Gaming as a hobby offers a range of surprising benefits. Indeed, some of the most common criticisms of gaming have been undermined by studies showing its pros.Here we take a look at some of the unexpected positives to playing online games.

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The growth of the gaming industry has drawn attention to the idea that gaming could quite possibly help improve our attention spans, something that arguably deserves celebration. Games have actually been shown to strengthen our abilities to concentrate and engage with tasks, as they involve processing an array of information quickly and adapting to new challenges posed with quick-thinking and rapid reactions. They often demand an ability to multitask and retain information which might be needed to succeed later in the game. It has a clear sense of active engagement which perhaps, by way of comparison, is missing in other passive forms of entertainment like watching television.

A peer-reviewed study from the University of Rochester has shown that gamers possess significantly improved visual attention over their non-gaming counterparts. In a practical sense, this means being able to quickly separate irrelevant visual data from the relevant data, something that can manifest itself positively in helping drivers to concentrate on the road without being distracted by anything occurring off-road. In this way, far from destroying our ability to focus, games have been shown to help with having fuller and more precise control over our own ability to concentrate.

Online games can also have psychological benefits in helping us to stay social. Playing with others online can promote teamwork and communication in working towards a shared goal or they can cultivate an environment of healthy competition amongst friends. More traditional games like poker or bingo are also thriving in the online space because of their built-in social elements. Bingo, in particular, encourages a sense of community and attracts friendly interaction in being a game based on complete chance which helps to remove much of the competitiveness. Paddy Power, for example, is one of the UK’s most popular online bingo sites because its emphasis on chat-room features has helped to build a healthy community of players.

Indulging in various forms of entertainment is sometimes treated as time which could have been used productively elsewhere. Some online games, however, are a huge source of stress relief and general relaxation. They can provide a welcome escape which allows us to recharge our batteries and offer far more productivity because of the break. Studies have suggested that online games can be just as effective as mindfulness apps in terms of post-work recovery. Games have been criticised for their effect on mental health but used in moderation as stress relief, they can be extremely effective in allowing the mind to switch off and re-energise.

Online games are much more than stereotypes may suggest. They can come with a host of benefits for well-being as well as mental sharpness. As the industry continues to grow, its unexpected benefits may also continue to become apparent.

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