Hey you guys! Back for another “gaming is good for you” post. I like these. Previously I made a post about how gamers have potential to make good drone pilots. Not long after that I also wrote a blog about a new study saying gaming helps train the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Pretty cool! Today I’m coming at you with another article in the same vein. One about how gaming can be great for your mental health!
IMAGE FROM THE HEALTHY LIVING SITE
First, let me talk about stress. Stress is no fun and not right for you. Massive amounts of stress can cause severe mental disorders. Unfortunately, stress is part of life, whether we like it or not, and the best defense against it is learning to cope when it hits. Fun things like controlled breathing and yoga. One set of folks who can have a high-stress job are people active in the military.
Late last year a study was published all about video games as stress relief for active military and veterans. What this study showed is that lots of military people used video games as a way to cope with stress. The specific coping mechanisms involved are escapism, managing self-diagnosed physical and/or psychological ailments, seeking social support, and connecting with civilian life.
What’s very interesting is that the ones in the study that used video games served longer in the military. Draw what conclusions you like from that, but one possibility is that video games improved quality of life in a high-stress job.
‘Fun factoid’ is the game of choice for these military people in the study was fantasy! Military-themed games was a close second though.
Now, another great way that video games help your mind involves Tetris. Tetris can prevent your brains’ ability to store new traumatic memories. Which means those memories are less likely to haunt you quite as much. That is not all that Tetris does though. It can diminish the mental pull towards cravings and addictions.
IMAGE FROM WINDOWS CENTRAL
Let’s get back to the traumatic memories though. There is a theory that for several hours after a traumatic experience, the experience committing to memory can be messed with. That you could perhaps hi-jink the brain to put its efforts into other things that will disturb the memory process. Now, this is similar to what I mentioned above with gaming being a stress reliever. However what I’m talking about now is thwarting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
To back up these claims is a study titled “Preventing intrusive memories after trauma via a brief intervention involving Tetris computer game play in the emergency department…”. In this study, they decided to use Tetris because it has high spatial intelligence demands. The idea is that this type of game would disrupt sensory elements of the traumatic memory. In an emergency department, they were able to involve people who had been in a car crash within the last six hours. The results were fewer intrusive memories for those who played Tetris for twenty minutes versus those who didn’t.
IMAGE FROM THE VERGE
There was another study too. In this one, they showed traumatic movies to test subjects. How nice of them! Well, after showing the video some played Tetris, some didn’t. The same results were noted in this study. There was less recall of the trauma they witnessed if they played Tetris for just a brief time after the video. That is pretty wild!
However, Tetris probably isn’t the only thing that would produce the same effect. Candy Crush is another high visuospatial demand. Though you don’t even need to play a game. Trying to draw something from sight would be a similar type of activity as well.
Now, back to the addiction part. Apparently playing Tetris can also curb cravings and addictions. Everything from drugs to that extra slice of chocolate cake that’s been eyeing you from the counter. In the study that involved monitoring cravings, they collected college students as volunteers. Throughout a week they carried around iPods on which they would fill out a survey seven times a day on their cravings. Half got to follow up the survey with a measly three minutes of Tetris. Three minutes! What results did they see? A 13.9% craving reduction in the Tetris players.
IMAGE FROM PINCH OF YUM
What does this all mean? That Tetris could very well be a form of therapy for everyday stress, traumatic experience, and addictions or cravings. It all comes back down to the visual and spatial parts of the brain being used in the game, instead of elsewhere (where we don’t want it). At least, that’s the theory.
Now, there is another thing these studies have in common, and that is that they have small sample groups. Which means we can’t trust the results too much, unfortunately. It appears that many researchers are dedicated to this idea and continuing to research further. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth a shot right away! It could help with a diet, could help for quitting cigarettes or going sober. It would also be a great thing to have if any of us have the misfortune to experience something traumatic. I know I’m going to go download Tetris to my phone for a rainy day!
IMAGE FROM WOMEN’S DAY
Also, don’t forget that gaming, in general, can help to cope with everyday stress. Consider it your medicine and take it daily–haha.