Video Games: Not Just Fun

by Christopher McCarthy, age 11
Video Games: Not Just Fun Christopher likes to write essays and computer programming.

“Video games also strengthen connections between different areas of the brain, which is helpful and beneficial towards memory and reflexes like hand-eye coordination.”

Did you know that video games are not just for fun? Actually, video games can be used to heal mental and physical illnesses, solve important problems relevant to the development of technology and medicine, and video game experts (gamers) can actually learn new things faster than others! Video games also strengthen connections between different areas of the brain, which is helpful and beneficial towards memory and reflexes like hand-eye coordination.

For example, some video games are helpful for the brain and help children get a ‘head start’ on learning (Playkids app, ABCmouse, et cetera…). Also, according to a recent scientific study conducted by scientists at Nature, people who are video game experts have an ‘increase of grey matter and increased functional connectivity between the attentional and sensorimotor networks’, which means that gamers can learn new things faster than other people who don’t play as much. Additionally, gamers can take out stress on fictional and made up characters, leading to a better emotional state. This demonstrates that people who play video games can lead a better lifestyle and can be in better mental health.

Video games can be used for development of medicine, technology, and other sciences. Recently, players of a video game called Foldit unraveled the structure of a complex retroviral protease, an enzyme that cuts apart proteins of different kinds, allowing scientists to create a cure for the virus it was a part of. This kind of video game use is known as citizen science, where people solve puzzles that cannot be solved by computers, but they think they are playing a game. This has been used to identify different wildlife calls, measure light pollution, and more! This improves the state of the world overall and is done through video games.

Likewise, video games can be therapeutic, treating mental and physical illnesses. One team of developers created a ‘Patient Empowerment Exercise Video Game’ designed to improve resilience, self-esteem, and confidence. Another way video games can be therapeutic is that developers can channel their emotions into their games, relieving problems.

As demonstrated, with further research, video games have the potential to help the world and individuals in many ways. As shown in the second paragraph, they already are, albeit in unexpected ways. Video games have the potential to unlock new discoveries, but they also can degrade the brain.

There are some games that are bad for mental health. In FPS (first-person shooter) games, players begin to develop violent tendencies the longer they play, and can become addicted, only worsening this problem. There is no way to fix this besides simply avoiding these games entirely, although they can be addictive.

As has been shown previously, video games are not just for fun, but can be used to help individuals and the world in many different ways. Also, video games have been used to cure mental and physical illnesses. In the future, we may see that video games are used to solve problems with civilization before they become serious.

 

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