How Video Games Can Supercharge Your Game
Have you ever poured hours into a video game and been told it was a waste of time? Nowadays, video games are played by almost anyone and everyone. They’re commonly seen as mindless and inactive hobbies, yet no one ever talks about the upsides. Recent studies have found promising information about the benefits of video games, and the skills they develop overlap with those important to athletes. Here’s what video games can do for your mind:
Replicate the Game… Really
We all know about sport simulator games like the NBA2K, FIFA, and Madden franchises. They’re virtual versions of the pro leagues, letting players play a digital sports game using virtual pro teams. It turns out that these video game imitations can help improve your game in real life. A study was conducted concerning the effects of having cancer patients play a cancer-themed game. The game had patients kill cancer cells and taught information about the condition. It was found that adherence to patient protocol and general knowledge of cancer improved when the patients played these games. The same effect can be found in these sports simulators—just listen to Aaron Fox, father of NBA starter and former Kentucky Wildcats star De’Aaron Fox:
“A lot of people don't believe me, but I tell everyone that that PlayStation helped him get where he is today. He'd play that PlayStation, and he could master it in no time. He learned pick-and-rolls. He learned how to roll off a ball screen. I tell kids if they want to learn something about basketball, go put on NBA 2K.”
The secret is treating it like the real game. Practice communicating and being a team player. Learn what plays work and what plays people like to run. It can help you sense them on the field or the court and make you a smarter player.
Improve Attention Allocation
Attention is a person’s capacity to take in and focus on information. What video games can do is improve the efficiency of our attention allocation; studies determined that gamers were able to filter out unnecessary clutter faster and more effectively. This effect was attributed to fast-paced 3D games with a lot of visual detail: shooter games were the most beneficial. The need to stay aware and make split-second decisions under pressure helps sharpen the focus of gamers enabling them to make a winning play in the final minutes of a close match.
Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Problem-solving is what it sounds like; it’s a person’s ability to solve problems. Improvements in problem-solving were attributed to strategic games like role-playing games and real-time strategy games, although problem-solving is present across all genres. These games encourage constant trial and error, with gamers constantly trying new things and learning from the results.
Problem-solving helps athletes come up with long-term game plans and make adjustments against their opponents. It also helps in those split-second decisions, like when you need to decide between shooting or passing in basketball. Problem-solving also applies when practicing: ask yourself “what are my weaknesses and how can I work on them?” Athletes with a good mentality are naturally able to break down long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals: a.k.a they come up with a strategy to achieve what they want.
Creativity is what allows people to come up with unique solutions to problems and “think outside the box.” In a study with 500 twelve-year-old students, it was found that playing any type of video game was associated with higher levels of creativity. Creativity shines in team sports, where the complexity of coordinated team play can allow for the execution of many different ideas. Creativity also shows itself in a person’s unique playstyle: take for instance the dribbling wizardry of Kyrie Irving or the inventive dimes from Nikola Jokic. Being unpredictable can keep your opponents on your toes, both as an individual and as a team. This also ties in with problem-solving, as creativity opens up different ways of tackling problems. In basketball, it’s what lets players see a seemingly impossible pass under the basket or manipulate defenses with fakes in order to create open shots.
In short, video games can help with attention allocation, problem solving, creativity, and persistence. From personal experience, I’ve become able to process my surroundings much better and make plays on the fly. The fun in improving carries over to other hobbies too, including sports for you athletes.
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