The gaming community around the globe is now no longer millions-strong, it is now comprised of billions. Such a huge industry is sure to have potential extending beyond recreation, we explore the topic below.
Most are aware of the stereotype surrounding those immersed in the gaming industry; lazy, indolent, and uninspired individuals, hermits who lock themselves away from the outside world to get lost in something else at the disposal of all else. Needless to say, such stereotypes are erroneous and outdated; some of the most successful young entrepreneurs of today, KSI and the FaZe Clan for example, made their millions by launching from the platform of gaming. Besides, there are lazy, indolent, and uninspired people in all walks of life - not just gaming – one of the laws of statistics would guarantee that. A view more along the accepted lines is that the gaming industry is perhaps under-utilised in ways outside of leisure, holding potential in many other branches of use.
Amending The Stereotype
Before jumping into the specifics, it is first important to remove a persistent barrier to understanding the possibilities concealed by the gaming industry – the stereotypes. It is hard to imagine how one could apply the same brush to an industry so huge. As told by Wallace Witkowski from Marketwatch, the global video games industry has a value hovering around $200 billion, twice as large as that of the global film industry – a colossal figure. More, despite the global GPU shortage, the PlayStation 5 was the fastest-selling PlayStation console to date – the Coronavirus pandemic at first glance looks to be merely water off a duck’s back for much of the gaming industry, though the truth is not quite as simple. The working from home set-ups crucial for the continuation of the economy and the ostensible danger in the Coronavirus meant the worldwide community of gamers burgeoned, reaching an estimated height of 3.3 billion people depending on what you would class a ‘gamer’. That’s a fantastic 41% of the populace. In a leisure activity so ubiquitous, it would be hard to lump all in the same boat. But more to the point, with such size, does an opportunity to apply the gaming industry to ameliorate some of the pressing issues our collective society faces? We think so.
Video Gaming in Education
The first realm in which video games are not yet used but could be is in that of education. It seems, at least to each generation, that the quality of schooling and the like seems to be dropping over time. It is difficult to accurately assess such a complex problem, but if a decline in quality is present, could video games step in and help reverse any damage? Gaming has a rather unusual place in education, particularly if it is used in a subtle way. Historical games with closely true representations, like the Assassin’s Creed games, could provide an immersive, enthralling way to allow learners to explore another time, take it in, make observations and draw their own conclusions from their experience – it is as good an alternative to time-travelling as we have at our disposal. Simulator games offer the same virtues in other areas, too. F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Lando Norris have been publicly vocal about the role driver-sim video games like iRacer and Forza play in their race-day performance. If athletes at the peak of their craft avail themselves of video games for virtual simulation, why can’t the rest of us?
Therapeutic Use of Video Games
Naturally, everyone has their tailored ways to take some rest and recuperation, one common method being getting cosy on the sofa in front of a film with some snacks. That sounds dreamy for a lot of people, and no wonder – putting our feet up is good for us. Why not put your feet up… and grab a gaming controller? The Gaming Bible just this week shared a study stating that 3 in 5 gamers, 60%, find their hobby improves their mental health let alone maintains. Half of the 1300-man study told researchers that they used video gaming as a way to either escape the real world for an hour or as a stress relief, sometimes both. We know wrapping our minds around a good film can be a welcome diversion from some of the day’s events, gaming can provide a similar relief. In times where we could really do with calming down; before an operation; during an anxious period preceding an interview or exam; the hours before a date, jumping into our favourite gaming titles is a near-perfect way to take our minds off things. From a physiological point of view, gamers are frequently among those who display increased levels of grey matter within the brain, a type of neural activity associated with efficient memory and better emotional stability – two qualities that can play a vital hand in the treatment or prevention of mental health disorders. The question as to why gamers receive this benefit is slightly hazier, but it might logically have something to do with the necessary focus it takes to game as well as the incidence of puzzle-solving activities most titles possess. It’s a very cognitive process, gaming.
Positive Health Outlooks
Contrary to the rather disturbing image above of Michael, a ‘gamer addict of 2040’ with poor posture, varicose veins, vitamin deficiencies, an indent in his skull, severe eczema, blood-shot eyes and deformed fingers, regular gaming sessions are in no way an unhealthy thing to do provided other areas of your life such as, diet, exercise, and sleep, are sufficiently attended to. The artist impression it turns out was funded by a casino, a marketing strategy perhaps to increase footfall in their premises. If truth be told, when interacted with in the right way, playing video games can actually be beneficial to the health of users. The introduction of the Xbox Kinect and Motion-based accessories into the gaming market encouraged gamers to move, burn calories and, in an often-inadvertent way, exercise. One man even lost 50lbs, 3,5 stone for the imperials, by playing Soundboxing using a VR headset. In the spirit of today’s technology, players can augment their reality and practically imprint their consciousness into functionalities now coined the Metaverse – and you can’t explore the Metaverse seated. Beyond using video games as a means of movement, it has been demonstrated that frequent gamers have unintentionally enhanced their motor skills and dexterity, a useful tool in stages to have about for those rehabilitating from traumas such as stroke and brain injury. Just as you would when driving a car, shifting gears and operating pedals, a gamer must pay attention to numerous buttons and use them in conjunction with one another, forming complex sequences in their brain that soon become automatic.
Again, in face of the prevalent stereotype, an interest in gaming is also said to have a positive effect on the social abilities of those who play them. Online gaming, depending on the title in question, demands a level of teamwork and co-operation between the team; players can create friends, work with like-minded strangers, and develop their voice from the comfort of their own room, a valuable opportunity for those with social disorders. Several stories detail the close connection gamers can establish online, with one instance detailing how a group of gamers scattered around the US first met when attending the funeral of a group member. Aside from social interaction, single-player campaigns revolving around a well-written story also provide the younger audience with observable material in the same way as do movies, allowing adolescents to experience and analyse a slew of stories, characters, and ideas. It is argued that gaming reinforces dangerous behaviour in the young, but likely no more so than film, music, social media, the influence of friends and intake of popular news – impressionable young children probably shouldn’t be allowed to play Grand Theft Auto nor watch The Godfather, but these media have their place when the time is right.
A Take Home
The aftermath of a generation interested in video gaming isn’t as black and white nor catastrophic as many might make out; kid and adult alike are not disadvantaged or impaired by regular gaming – it’s appearing as though the truth might be much the opposite. The People’s Republic of China, though employing rather extreme and tyrannical (to some even abominable) way to counter, have rightfully spotted the pernicious effects too much gaming can pose. Gaming is not exempt from the universal rule that enough of a good thing can create a bad thing, but when used in conjunction and balance with other healthy habits rather than at the detriment of them, video gaming can be of benefit exceeding the ways described above. As we move further towards technological innovation, we hope the world gives credence to the gains to be had from gaming and responds in a like-manner, using instruments such as virtual realities to supplement public health as it most certainly has the capacity to do so.