By María Carracedo

There is a broadly extended opinion regarding video games as harmful for mental health. It is true that excessive gaming can certainly be harmful, (like any other activity done in excess) but using videogames in a moderated way can carry on benefits on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

In 2020, a research conducted by the University of Oxford found that playing video games may improve mental health and make people feel happier. For instance:

  • Cognitive stimulation: Playing video games forces gamers to deeply stimulate multiple different areas of the brain, this leads to the development of new dimensions of thinking.
  • Coping with stress: Playing constitutes a relief for the stress, immersing in a game is a great way of escaping for a while from the stresses of daily life.
  • Overcoming difficulties: Games make us find solutions to overcome in-game challenges, which can make gamers better equipped to deal with real-life obstacles and difficulties.
  • Feeling accomplished: In the game, there are goals and objectives to reach. Once the player achieves them, they bring him/her a lot of satisfaction, which improves the overall well-being.
  • Emotional resilience. When you fail in a game or in other situations, it can be frustrating. Video games help people learn how to cope with failure and keep trying. This is an important tool for children to learn and use as they get older.

Some mental health centers, like Mental Health Unit of the Reina Sofía Hospital in Córdoba (Spain), have started using videogames as a tool for improving psychological well-being, self-esteem, attention, concentration, fostering manual and creative skills, while helping to enhance interpersonal and social relationships of the patients.

According to the declaration that its Coordinator, Leonor Padilla, has made to the press, «the aim is to offer them a more attractive dynamic to prevent them from refusing to participate in leisure activities. We also use games that invite them to participate in sports and cognitive activities, which also helps them to improve their self-concept and, little by little, we manage to create guidelines for behavior modification, enhance socialization, always as a complement to the main intervention, which is the face-to-face one.”

Photo by DC STUDIO