Most of us grew up playing board games with our families. We would all choose the game we wanted to play for the night, like Scrabble or Monopoly, and settle in for a night of family fun. Video games have become a lot more popular over the years. While they do tend to have a multi-player format, and the ability to talk with other players, they don’t exactly have the same ‘family fun’ feel to them.
However, recent research shows that board games and video games may have a lot more in common than we originally thought. In fact, they both have cognitive benefits and the ability to help us de-stress.
The De-Stressing Benefits
Video games and board games both involve you playing with people. Some of these people may be your family, friends, or even strangers. The interactions you have, whether in-person or online allows you to engage socially with your peers. This social interaction leads to what we tend to call, “blowing off some steam” or in other words stress reduction. Each time you roll the dice for your turn or move on to a new level in your video game you engage with the players around you.
Simply talking, or getting closer to winning during a game tells your body to release chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are the hormones that help to regulate our moods and keep us happy. The social interaction associated with gameplay and the feeling of competing is one of the primary ways that our body produces endorphins. Happy people are people who are calm, not stressed out.
The Cognitive Function Benefits
While playing games is a great way to destress, there is a much more important benefit that also occurs. This is known as increased cognitive function. To find success during your lifetime, there are certain cognitive skills, called analytical thinking that you will need. Playing both board games and video games can greatly aid in the advancement of these skills. In order to win an intense video game like Call of Duty or a board game such as Risk, you will need to use problem-solving, risk assessment, and complex memory formation skills. These skills are something you hone over time, and as you age, you will use these in your everyday life. Thinking analytically may come more easily to some players, which means that other players will need to learn how to outwit them,
This involves using critical thinking skills, such as envisioning multiple futures depending on the choices you make during your game. For younger children, learning these skills early on can help them as they progress in school. Adults can also increase their cognitive function by needing to remember minute details, which can be difficult as you age. Now, the next time you see a teenager playing a video game, or a family enjoying a board game night, think about all of the benefits they are receiving. It may be time for you to join in!