The Power Of Play

The Power of Play: Gaming's Positive Impact on Mental Health

Gaming has undoubtedly become a global powerhouse in entertainment for people of all ages, but did you know it could also have a positive impact on your mental health? As gaming continues to evolve, it's important to recognise its potential benefits beyond just a popular pastime.
It may be a phrase you've heard countless times before, from studies to think-pieces on Twitter, but how does gaming have a positive impact on your mental health? When thinking about the advantages of playing games, it's easy to focus on the enjoyment and satisfaction of completing a story or winning online; however, many other perks exist beyond these immediate rewards. In a world seemingly filled with a new crisis every day, any form of gaming, from mobile to PC, can provide a welcome distraction from daily worries, reducing stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression. For many people, gaming is an escape from the world, similar to engaging in a sport, cooking or other hobbies. It's a chance to unwind with a relaxed session of Minecraft, join up with your friends for a game of Warzone or finally beat that boss in Elden Ring. Gaming can even improve the brain's cognitive function, including memory, attention and problem-solving, with some studies showing increased brain activity and higher mental performance.

Social Connections

A somewhat underrated aspect of gaming is the social connection and sense of community it can provide. It may seem like an isolated experience from the outside looking in, someone sitting indoors, playing games, but it can be more connected than anything you're likely to find in the world. Thanks to online multiplayer and popular apps like Discord, players can now easily connect with others from all over the globe. This allows them to form new friendships that they may not have been able to cultivate through traditional social settings like parties or sports, regardless of their circumstances.

For example, a 2022 study by Texas A&M University found that after playing online and interacting with others for a set period, the people who lacked real-life support were more likely to reach out to others in online gaming situations. Over time, these virtual relationships can foster a sense of security and confidence, enabling individuals to share personal details they might not disclose to those in their real-life circle. Tyler Prochnow, a social network analyst expert at Texas A&M, said: "There was this large build-up of worry or concern over online gaming or excessive gaming and mental health, but we wanted to continue that discussion about how online gaming in these gaming communities can actually be a benefit for individuals and to improve mental health".

From "Couch Potatoes" to Career Paths

Of course, there will always be an opposing argument to the supposed 'benefits' of gaming. The early 2010's articles peddled by large news corporations about the dangers of gaming to the next generation, "promoting violence", "anti-social behaviour", and a "generation of couch potatoes" could be seen slung across the headlines of BBC News or CNN. Those opinions were certainly not helped by the viral 'rage' and 'troll' compilations popularised on YouTube around the same time. Despite all this, numerous studies have been released in the years since then, arguing that gaming is beneficial to your mental health, not harming it. A 2021 study by Microsoft found that 84% of respondents agreed gaming has positively impacted their mental health over the past year, while 71% said gaming helped them feel less isolated.
The world of gaming has come a long way since its inception and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As technology advances, games become more complex and immersive, requiring a team of designers and developers to bring them to life. These careers involve everything from coding and programming to graphic design and testing. Whatever you're interested in, there's a career path waiting for you in the gaming industry, and Square One is here to help you find that dream role. Get in touch with our specialist consultants today: +44 020 7208 2828
And remember, consider picking up a controller and getting lost in a game for a while. Your brain (and your mood) might just thank you for it.
Ben Mulchinock
Ben is our Digital Marketing Executive, bringing all his social media know-how and creative skills to the table daily. While being one of the youngest at Square One, it doesn't stop him from taking the initiative and leading up his own projects. When he's not at Square One, Ben likes to suffer through supporting Spurs and playing football.