More than one billion people worldwide spend at least one hour playing computer games, but is this a good or bad thing? Jane McGonigal, a successful game designer and passionate author thinks it is a good thing and she talked about it at the Nantucked Project Saturday.
Her talk gave us some insight into the world of playing games and the impacts it has on our mind and body. She also presented some interesting statistics like the fact that we spend almost 1.8 billion minutes playing the addictive facebook game Candy Crush in just one day! It may sound much and there are people who play it too much for sure, but if we play games in moderation we can actually benefit from the positive consequences which are the neurological opposite of depression.
Brain scans have shown that the most active parts of the brain during playing games are the rewards pathway system and the hippocampus. For instance, these parts of the brain are not active when we are in a bad mood, stressed and depressed. McGonigal also shared an interesting personal story. When she suffered a traumatic brain injury, she created her own game called "Jane the Concussion Slayer", to help her heal herself. That's why she has a different point of view on playing games.
A study from the East Carolina University's Psychophysiology lab measured the real effectivity of playing games for the reduction of depression and anxiety. They had 2 groups of people to different things for 30 minutes each day. One group had to read the website of the National Institute of Mental Health and the other group played the online flash games Happy Wheels, Bejeweled and Angry Birds. After that, they measured psychological and physiological responses in both groups. The results showed that the casual playing of video games decreased depression and anxiety for 57%.
Many other studies showed similar results and one thing is for sure, the casual playing of fun and relaxing games from time to time can us help relax and get in a better mood which will lead to positive effects on the overall health. Next time you feel stressed, try playing some of the famous online games like Happy Wheels, Bejeweled, Candy Crush and many others to relax a bit and get your mind of of things. This is definitely better than reaching out to alcohol, cigarettes or other unhealthy sources people use to temporary relax and deal with stress.