For years, video gamers have gotten a bad rap. They’re viewed as pasty hermits hiding in their parents’ basements, living off of cheese puffs and Mountain Dew. However, the growing popularity of online cooperative games is finally overturning this stereotype.
Ten years ago, many of my friends played World of Warcraft, the ultimate stereotypical “gamer nerd” game. Though these friends would wear the title “nerd” with honor, they didn’t fit the loner typecast that the media portrays. For them, games were just another outlet for their already rich social lives. Research has shown us that loneliness and social isolation can be detrimental to health by increasing stress hormones and inflammation (1). My friends rightfully felt that they were caring for themselves by playing games.
The social benefit of games shouldn’t come as a surprise. Kids started gathering to play Nintendo and Atari decades ago. I spent much of my childhood getting laughed at by a cartoon dog because I was a poor shot in Duck Hunt. Advances in internet technology now allow people to play together without sharing the same space, and this has led to a proliferation of online gaming. Some say the explosion began with Call of Duty 2 in 2005, which has sold over 5,800,000 copies to date (2), and it continues with Fortnite: Battle Royal, which gained 10 million players in its first two weeks (3). With these ever-increasing numbers, we can assume that players are getting something positive from their experiences.
As online gaming expands, more and more people are scrutinizing its possible health effects. Critics often ignore games’ social benefits and fear that by exposing children to violent games, they may become violent themselves (4). However, this theory has been debunked, and games are no more harmful than TV or movies (4). Plus, some evidence suggests that games may actually be beneficial to health. According to an article by the American Psychological Association, video games likely increase learning, health, and social skills (2).
So, if you’re wanting to pick up a copy of the next hot game, go for it. It may be good for your health.
- Kluger, Jeffrey. 5 Ways Loneliness Can Hurt Your Health. Time.com. [Online] November 13, 2017. http://time.com/5009202/loneliness-effects/.
- Murphy, Richard. How significantly has Call of Duty changed gaming? Games Radar. [Online] November 1, 2013. https://www.gamesradar.com/how-significantly-has-call-duty-changed-gaming/.
- Lumb, David. ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ claims 10 million players. Engadget. [Online] October 11, 2017. https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/11/fortnite-battle-royale-claims-10-million-players/.
- Gentile, Douglas (interviewee) and Shapiro, Ari (host). What Research Says About Video Games And Violence In Children. All Things Considered Radio Program. [Online] National Public Radio, March 3, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/03/08/592046294/what-research-says-about-video-games-and-violence-in-children.
- Bowen, Lisa. Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds. Monitor on Psychology. February 2014, Vol. 45, 2.
- Gerencer, Tom. How Much Money Has Every Call of Duty Game Made? Money Nation. [Online] December 23, 2015. http://moneynation.com/how-much-money-has-every-call-of-duty-game-made/.