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Are video games useful?

Among the industries that have been booming in the 21st century, the one that is most notable in entertainment is undoubtedly gaming. Games have become a daily part of many people’s lives, taking over other hobbies such as watching television and movies, and it is not hard to see why it would appeal to so many, especially people from the younger generations. Games allow one to witness a story, drown themselves in beautiful, meticulously-forged worlds, and follow through with breathtaking stories while participating in it. Through different protagonists, people can become someone they can’t in real life and indulge their imagination to the maximum while having control over their adventures and progress in gaming.


However, games have also been a source of significant controversy for a long time. Many look unfavorably at games and believe that their overwhelming results on the human mind are negative. It’s not uncommon to hear someone blame video games for violent crimes, especially a school shooting. The belief that video games cause or enhance violent impulses unfortunately was very prominent at the time and is unlikely to ever go away completely. However, despite the fact that video games have their downsides, it’s worth asking if there are any benefits to playing games that can emerge in one’s life. Arguably, video games have plenty of benefits that will come in handy outside the field itself and instead move on to real life.


But before moving on to that, what are the common disadvantages and pitfalls of gaming that are being brought up? This article groups them and explores some of them in depth. As was mentioned before, violent impulses are often attributed to video games by people that play them. It is no secret that many games have a combat system and therefore depict violence with various levels of graphics depending on the game. It is theorized that continued exposure to fictional violence, especially when one takes part in it, will desensitize them to real-life violence. Other problems include problems that arise with physical and mental health, with the former emerging because of one’s confinement to a chair while playing most games. The latter being a result of overexertion one might feel from the games will lead to the disturbance of sleep patterns and thus deprivation.



The most simple and obvious way games can benefit a person is the stress release they provide. This article explores it in more detail, showing that gaming can be quite therapeutic in regulated sessions. It is marked by a dopamine release in one’s brain, allowing people to relax and relieve their stress. This can be incredibly helpful after one comes from work and feels tired after a long day. Allowing themselves to relax and recharge before yet another hard day. Even games that are violent and may cause aggressive impulses in people to work positively, as they can allow them to release the anger that they might have bottled up throughout the day. Games are of great help in stably managing one’s own life. 



Yet another reason why gaming can be beneficial to the people who engage in it is teamwork. Online games are often based on specific activities that one has to perform in a team. Everyone has to play a part so that everyone can succeed. A classic example is a set-up of an MMO dungeon with players diving between healers, tanks, and damage dealers, with everyone having their assigned roles. Tank takes the attention of their enemies while damage dealers do their best to bring them down as quickly as possible, and healers support the rest of the party. Everyone has a role to play; if one fails, this will cause the entire group to slow down. On the one hand, this might create stress for people but also teaches them to manage responsibility which will no doubt be a boon in later life when it comes to working in groups on projects or other types of work.


Another significant benefit that comes with this is the necessity for a swift reaction, which is present in many games. This research delves into how reaction times are higher among gamers on average. The reason for this is simple, though the necessity for a quick reaction will vary based on the difficulty of the game, when in combat, one needs to learn to evade the enemy’s attack as quickly as possible. Hard modes can be unforgiving in games. Take “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance,” for example, a game based around parrying and quick reaction to the moves of one’s opponents. This applies even more strongly to online gaming when people would commonly team up to face bosses, each having to do specific mechanics. They often focus on reaction and adjustment, which increases the reactive skill. This would be useful for someone to play team sports or pilot an aircraft suited for warfare and battle in the sky.


Not all games are combat-based, however, for there are many genres that people can explore. One of those is a strategy game where the players take upon a role of a creator of an entire kingdom or space nation and is responsible for its operations, from creating various buildings to supplement the nation to training troops that can be used when fighting enemies. This can be done on numerous scales, ranging from having control over a single base to an entire nation. Those games allow people to make crucial decisions and think on many fronts. Some strategy games are turn-based, with the player having to constantly predict how their enemy would act to outplay them. Others are real-time and leave players no choice but to think quickly in their attempts to achieve an advantage. While not an accurate recreation, this can prepare someone for making important decisions and weighing the odds when it comes to business, for example. 



Another essential element of gaming that cannot be ignored is, of course, the community aspect. Many popular games are online, like MMOrpgs or team games like League of Legends. All of those involve people communicating with each other, often via voice chat and other means. For some people, this might mean nothing more than an occasional match with people who they will never meet again, but for others, this would mean lasting friendships. It is common for people to forge bonds ‘in the fires’ of battle and gain friends during the gaming process. The fact that gaming is a shared hobby makes it easier for gamers to find connections with like-minded people, which makes for another undeniable benefit of gaming, it allows people to gather together and see each other.




But of course, it is crucial to understand that there is a line where pitfalls and negative effects may outdo all of those benefits. This brings up the ever-important question of addiction and the amount of time one spends on video games because it is essential. In regulated doses, games are a way to blow off steam and stress while the player participates in some enjoyable power fantasy and can learn some skills that will be beneficial in life. However, there is always a point when gaming can become an addiction, and there are no limits on what time one would spend in the game. This leads to the problems mentioned above, notably health problems, aggression, and general loss of time one could use for something more productive, which lives to people falling behind.


Overall, I believe it’s clear that in moderation, video games are more of a help than a threat. Their primary functions, such as the alleviation of stress, work perfectly on a tired evening; they allow a sort of limbo for a person who is tired and simply wants to distract themselves with something else. The skills that games can help learn often come in handy in real life, as well. However, as with any hobby, when one knows no measure and becomes obsessed with it, it is inevitable for problems to arise. 

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