Gaming My Way

06 Nov

The Benefits of Gaming

This piece is based on my personal experience, and not any scientific studies. I didn’t do research for this, and I’m just talking about things I’ve noticed video games and roleplaying games have done for me. If you want scientific studies, I recommend starting with Google.

1) Make new friends. This is easiest done with tabletop games, as you get to meet people in person, but with the advent of online gaming, it’s also quite possible to make friends through video games as well. Friends of friends join the gaming group, and then they become friends of the rest of the group when all goes well. Online, as you team up with people, you find people who mesh well with you, then get to talking about things besides the game as you rake in the xp. Also, party games at a party are a great way to meet fellow gamers, as are gaming tournaments for your favorite game.

2) Improve math and reading skills. Typically, the more you do things, the better you get at them. Tabletop roleplaying games require a lot of reading to learn and memorize the rules, and a fair bit of arithmetic in order to resolve any actions through die rolls, adding and subtracting bonuses. If you’re looking to optimize your characters, you usually get into the probability of getting any given roll you need to succeed at doing any given action, and then learn to tweak your stats so you can be most effective in the areas you want to be while sacrificing as little as possible in all other areas.

On the video game side, character optimization in crpgs is very similar, except you deal with random number generators instead of dice. Better reading comes through in any game that has conversation or written plot, but no voice acting. Usually, these games are rpgs or adventure games, but other games also use a story sometimes. In this case, you read just as though it were a book, and gain the same benefits. Some games, of course, have simpler plots and less literary merit than others, but some can be quite complex, and reading is reading either way.

3) Relieve stress. For me, this one is best left to video games. Nothing quite like an fps deathmatch to blow off some steam. Explosions are fun for this. Burnout 2’s crash mode also gets a special mention here, as causing virtual pileups is also quite cathartic, and lets me get out any agressiveness I’m feeling at the time in a nice, non-destructive manner. Virtual world playgrounds are a wonderful thing.

Of course, anything fun will bring stress down, and since the only games I play for long periods of time are those I like, playing just about anything will help get me feeling relaxed and non-stressed anymore. I remember when Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out, I had a General Relativity take-home test to finish. After being stressed out and making little progress, I joined some friends in the other room to play SSBB for a bit, then went back to work completely unwound and made a lot more progress much more quickly, and finished the exam a lot earlier than I planned.

4) Try new things. This is mostly the province of tabletop roleplaying games, though video games can provide this to a lesser degree. There are some things we just won’t do in real life, either because they’re too dangerous, or morally wrong, or some other reason I haven’t thought of at the moment. In a pretend or virtual world, we’re free to try these things anyway, with just the consequences of the game world. We know we don’t want to deal with said consequences in reality, because we don’t want to harm others or ourselves, whether said harm is minor or major. But in a game, we can get an idea of what it might be like to do those things, and possibly gain a better understanding of others in the process.

So that’s it. Some of the benefits I’ve found gaming offers. Hopefully you’ll find some of these benefits in your games, along with others. If there are any other benefits you’ve found that you’d like to share, feel free to chime in in the comments.

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