The Benefits of Video Games

By: Yosef Scher  |  March 31, 2024

By Yosef Scher, Senior Science and Technology Editor

A couple of weeks ago, history was made. Willis Gibson, a thirteen-year-old Tetris fanatic, became the first person to “beat” the game. While it is technically impossible for someone to beat Tetris, as there is no end level, Willis got to the point that gamers call a “kill screen,” which is where a video game’s code glitches, causing the game to crash. Although there has been some backlash against Willis for the time spent to crash the game, scientists have recently begun to better understand the benefits of playing video games.

Before delving into some of the benefits of video games, it is crucial to understand how many people are involved in the industry. According to Josh Howarth, a writer for Exploding Topics, over the last couple of decades, “[g]aming has quickly gone from a niche hobby into one of the biggest markets in the entertainment industry.” With a current market evaluation of 282 billion dollars and more than 3.32 billion active video gamers––close to 40% of the world’s population––worldwide, it is no wonder why so many companies are investing and developing video games. In just the last eight years, the number of video game players has grown by over a billion. 

One reason video games are so popular is because of the socialization experience that many games offer. In 2017, researchers from Edge Hill University and the University of York conducted a study of over seven hundred video game players who played multiplayer online games. The researchers found a correlation between the people who played multiplayer online games and a “stronger sense of social identity or how people self-identify based on their affiliation groups.” More importantly, the study discovered that video game players had higher self-esteem, more social competence, and lower levels of loneliness. Socialization was especially important during the pandemic when face-to-face interactions were limited.

There has also been some evidence that video games may be associated with better cognitive performance in children. In 2022, a study of close to two thousand children revealed that children who reported playing video games for three hours per day or more “performed better on cognitive skills tests involving impulse control and working memory compared to children who had never played video games.” Furthermore, video games help children develop an intuition for problem-solving––something that more children seem to lack with the ease of acquiring answers from the internet and artificial intelligence platforms. By presenting players with complex puzzles, obstacles that must be overcome, and other open-ended scenarios that require outside-the-box thinking, video games have been shown to enhance problem-solving skills in people. In fact, the constant problem-solving scenarios presented to players in video games “develops cognitive skills such as critical thinking, logical reasoning, and [other] analytical abilities.” 

While there are benefits to playing video games, one has to remember that there are downsides associated with video games, including addiction, increased risk of obesity, arm pain, decreased quality of sleep, and increased aggressive thoughts and behaviors. Like anything in life, my advice for avid gamers is to play in moderation; you need to balance playing video games with your work and other essential priorities.