The positive cognitive benefits of video games have been well documented over time in various research studies. We’ve come a long way from believing that video games are destructive, with numerous moral panics over the games related to games like Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto – but years of research have proven that video games are not only relaxing (including violent games), but have numerous positive effects on our brains as well.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the most pertinent positive effects that gaming has on our brain, with a focus on online multiplayer games.
Quick decision-making abilities
Perhaps as an extension of enhanced teamwork and cooperation, online multiplayer gaming also offers the benefit of enhanced decision-making abilities, even under stressful situations. This is a particularly great benefit for team leaders who need to make quick judgment calls, as people expect a team leader to make the best decisions necessary for the team’s success. In fact, a common job interview question directly relates to this, typically put forth like “Describe a situation you had to make a decision under pressure?”.
The ability to think quickly on your feet and make decisions with the company’s wellness in mindsets top-notch professions apart from the rest, although depending on the company, you probably don’t want to answer that interview question with a story about leading your squad to victory in a capture-the-flag match in Call of Duty. Although who knows, it might be worth a shot.
Either way, this doesn’t only benefit professional team leaders, as everyone can benefit from quicker decision-making. It can be a situation as simple as judging whether you have enough time to drive through a yellow traffic light before it turns red, for example, or when to fold or raise in a poker game, like in Casumo casino.
Enhanced teamwork and cooperation with others
In many online games, teamwork is a key part of a strategy to victory, which means communicating effectively with people you’ve never met before. Even in the heat of the moment during intense gameplay, such as a 4-player team being overrun by zombies in Left 4 Dead, players need to stay calm, focused, and communicate throughout the game in order to succeed.
This is a skill set that can transfer to ‘real-life’, offering enormous benefits. Being a team player is never a bad thing, and somebody who can plan and communicate effectively with others is always highly valued in professional settings. In fact, researchers say that playing video games with coworkers can actually increase teamwork and performance in the workplace. This study from the Brigham Young University found a 20% increase in work productivity after newly-formed work teams played video games for just 45 minutes.
One researched quipped that companies spend thousands of dollars on team-building activities when all they really need is an Xbox.
Enhances your social skills
Massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft are actually social microcosms, where social interaction is practically a requirement. It is very difficult to advance as a lone-wolf in these types of games, and many players join factions such as guilds, where all the guild members typically communicate with each other over microphones.
This social interaction, even from behind a computer screen, can have positive benefits beyond the game. For example, a person who might normally suffer from social anxiety can learn how to communicate more confidently, and carry conversations with strangers, as many guild chat rooms will have conversations besides just the game itself.
We’re not saying that playing MMORPGs will suddenly make you the life of a real-life party, but research has proven that social interaction between guild members in games like World of Warcraft actually promotes positive self-esteem and social support. The linked research data was gathered from 244 World of Warcraft gamers, and focused on areas such as character identity, guild identity, and self-esteem, finding that character identity had a clear effect on personal self-esteem, and guild identity had a positive impact on flow, social loyalty, and self-esteem.
In fact, many MMORPG gamers form friendships with guild members beyond the game and may play other games together besides the one they originally met on, and even meet in real life.