Five Ways Gaming Is Destroying (And Saving) Our Health

If you play video games, then you’ve already heard: gaming is horrible for your health. No, it doesn’t have any impact on physical or mental well-being. No, the negative effects are minimal compared to the positive. No, games are good for you. No,…Yeah. You get the idea. No one seems capable of agreeing on whether or not gaming’s actually bad for you, or if it’s any better or worse than the wide selection of other technologically-oriented activities with which we occupy ourselves these days. To be honest, that’s probably because the issue – as is so often the case – isn’t a dichotomy. There are certain elements of gaming that, without some form of moderation, will have a negative effect on the player. At the same time, there are plenty of merits to gaming as well, and they shouldn’t be ignored.

[heading]The Bad[/heading]

  • It’s Making Us More Sedentary: Alright, we’ll start with one of the more common complaints about video games: they’re making us significantly lazier. Instead of spending time outside, playing sports, or exercising, we’re simply sitting on our arses in front of a computer screen, something which leads to a huge selection of rather serious health problems. I can’t deny that video games are an inherently sedentary pursuit…but so is pretty much everything else we do these days. Just like Netflix, Facebook, or pretty much anything else on the Internet, gaming should only be done in moderation.
  • Eyestrain Is A Constant Problem Ever gotten a headache after spending several hours playing League of Legends? You aren’t alone. Excessive computer use can easily result in headaches and eyestrain, and may even result in long-term vision damage. Again, this is something that can easily be balanced out by moderating how much time you spend in-game (and positioning yourself a little better when you play).
  • Our Sleep Habits Are In The Toilet: Tell me, which of you are familiar with the following scenario: it’s midnight, and you need to work the next morning. Unfortunately for you, a friend you haven’t spoken to in months just logged on to League of Legends. Naturally, you two need to play a few games – you might not get another chance to play with him for a very long time. Suddenly, it’s four in the morning, you work in two hours, and you’ve just played your fifth game on Summoner’s Rift. Oops.  It’s incredibly easy to simply tell someone they should moderate how much they game. The unfortunate reality is that once you get caught up in something like League, it’s horrendously easy to lose track of time. I’ve had many a morning where I woke up sleep deprived simply because I spent too long gaming the night before, as have my friends.
  • We Aren’t Eating Right: Just as video games make it all too easy to forget to sleep, they can also contribute to horrendously poor eating habits. I mean, who has time to actually prepare a healthy meal while in the midst of an intense game of Team Fortress 2 or a World of Warcraft raid? It’s far easier to just grab a few bags of chips, McDonalds, or some Pizza Pops – even if our bodies will hate us for it in the long run.
  • It’s Making Us Hate People Last, but certainly not least, games like League of Legends don’t exactly provide us with the best cross-section of humanity. More than a few people have become misanthropes as a direct result. Take it from me, that’s not a healthy attitude to have; the stress that arises as a result of dealing with such individuals certainly doesn’t help much, either.

[heading]The Good[/heading]

  • Gaming Improves Co-Ordination And Spatial Skills: First among gaming’s good qualities is the fact that it actually goes a long way towards bettering our reflexes, hand-eye coordination and spatial skills. Depending on the type of game and the style of gameplay; reaction time and situational awareness could remarkably improve as a result of extended time in front of the screen.
  • It Transforms Us Into Better Problem-Solvers: Strategy games in particular go a long way towards making us better at micromanagement, planning, and logistics. There’s something about commanding a virtual army and using it to bring foes to their knees that clicks with our minds and transforms us into better problem-solvers and faster decision-makers, while puzzle games go a long way towards encouraging gamers to think critically.
  • The Right Games Actually Encourage Physical Activity: We shouldn’t neglect mentioning consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Wii U or titles like Wii Fit and Just Dance. Contrary to having the player merely sit on their rump in front of a screen, these games actively encourage the gamer to participate in the gameplay, in some cases even rewarding strenuous physical activity.
  • We Can Learn To Work More Effectively With Others: I challenge you to find someone in any of the top-tier raiding guilds in any MMO who isn’t capable of working efficiently as part of a team. That’s the thing about MMORPGs: the social element is a huge aspect of the game. As a result, people who spend a lot of time in such games (usually) pick up a few people skills. I say usually because, well…everything in moderation, guys.
  • It Relieves Stress: Perhaps most importantly, video games are great tools for relieving stress. Given that stress has basically been proven to shorten your expectancy, why this is beneficial should really speak for itself.

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