benefits of video games

Benefits of Video Games: Are they Simply an Escape from Reality?

I’ve had Cam Adair on the AoL podcast a couple of times since I’ve originally written this post back on September 14th, 2010. If you’re not familiar with Cam, he’s founder of the company Game Quitters.

He created Game Quitters to help people get off the addiction of playing video games.

Just like any other addiction, gaming addiction is serious and needs to be dealt with. But for other folks, such as myself, gaming is a way to take a break from our craft and other work of the day.

Some folks watch sports, UFC, or hang out with friends when they’re taking a break. Being an introvert, that wasn’t necessarily my calling when I was younger. Over time, I’ve just learned to game when I have some down time. And I’m not talking little Facebook or phone games – I mean the real deal on a console!

In this old post, I shared why it’s ok to be a gamer as an entrepreneur. Heck, even Elon Musk is a fan of gaming!

Setting the Stage:

“Oh, c’mon!”, I exclaimed as I got shot in the head for the umpteenth time today. “Man, that dude is camping. Can someone take him out?”, I asked as I spawned yet again. “Fine, I’ll get him.”

Today is September 9.14.10 – release day of Halo: Reach. At any one time, there has been 500,000+ gamers on LIVE enjoying they’re brand new toy. Young and old alike, they are definitely enjoying themselves – as I have for the past half day already (I was in a midnight line for it).

Today’s games are so much more than they once were. Obviously, the video game industry is exploding. People of all ages are enjoying them, whether on a computer, game console or the Internet. If asked what people most think about them, there are several one worded responses that a person might use to describe them: Real (Almost). Thrilling. Heart Throbbing. Competitive. Imaginative. Addictive. Yes, all of these words describe the games in the marketplace today, but why is it that it’s becoming more of the social norm?

Studies show different reasons why people play video games. What is it really that makes people so enthralled by these creations, that they don’t mind spending countless hours on them?

Let’s take a look.

Escape from Stress:

This is the reason that most people who aren’t gamers think that those who play actually play. And this might be true for certain game types.

The daily grind can be very daunting and stressful to say the least. A video game, however, can be a place for a player to “lose themselves”. Because, in the games, they feel the bliss and release of being in control. After they hit the power switch, they are in a virtual world that makes sense to them — a place where they can be whoever or whatever they choose without worrying about how they look or act. This and the fact that they don’t have to worry about how any other of their daily lives.

But this isn’t the only reason.

In Search for Social Lives

In days past, people have played various games to interact with people. Be it basketball, golf, or Dungeons & Dragons, games have always given people a way of learning about and getting closer to family, friends or even dates.

To many people who play video games, they are an extension of this. As video games have developed over the years so have their abilities to bring people closer to each other. Xbox LIVE can give a person an opportunity to interact with their team by yelling orders, but it can also give them a medium to just chat and relax with people on the other end – male and female alike.

Basically, gamers today believe that playing video games can be a venue for developing their social lives.

A great example of this is Franz Cavatorta in session 85 who has gotten together with his gamer friends in real life multiple times during vacation and holiday.

Practicing Skills:

In recent years, the U.S. military has taken to using video games to conduct practice campaigns. There are different reasons for this:

1.) To save money
2.) Promote safety
3.) The ability to control all aspects of the campaign.
4.) Keep things simple.

Video games simply provide an advantage over older simulators.

Recently I also saw a video presentation via TED about how gamers could use their skills in solving some of the biggest problems in our world today. Jane McGonigal on how gaming make a better world. This leads into the next section.

Exercising the Brain:

Gamers will also tell you that whatever game they play, they’re brain is being used (alot more than can be said for most TV watchers!).

Be it hand-eye coordination or developing and executing strategy, games offer a way for gamers to practice skills that they might not be able to learn in school or on the job. In a sense they’re building their intuition – their “non-mind” thinking. However, as always, this shouldn’t be confused with being smart. Being smart and having knowledge isn’t the same thing as gaining intuition through experience.

Obviously in the future, with the introduction of Wii Sports, exercising the body might be just as normal as exercising the mind on any given entertainment system.

WARNING: Gaming can be Addictive!

With all of these different points of view of how gaming can be beneficial to your life, it can also be harmful.

Just like anything else in life, if you find yourself playing games too much, you might need to quit cold turkey. For me, I know I can quit when I want to in a given session. True, I don’t stop until I’m at a good stopping point – but I know when to turn it off.

Unfortunately, there are a ton of folks

For whatever reason, if you’re looking to quit your addiction to video games – check out my friend Cam Adair’s first AoL interview or his follow up Silver Edition here.

Wrap Up:

There are multiple reasons why people play video games. While it is still being determined if there are really negative repercussions of playing them to escape reality (and I believe there are), there are other reasons that gamers play them and they will tell you as so if you happen to test them on it. As anyone that normally uses Facebook will tell you, it is perfectly normal for people to develop and maintain relationships online. It is also a place for people to entertain themselves with the added feature of challenges for the mind. In fact, it might help to solve world problems. With the introduction of Wii Sports, video games have also become a way to physically exercise as well.

If you play video games, why do you??


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1 reply
  1. Sara
    Sara says:

    I can say about me that I play video games just to escape from the reality for a particular time. I enjoy in the fantasy world where I can be a hero with a large sword that saves the world. The gaming clears my mind from the everyday worries.


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