Videogames often come with the stereotype of living in your mom’s basement, being particularly overweight, and never seeking a job, social opportunities, or other healthy lifestyle choices. This stereotype disappoints gamers everywhere—and when you discuss them, you probably do not know who is a gamer in the conversation. So let’s talk about something new. How can videogames be healthy for your lifestyle?
First and foremost, there are countless studies on social anxiety and gaming. Many people claim that gaming has improved their social skills and enabled them to cope with adult life. Gaming enables people to play with each other from around the world. You can tagteam with a friend, and have a great time and several jokes. Personally, gaming has supported my relationship with my boyfriend, my friends, and enabled me to meet new people. I have ventured into the gaming world of conventions, shops, and online meet ups to make new friends. My boyfriend and I have a weekly session of gaming with our friends that enable us to have laughs after hard days at work, or on the weekends. It is a fantastic social tool if you only use it moderately to socialize—meaning you still get out for network events, or meet up with your friends at the bar. And that’s the key here: moderation.
Next, it can be a great motivator for anything you need it for. They make educational games and artistic games for people who want to practice their skills. Games can also improve the sharpness of your mind, your strategic ideas, and help you learn to make quick decisions. If you really want to go the extra mile, there are many online claims that players will use “respawn” time in online games to do reps of a certain workout. For example, some people on the subreddit r/gaming have claimed they do push ups every time they are waiting for a revive to help keep themselves in shape. That’s great and healthy!
In the Witcher III the sidequest, Magic Lamp includes a logic puzzle. The game has you read an inscription which offers clues, and then you as the player need to figure out in what order to light the braziers. The quest forces you to think logically and critically in order to move forward in the game, rewarding you for using your brain and thinking.
Another thing to take into consideration is that videogames allow your imagination to flow. How often in adulthood do we have time to stop and imagine ourselves battling a dragon or being a space hero? How often do we step back from our fast-paced lives to use our imagination? For most, not often enough. But imagination is healthy. Occasionally thinking about what it would be like to pilot a Pelican (Halo: Reach) or fight bandits causing havoc in Whiterun (Elder Scrolls: Skyrim) is healthy. Occasionally stepping out of the box of our day to day lives is healthy. It can also entice amazing thoughts for a book you’re writing, or a creative endeavor you’ve embarked on. Try Googling a videogame’s art or checking out hand-crafted products on Etsy. These people are inspired by the games they play, and produce beautiful pieces. These are healthy uses of our imaginations, ultimately leading to other hobbies like painting, writing, etc. Here is an example of my customized character in Skyrim, apparently fighting a slaughter fish. I was able to pick the armor I wanted, the way my character was designed, their race. This game’s atmosphere, character design, and set up inspired me to write pieces.
I could go on and on about this subject. This is the beginning of an understanding I want to share to the world. While the stereotypes out there exist, there are plenty of gamers that use gaming for all the right reasons, and still enjoy a healthy lifestyle. I, myself, am an avid gamer. But I also work a regular 8am-5pm job, hit the gym most week days, enjoy a nice outdoor adventure every weekend, and still go out with my friends. Gaming is only part of my healthy lifestyle. I encourage others to understand that the stereotype is not all gamers, and has actually been diminished for the most part. Yeah, I might accidentally stay up one or two nights when a game comes out, but I still have the power to get up, go to work, and live. There are many ways to improve your life if you find you are one of those gamers, but just remember: gaming can be a part of a very healthy life, and it can actually inspire you to be better.
I would like to invite you to an ongoing conversation about gaming. So this is the first of many posts where I will share with you the benefits of gaming, and explain the gaming community. Thank you for your interest in understanding how gaming can be healthy. What do you use gaming for in your life? How do you want to improve your health, social practice, or just day to day? How do you think gaming can help with that?