More to video games than meets the eye


By Luke Vest

For several decades, video games have provided an enjoyable hobby for millions of people. The effects of video games on a player’s health have long been debated. There are many concerns over the impacts playing video games has on players’ physical health and their social skills, and many people typically judge frequent gamers as being lazy and unproductive.

However, a recent study conducted by University researcher Chennan Liu has shown that playing video games for long periods of time actually has health benefits.

Some of the findings in this study showed that frequent gamers, those who play games more than 35 hours per week, are often associated with having better health and more total years of education. While some may question the validity of such a study, there are some clear benefits of playing video games with which I have first-hand experience. 

For one, video games have shaped my ability to strategize. 

For years, my siblings and I played the computer game, “Age of Mythology,” where players build civilizations based off historic cultures and send their armies to battle. The game requires players to delegate groups of citizens to accomplish certain tasks, such as harvesting crops and building houses. 

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    Time is very valuable in order to outplay your opponent in this game, so you have to meticulously distribute citizens in the most effective way possible in order to maximize resources.

    While playing this game, I would have a slew of tasks I needed to complete within a certain amount of time. As such, I would find myself delegating tasks in ways so that I could finish everything in a timely fashion.

    These strategizing skills that I used in the game carried over into my everyday life, helping me become more organized whenever I have a certain amount of tasks to complete. 

    For example, these days I have to decide how much time I want to spend studying for each class so that I maximize my productivity and still have to time for the things that I enjoy doing. 

    Aside from strategy, this game teaches history. Before playing “Age of Mythology,” I had no idea who the Ancient Greeks were. I can still recite to you from memory the Egyptian gods, Osiris, Anubis and Ra because the game allowed you to use these characters to utilize their special powers. 

    While the game taught me valuable skills, there are many other games that I have equally benefitted from. Some other types of video games I have played have helped me improve my hand-eye coordination as well as my cognitive skills. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced these types of benefits from gaming.

    Another benefit of playing video games that I’ve experienced is it provides an effective way of relieving stress. For some people, myself included, video games can allow them to temporarily forget about their problems and shift their focus onto an alternate reality. 

    Students can apply this to their own lives by occasionally finding time to play video games as a source of relief and entertainment.

    Some people think that playing video games for hours is a sign of laziness. While, yes, sitting in a chair actively engaged in a video game is not necessarily strenuous physical activity, it is better than spending that same time watching TV. Many people watch TV for long periods, just as others play video games, but video games are more beneficial because they require the user to become actively involved, whereas watching TV is a more passive activity.  

    However, despite these personal benefits, video games are something that will always be the subject of scrutiny. I believe this is because they are something that many people spend large amounts of time doing, 

    All I know is that video games have positive benefits and I have seen these benefits in my own life, and others have expressed experiencing these benefits to me as well.

    The influence of video games is readily apparent in popular culture, where Mario and Ash Ketchum are some of the greatest heroes of children and adults alike. So when you see someone playing a computer game, know that they are not being unproductive; they are utilizing a resource that can teach them valuable skills, entertain and relieve stress. 

    Luke is a freshman in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected].