Gaming is a popular hobby and pastime for many people. It can be played on dedicated gaming consoles, PCs or smartphones and is a multibillion dollar industry. It can be a way to relax after a stressful day, exercise, socialise with friends or even make a living through streaming and content creation. However, gaming has both positive and negative effects on one’s quality of life, and it is important to know how to play responsibly.
The participants in this study described a variety of purposes that gaming serves in their lives, including relaxation, exerting control and challenging themselves. For example, Mark and Kurt said gaming allows them to unwind after work by letting them “control in-game characters and have fun.” Games can also serve as an outlet for frustration or anxiety, providing a chance to escape from real world problems by focusing on virtual ones. Some participants also mentioned that gaming provides a sense of socialisation, particularly in multiplayer games.
Many of the skills that gamers develop through gameplay are highly transferable to real-world tasks, such as planning, analysing risk and reward, and being able to think strategically. This can be especially true for online multiplayer games that allow players to interact with people from all over the world. In addition, the fast-paced action of some games may improve attention allocation – which is the ability to focus on a target and ignore distracting information (Hubert-Wallander, Green & Bavelier, 2010).
Participants also reported that gaming can improve communication skills as they learn how to communicate with their teammates and interact with other players in real time. This can be especially useful in online multiplayer games that enable users to speak over a microphone. Furthermore, the social interaction that occurs while playing gaming can lead to improved interpersonal skills, including empathy and compassion.
Another benefit of gaming is that it helps with problem-solving skills, such as evaluating options and making changes to strategy. This can be particularly beneficial for open-ended games that provide players with a blank canvas from which they can explore a range of possibilities, such as World of Warcraft, Pokemon, Final Fantasy and Portal (Prensky, 2012).
In addition to the cognitive benefits, gaming can also improve motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination. This is because many games require the user to quickly respond to changing conditions in order to successfully complete the game. Furthermore, games that require the use of a mouse and keyboard can help with fine motor skills.
Although gaming is a popular activity worldwide, it has been linked to negative behaviours such as violence and aggression. These links are largely due to the fact that most gaming companies focus on developing games that cater to a predominantly male audience. This can often lead to over-sexualised female characters and a lack of non-male, non-white characters to play as.