This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Playing video games is a popular pastime for people of all ages, especially for younger generations who have grown up experiencing the rapid evolution of video games.
They often receive a bad rep from people saying that they rot our youth’s brains and lead them to become antisocial or violent. While different types of video games can have varying effects on one’s behavior, it is not fair to group all games together as detrimental to society.
Especially in a time that has been as isolating as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to find ways to combat feelings of loneliness to protect our mental well-being. In fact, modern video games in particular give us an opportunity to connect with others in a new, innovative way that wouldn’t have been conceivable just a few decades ago.
Just as with other modern technological advances such as texting and social media, some video games allow the player to interact with other players from around the world. This can include speaking through typing or voice chat in order to complete in-game missions together or play against one another.
Many video games with online play are unique to other forms of communication because it is often goal-oriented, meaning that players must work as a team and go through a series of steps to achieve a certain outcome. When you are stuck inside your house running out of things to do, having a goal to reach in mind can give you a sense of purpose and having other people constantly available to help can also give you experience with problem-solving skills and working in a team.
Existing research on video game usage supports the idea that playing video games is linked to a reduction in stress and depression. When combined with the opportunity for global interactive play, online video games can help decrease feelings of loneliness in addition to stress and depression (Marston & Kowert, 2020).
Therefore, whether you prefer a single player experience where you can take things at your own pace or enjoy meeting new friends to play with without leaving your own computer or console, there are proven benefits to playing video games. In a time where people have felt more disconnected than ever before, don’t discount the vast digital world that video games open, allowing us to interact with others through a very unique kind of lens.
Marston, H. R., & Kowert, R. (2020). What role can videogames play in the COVID-19 pandemic?. Emerald Open Research, 2, 34. https://doi.org/10.35241/emeraldopenres.13727.2
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Lauren Vitale, senior psychological science major, French minor, honors concentration from Middlesex County, NJ
Jack Maisonneuve, senior communication studies major