Updated: Apr 1, 2021
The current situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is having shocking effects. Video games and the Internet, the excessive or prolonged use of which has sparked heated debate for the past five years, are now called upon to help the mental balance of confined people, regardless of their age.
The practice of video games is linked to positive elements in at least four aspects: they facilitate self-expression, they nourish emotional well-being, they strengthen social relationships and they improve certain cognitive functions. Studies have documented the beneficial effect that certain types of games (such as the first-person shooter) can have on spatial memory, attention, and alertness.
An Anti-Stress Tool
Video games are first and foremost a great stress-relieving activity whether with a game console such as the PS VR, Kinect or a smartphone. While playing it is easy to forget a stressful situation such as the one experienced by this pandemic.
Games are therefore useful for combating anxiety in adults and preventing it from developing in children. By offering the player the possibility of modifying their environment or their game character, as is the case in massively multiplayer online role-playing video games, known as MMORPGs (for example World of Warcraft), they encourage self-expression and self-reinvention.
It has also been documented that video games contribute to the emotional well-being of families by promoting activities that strengthen ties between members of the same community (including parents, friends, and children). Often from different generations, all come together and socialize through video games.
An Educational Tool
Video games have been used for almost a decade for teaching children such as history, art, or just the alphabet or math.
Their usefulness in this area is unequivocal and their popularity is growing among teachers. So, while the world is confined to homes, many parents rely on games to educate, entertain and relax their children.
Whatever some people think, video games can be a good way to enforce confinement and barrier gestures. It's no wonder, then, that their sales have exploded recently and that the #PlayApartTogether initiative launched by the major video game makers to encourage people to have fun and practice physical distancing has received support from the WHO.
A Physical Activity Tool
In the last decade, the video game industry has broadened its customer base by adding fun activities to the entertainment of young people designed for a more mature audience. The exergames (neologism composed of the terms “exercise” and “game”) designate video games combining both cognitive stimulation and physical energy expenditure, unlike traditional games which are less active and condition the player to an inactive activity.
Consoles such as the PS VR, Kinect allow this new practice through family video games that have become popular, also along with such headsets as the amazing Oculus Quest II.
These video games contribute to the good physical and mental health of the population in general and the elderly in particular. They significantly increase energy expenditure and cardiorespiratory activity during play sessions. They thus help to maintain good physical conditions without the constraining nature often associated with physical activity practiced in training centres.
Given that, the pandemic has limited movement and contributes to the gradual deterioration of the physical condition (and even the autonomy) of particular groups of the population, the elders, for example, video games are undoubtedly one of the most important means. Be sure to keep minimal physical activity.
Thus, despite the debates on the potential negative effects of the excessive and problematic use of new technologies, the advantages and benefits must also be mentioned. Everyone can benefit from it if apprehensions are controlled and if everyone makes up their own mind, for example by playing a video game for a few hours!