Level Up your Wellbeing – the effect of video games on your health

The concept of a video game has become an increasingly popular one over the past few decades, and with this rise in renown has come a negative reputation, particularly among parents and those who do not play as frequently. Rumours that video games increase aggression and belligerence, are that they have a negative effect on a student’s grades, have circulated since the start of the century, and probably thousands of articles and websites can be found at the stroke of a few keys, both supporting and debunking these myths.

However, the sites which do support these myths generically seem to be notably older than those which argue against it, since more recent studies have shown that video games do not have a negative effect on attitude or intelligence in any way, unless the player becomes addicted. In fact, scientists have found that players of video games often have stronger problem-solving skills, greater ability to work as a team, better awareness, and more adept hand-eye co-ordination and dexterity. In an experiment to see whether video games could have a positive impact involving surgeons, the surgeons who played video games averaged 63% steadier hands than those who did not.

Furthermore, with increasing awareness regarding mental health over the last decade, it’s important to mention that studies have found that children who play video games are more likely to have better social skills, due to their ability to connect with friends online. As part of research conducted by the University of South Carolina, it was found that video games can have a physically positive impact on the areas of the brain responsible for processing and learning information. To put that simply, the brainpower of the learning and processing centres of the brain, the hippocampus and cerebral cortex respectively, is physically increased, so this can lead to better grades academically.

In recent years, video games have become a recognised sector of the income generation of many countries, and with over 2.5 billion players worldwide, the amount of money the sector generated globally in 2019 – £150 billion – should not come as a surprise. To compare, in the financial year lasting between April 2022 to March 2023, the BBC generated an income of £5.7 billion, over 25 times less than the global gaming industry. Professions in video games, and by extension content creation or streaming, are often admired for their innovativeness and adaptability. Shigeru Miyamoto, game director and an executive of Nintendo, the 4th most successful video game brand of all time, with a gaming revenue of £14 billion in 2022, famously said “Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.”

It is critical to note that there comes a point at which video games become hugely negative; addiction is a serious problem and should be treated as such. Whilst playing video games is an enjoyable and beneficial experience, it is deeply unhealthy to play nine hours every night, to the point where it is all you think about at work or school the next day. That said, the benefit of video games cannot be felt to the same extent if you are overly strict about keeping your time online to only an hour or two each week. There is a balance that must be struck, but once it is then the true potential of video games can finally be unlocked.