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No matter if you prefer sports, computer or board games.

All of them make us stronger, braver and happier; they teach us how to achieve our goals and to endure defeats with courage; they have a positive effect on our mental and physical health. So it’s not just fun and certainly not a waste of time.

In the process of playing, you increase your self-efficacy

A man with high self-efficacy is sure that he can change his life for the better. He has no doubt that he has the skills and abilities needed to solve problems or achieve goals.

At a high level of self-efficacy, you are more likely to take actions that will help you succeed, even if it is difficult or painful. You are able to overcome difficulties without avoiding them.

Why do games help you develop self-efficacy? The fact is that their very nature is a challenge.

As a rule, in any game we lose at first. But, by continuing to play, we improve our skills and strategies. In the end, we start to cope better. Then the level of difficulty increases. The tasks, which are becoming more and more difficult, require a desire to try and try again, even when we fail.

This inspires hope that if we train and learn, if we do our best, we can achieve more complex goals.

It turns out that during the game we are going through a classic way to improve our self-efficacy: to set a goal, to make efforts, to get feedback, to improve a specific skill, to continue to try, to succeed.

What’s good: the feeling of self-efficacy will not disappear once it appears. This is a steady shift in the way of thinking.

Research shows that people who play a lot are indeed more likely to set difficult tasks, give up less often and show much more perseverance to achieve their life goals than others.

The games make us smarter

It’s not just chess or development kits that train the mind. No less useful video games, especially racing and action games. Gamers have the following cognitive changes.

  • Visual attention and spatial thinking skills are improving, allowing achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • The decision-making process in conditions of severe stress and time constraints is accelerating and becoming more accurate.
  • The ability to simultaneously track multiple flows of information is being improved.
  • Processing of data in the neural network is accelerated – the brain uses less resources when performing complex tasks.

Strategy games also improve a range of skills that lead to success in learning and achievement in life. The benefits of these games include:

  • Effective collection of information;
  • Quick and accurate evaluation of options;
  • A strong ability to formulate and follow strategic plans;
  • Ability to be flexible in developing alternative strategies or goals.

Finally, many games contribute to the development of creativity. When you play, the brain becomes more receptive to non-standard solutions and unusual ideas.

Playing is a way to increase emotional stability

Emotional stability is the ability to receive positive emotions despite stress, boredom, anger or pain. It is a very important quality. People who possess it are more ambitious, more successful and happier, they are more likely to offer creative solutions to problems and less likely to give up in difficult situations.

The way to emotional stability is not to avoid negative emotions. This is impossible. It is enough that the positive emotions you experience during the day outweigh the negative ones.

And what gives us more positive emotions than a game? It’s a great way to get a little distracted from the problems and relieve the tension. Playing, we feel curiosity – one of the most pleasant feelings. Every little victory, every bonus we earn, or every successful move causes the brain to release a “joy hormone” of dopamine.

Besides, playing the game, we’re in a state of flux. This is a superpositive psychic state in which a person is fully focused on a certain cause; he or she fills up with energy, loses track of time, and is unaware of competing thoughts or emotions.

It is because of the state of the flow that the gameplay helps us to block negative feelings such as pain and anxiety. At the same time, when you play, your mental and physical health is being actively restored.

Games bring us closer to other people

One of the most serious difficulties for many people in maintaining relationships with relatives and acquaintances is the lack of points of contact. But sociologists have found that even doing things like playing Facebook has greatly increased the feeling that there is something in common.

What can we say about live communication? Making it easier for you to spend an evening at a fun board game is one of the best ways to get close to family members or enjoy spending time with friends.

Deep concentration on one common cause, discussion of tactics and rules, joint fun, friendly laughter, attempts to understand the course of thinking of rivals and anticipate their next steps – all this awakens empathy and promotes closer ties with partners in the game.

Why are you playing?

It’s not a secret that some people have difficulties in learning and communication, physical and mental condition due to excessive passion for the game. Why is this happening? Why do some games work and others face difficulties?

The reason – not in the games and not in the amount of time you devote to them. Everything depends entirely on why you play. To escape from reality or to make your real life better?

If you’re trying to escape reality, it’s gonna be hard for you to transfer your gaming skills to real life. The reason is that the more serious your problems become, the more you play and the less time and effort you put into making a difference.

But if you play consciously with a goal in mind – for example, to spend time with friends and family, learn something new, or cheer up after a hard day – then the game can be a source of real strength for you.

Paul T. Linder