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How do video games benefit society?

Video games have received more than their fair share of criticism for almost as long as they've been played by adolescents and adults alike

Video games have received more than their fair share of criticism for almost as long as they've been played by adolescents and adults alike – indeed, almost as far back as 1958, when the world's first video game came to be. And while video games' opponents claim they encourage violence, waste time and contribute to obesity, this negatively must be countered by the many positive impacts video games have on modern society. Here are just a couple:

Video games shine a spotlight on important issues

With their popularity continuing to rise and audiences diversifying, video games are increasingly being seen as a vehicle for communicating ideas and generation discussion around social issues. Take Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice as an example, says this blog by Service Care Solutions. The Ninja Theory game has mental health at the forefront of its premise, following main character Senua as she navigates an underworld made up of the psychotic manifestations of her mind. The game has been praised for drawing attention to psychosis, particularly a it was created in consultation with psychologists, neuroscientists, those who suffer from psychosis and a variety of other experts.

Elsewhere, games have been used to provide an insight into other societies, such as Darfur is Dying, which raises awareness of the Sudan genocide. The UN's game Food Force educates first-world children about world hunger, with more than four million players globally within a year of its launch. Such issue advocacy continues in games such as Missing, produced by Web Wise Kids to teacher players about the dangers of online predators.

Video games improve dexterity and motor skills

While video games often have the reputation of being a hobby for the idle, they often require high levels of creativity and responsiveness from their players. What's more, studies show that games can help to improve users' motor skills and dexterity. Action video games, in particular, can increase the ability to learn hand-eye coordination, and when used in the rehabilitation of stroke patients, they can be effective in improving cognitive function. However, there are limits to how long the average person should spend engaging with video games every day, and studies have shown some parts of the brain can be negatively affected by the overuse of video games.

While it's true that video games can have negative impacts on some parts of society, their positive benefits mustn't be overlooked. When enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle, they can provide entertainment, improvements in dexterity and potentially even education.

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