Does Gaming Negatively Affect the Mental Health of Gamers?

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CJ Fisher, Contributor

Enemy UAV inbound! Victory royale! My ultimate is ready! Gaming is an extremely popular hobby to pass time. It’s one of the biggest industries around. From the games themselves, in-game purchases, or even esports, it’s a big moneymaker.

Does gaming really have a negative effect on our mental health? I think the exact opposite, it has a positive effect on us. Video games increase cognitive and social skills, give people a place to be, a place to make friends; and it’s therapeutic.

Gaming can help and develop cognitive abilities in a person. Video games are great because they provide positive stimulation to our brains. It gets us going and interacting with the game. The strategy and puzzle genres are perfect examples. They challenge an individual to really start thinking about ways they can solve the problem at hand, find multiple solutions or find the most efficient and efficient solution. Furthermore, a study made by frontiersin shows that video games do increase our cognitive abilities. 

Similarly, video games such as “Detroit Become Human” or “The Walking Dead” are choice-based games, which can affect the outcome of the story. In this case, video games can also improve decision making. With games like these, the player really has to think about what is the best choice: what will give me the happiest outcome or what will give me the outcome that I want most?  Both cognitive thinking and decision making are great traits to enhance. We improve these characteristics by gaming, and that’s why I believe gaming to have more of a positive side effect than negative. 

Some may think that video games keep us cooped up in the house away from humanity and stop us from socializing. Actually, that’s not the case. The gaming community is a great place. Personally, I have made many groups of friends just from playing games. I still play with a group of online friends that I’ve known for four years. Video games give us another place to socialize. 

Physically socializing may not be the way to go for many, and instead, they can resort to the internet to talk to others. It gives people a chance to be social when they cannot any other time. With that being said, video games can increase a person’s sociability. According to apa, “More than 70 percent of gamers play with a friend, and millions of people worldwide participate in massive virtual worlds through video games such as ‘Farmville’ and ‘World of Warcraft.’” That percentage proves that gamers are socializing and not keeping to themselves, which can cause negative effects on mental health.

Some people connect to the Internet just for the network connection. However, there is another reason people connect to the Internet. They connect to it to make other connections. The Internet is a place to make friends.  Here are some numbers to support that as provided by pewresearch, “More than half of teens have made new friends online, and a third of them (36%) say they met their new friend or friends while playing video games. Among boys who have made friends online, 57% have done so by playing video games online (compared with just 13% of girls who have done so). Nearly a quarter (23%) of teens report that they would give a new friend their gaming handle as contact information. Fully 38% of teen boys would share a gaming handle, compared with 7% of teen girls.”

Looking at those numbers, it’s apparent that video games allow for new friendships to be built and enhanced. Socializing with people and having a good time is positive for your mental health and that helps support the fact that video games are, in fact, good for your state of mind.  

Video games are often seen as violent, inappropriate, and can influence an individual to do bad things. According to thenationshealth, “Many Americans continue to believe that video games cause gun violence, with the issue raised again after recent U.S. mass shootings. The 2017 Pew study found that 65% of adults believed video games contribute a great deal or a fair amount to gun violence. The belief was even higher among people 65 and older, with 82% of seniors making the connection.” 

When I hear that, I think that can be a little exaggerated and not necessarily correct. Video games are stimulating but, more importantly, they are therapeutic.  Perhaps life is difficult for some, you had a bad day at work, or maybe you have some stress built up. 

Video games are a way for people to relax and even escape from the reality of life. It’s a safe haven away from the real world where you can do anything you want. Every day, even up until now, I personally find that playing video games eases my mind. After a long day of school, jumping online and connecting with my online friends is the greatest feeling ever. It’s a good getaway from life. 

Since video games are therapeutic, it actually helps our mentality rather than hurt it. According to ncbi, “Therapists can also integrate video games into other therapeutic techniques. For example, this writer once conducted a session where this writer and the client were playing a racing video game in session. The client commented that it reminded him of when he used to play videogames with his father. This writer asked the client what he would tell his father if he was also playing the racing game at that moment. The client talked about his sadness and said that he would tell his father that he misses him.”  Video games are therapeutic. What does therapy do? It helps strengthen or heal an individual’s mentality. That right there is exactly why video games are good for the mind of a gamer. Instead of hiring a therapist for large amounts of money, you can simply play a game for free or for a small price and get just as good benefits. 

With that being said, it’s even more obvious now that video games are good for a person’s mental state. It’s therapeutic, gives people a place to socialize to make friends and increase their sociability skills and it can increase one’s cognitive and decision-making abilities. So do video games have any negative effects on gamers? The answer is no.