Video gaming is good for everyone because it is useful for rehabilitation, relieves stress, and helps the elderly. Have you ever played a video game? Did you get totally immersed in it, and it made you feel wonderful afterwards? There have been recent studies and tons of articles written which show that, indeed, video games are good for everyone! Not just your usual young players (ages 10-17), and not just the more hard-core gamers (ages 18 – 25), but now these studies link video games to success in more than just fun times, and show that these type of games can be beneficial for all types of people, from young to elderly, and from healthy to the impaired. Yes, video gaming is good for everyone!
It used to be that only young people were associated with playing video games. That is no longer the norm, as studies are now seeing a surge of middle-aged people and even the elderly benefiting from these types of games. Interactive gaming is a hot topic of course, with the introduction of games like “Words With Friends” available on various platforms such as a smart phone or Facebook. This game is readily available to download as a stand-alone game on tablet computers and regular PC’s also. Households can get the whole family involved in this, just like playing the old-fashioned Scrabble game around your kitchen table. There is a whole source of video games that people of all ages can enjoy together (Weed, 2012)!
Even stay-at-home mothers are getting into the gaming world more easily, with simple games that they can use to interact with their toddlers on their PC’s or video game systems to help them learn rudimentary things such as reading, writing and arithmetic. These type of games are great attention-getters to keep toddlers entertained while in line at stores (via cell phone apps), or just to keep them entertained while a mother takes a well-needed rest but doesn’t want to plunk her child down in front of a DVD or video on television like in past years. These children are actually getting engrossed and learning at the same time, while the mother does other tasks such as cleaning, cooking, or even taking a well-deserved break (Lopez, March 2012).
Video games benefit the elderly, as shown in a study that most have not even thought about! Something to ponder is that back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there were many games in bars like PONG or PACMAN. This was the dawning age of the video game empire. And many of our parents at that moment in time were in those bars, enjoying the company of their peers. They played those games, spent their quarters, and had fun. In time, however, video games became more and more intricate and thus many older people tended to drift away from those moments of fun and escape. Perhaps they still longed to play those games, but were afraid to try the new formats. Those parents now are 30 years older and thought their gaming days were long gone.
Video gaming has been shown to be very beneficial to the elderly retirement community through local senior recreation departments in many cities. Studies recently have found that the elder community of retirees over 65 do benefit from video game activities. These studies were commented on by Katharine Ross, the Director of an online Senior Magazine called Senior Guide Magazine. She states: “It’s clear that video games are becoming a popular addition to a large number of retirement community activity rooms and senior event calendars” (Ross, 2010, Paragraph 10). Some of the more popular games to play have been in senior living communities that have games like WII Bowling, where people actually feel that they are part of the game, because players make an ‘avatar’ of themselves to play the game with, and their movements are recognized and played on the screen. This is known as “motion gaming” rather than the common “button pushing” of other game controllers. The Nintendo WII and the XBOX 360 both have motion detection system games that do the same thing.
After even just a few gaming sessions in these retirement communities, it has been found to have become a great success. There is a noted boost in balance, coordination and strength, which could help prevent an elderly person from getting the dreaded fall, where they break a hip or worse. This also makes them feel more involved and not just becoming a wall fixture in retirement homes. They are actually part of the community and part of the “in” crowd again, like reliving their past! This helps them both in the physical and psychological aspects of their lives (Zafar, Feb 2011). Not only does video gaming that involves movement help the elderly, but actually Allstate Insurance Company recently put out a new program for those aged 57 – 80, which challenges older drivers to upgrade and hone their skills in a video format.
It improves their driving skills by offering a way to improve reaction time and memory. You drive on a virtual test track, and objects and different scenarios are thrust upon you to get through to the next level. Most who have taken this amazing course have gone on to be better drivers and driving longer. A strong point is to test the older driver’s field of vision, which can be done in a safe environment with this type of video game. It’s fun, and helps keep clients for the insurance company also! (Potter, October 2008)
Video gaming doesn’t end with just the pleasure part of it all, there are aspects to it that even benefit disabled persons! One of these important discoveries is the use in physical therapy. Stroke victims, whose limbs are not working in coordination with their brains, often have problems moving their limbs for simple tasks. In the past, this meant a long, drawn-out process of physical rehabilitation at a special facility. Nowadays, many rehabilitation programs include special video games designed to work with home video equipment to supplement a person’s rehab progress. The use of virtual reality gaming helps with arm functions (picking up a cup, using a WII controller on a WII game) or even doing word games, which involve memory, often a function lost when a person has a stroke.
There are microphones in WII controllers, which recognize words, and special games are made where the person has to practice speaking these words over and over to become clearer in their speaking. This both saves time and money in the long run – freeing up the therapist to treat other patients, and less money spent on rehabilitation for the insurance companies. It’s a win-win situation any way studies look at it! The jury is still out on how well this really works, but from what experts can see, it is making a dent in the process and is more fun for the person going through it and they can do this in their own home surroundings (Anderson, April 2011).
Lastly, the benefits of playing video games can be seen in all ages, by the reduction of stress! It has been shown that playing video games brings on a reduction of the stress-producing hormone called Cortisol. By reducing this hormone, stress is lowered and a calmer demeanor is produced and boosts people’s self-confidence levels. People that were in a depressed mood before playing a video game were given a game that was fairly easy to beat. Once beaten, these people had a huge boost in self-confidence, thus lifting their moods out of that sadness. For example, people at a call-center played a game, which involved choosing the singular smiling faces among many other depressing-looking faces on a screen as quickly as they could. After the game was completed, more employees felt that there was a more positive attitude in doing their jobs when they did well in the game ( Nauert, 2007).
This reduction in stress was also seen in a study where children who have violent tendencies because of a stressful situation in their lives played certain video games. These children, usually aged from 12 to 14, were more likely to gravitate towards more adult rated “M” (for Mature) games, with more violence in them. But once they played these games, they tended to take out their aggressions on the characters they were playing against in the games, rather than their friends or peers on the street. Ultimately, the parents have the last word on how their children will be allowed to play certain games, but in this study, it did show that when given the chance to beat up a fictional character on the video screen, or beat up a real person, they chose to take out their aggression on the video screen, thus helping both the child and society with an ever-growing problem (News Staff Science 2.0, July 2007).
Some people still might argue that video gaming rots your brain, but there is no doubt that video gaming can be helpful to people of all ages. One cannot dismiss the findings in studies on this subject. In the past 30 years, this has come a very long way, from the simple joystick controllers of the original Atari systems to high-tech versions played on your Apple I Pad today, with popular games like Angry Birds. From rehabilitation to stress relief, and from toddlers to the elderly, there are not many people around nowadays that can truly say that they have never played a video game of one type or another. Video gaming is good for everyone!
Weed, J. (2012, April 20). There are loads of video games that all ages can enjoy together. Retrieved from http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2018025676_ptteentween21.html
Lopez, L. (2012, March 15). More moms turn to video games. Retrieved from http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/tech/Video-Game-Moms-142869815.html
Zafar, A. (2011, February 13). Physical video games may help the elderly psychologically. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/physical-video-games-may-help-the-elderly-psychologically/71184/
Ross, K. (2010, July 01). Video games helping seniors stay young and healthy. Retrieved from http://assisted-living.benchmarkseniorliving.com/video-games-helping-seniors-stay-young-and-healthy/
Potter, N. (2008, October 27). Video games help elderly drivers. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=6121775&page=1
Anderson, P. (2011, September 14). Video games may help stroke rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/749703 ( you have to belong to this website to view – or just google the title name ! I belong to it ! )
Earnshaw, R. (2011, April 17). Wii video games help rehabilitation patients. Retrieved from http://www.nwitimes.com/niche/get-healthy/fitness/wii-video-games-help-rehabilitation-patients/article_2bad04b4-313b-53d7-97c0-ac2f7b5d7257.html
Nauert, R. P. (2007 , October 24). Video games lower stress hormone. Retrieved from