajoled me into playing The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on his GameCube. I had virtually never held a paddle before. And before you object, Wii remotes do not count as paddles. While they have their place, that place is not in my hand. Can’t wait to get wireless paddles.

Since then I’ve played Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, dallied around with Hyrule Warriors, designed a genderbent cosplay from TP, and significantly improved at Super Smash. I’m hooked – in a very good way.

Me and Hubby at the 2015 SLC Comic Con

Skeptics, sympathizers, behold: The (gasp) Benefits of Playing Video Games.

1) Playing Video Games Improves Problem-Solving Skills

Anyone who has played a Legend of Zelda game knows about the legendary puzzles. When I first started playing, they were really tough! But as I’ve become accustomed to how the games work, I take care to find the goal, analyze my surroundings, and use what I find to achieve said goal.

Another strategy: watching Hubby play the game I plan to play next. He thinks I’m doing it for entertainment. Reality is that I’m taking mental notes. Entertaining mental notes.

Better problem-solving skills in video games translates to better problem-solving skills in real life. Like financial management and other stressful “real-adult” situations. You also learn to think ahead in order to avoid those situations.

2) Playing Video Games Improves Reflexes

Anyone who has seen me play sports can tell you that my hand-eye coordination is generally less than inspiring. I’m sorry, but I’m better at doing things in my head than telling my body to do them. Furthermore, I don’t always know what “doing” is supposed to be.

Oh, a ball hurtling toward me. Ooh! I know this one! I’m supposed to catch it! Hand – catch the ball.” *smack* “Ah right, we don’t have the ‘catch’ thing down.” Story. of. my. life.

Playing video games improves reflexes - even in sports

Getting improved reflexes from video games takes practice, experience with the controls, and focus. But the hand-eye coordination gets strengthened.

Life lesson: Want improved reflexes? Start paying attention, practice, and trust your body. It’s actually pretty smart when you let it take over.

3) Playing Video Games Improves One’s Ability to Cope with Stressful Situations

Playing video games improves one's ability to cope with stress

This one seems like a bit of a paradox, doesn’t it? After all, “gamer rage” is pretty infamous. And maybe some people think more clearly when they’re in a fury. Myself, I can’t think straight when I’m frustrated. Frustration leads to failure and more frustration.

For example, it took me approximately 9 GAME OVERs to beat Bongo-Bongo from Ocarina of Time.

Only when I learned to breathe, stay cool, and use a strategic approach did I start experiencing real success. Like getting through all 4 stages of the final battle with Ganon in TP without dying once. Hubby’s coaching helped, too – read more on that in the next point.

This one has a pretty obvious life application. When the going gets tough, don’t sit down and throw a tantrum. Breathe. Eat chocolate. Take a nap if necessary. And once you’re not in an emotional tizzy, forge ahead for success.

4) Playing Video Games Improves One’s Ability to Take Advice

Playing video games improves one's ability to take advice

I used to have a hard time taking advice from anyone. I’m generally classified as “independent” and “headstrong.” Classic first-born. While I was playing Wind Waker, Hubby would give me tips on beating bosses, and I would get so darn frustrated at him. “Just let me figure it out!” I would eventually say with a raised voice.

Of course, his advice was always of the helpful kind. Which I would ignore and turn to a game guide to “figure it out myself.”

Sometimes in life you need to turn to a higher authority. While adventure is important, it’s more important to recognize when you need help.

5) Playing Video Games Makes Good Couple Bonding Time

Playing video games makes for great couple bonding time

Ladies, gentlemen – if your spouse is a gamer and you’re not – or vice versa – consider finding a game you can play together. I recommend Hyrule Warriors. Or Super Smash (preferably co-op mode). Gaming together gives you virtual, but still real, goals to accomplish together. This naturally leads to improved communication, and gives you two time having fun together. ‘Nuff said.

*Though I specified “couples,” video games are also a great way to make and spend time with friends. Whether it’s talking about the game or playing it – that’s quality socializing.*

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