10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Video Games

The psychology of video games actually dates back to the 50’s. Did you know that the first ever video game was released in 1958? Physicist William Higinbotham created Tennis for Two quite simply as a form of entertainment. He likely had no idea the impact he was making on the tech and entertainment industry. His innovative concept went on to inspire the first popular video Pong, which was released in 1972. Since then, video games have become one of the most popular form of entertainment. Billions of people, of all ages and backgrounds, play video games every day. 

While it’s clear that people find video games enjoyable, their impact on human psychology has been quite controversial. From violent games promoting aggression, to addictive personalities getting hooked on gaming, to educational games increasing the IQ in children, there are unlimited outlooks on video games and their affect on our inner psychology. If you’re interested in learning about the positive, negative, and everything in between, keep reading. Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of video games. 

People love the way video games make them feel.

psychology of video games

It’s no secret that people love video games. Kids, teenagers, adults. . . Gaming has a wide audience. But what is the root of this? How do they make gamers feel? 

Sekg published an article back in 2017 about understanding gamer psychology. The author referenced a study based on the Richard Ryan and Edward Deci Self Determination Theory. The theory claims that “human behavior is driven by the need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. If those needs are met, we enjoy activities more, even in gaming. Competence is fulfilled in games through flow, which is a completely focused mental state, and is used to explain the enjoyment of games. Flow is met in games when a game challenges the player enough so that it is still interesting and makes gamer want to continue to play, but not too hard where it is not fun anymore or too easy where it becomes boring. Autonomy is met because we have control in games and we voluntarily play games. Lastly, relatedness is fulfilled because we are able to interact and compete with others in a way and world that’s different from real life.”

People may use video games to escape their own reality.

psychology of video games

The real world can be a lot sometimes. Life can throw a lot at us. It can be:

  • school
  • work
  • being a parent or caretaker
  • dealing with loss
  • health concerns,
  • any other responsibility or trying time

The psychology of video games understands that it’s nice to have an escape. For billions of people around the world, video games are an excellent way to escape reality. They allow you to concentrate on something outside of your own bubble and that can be a beautiful thing. 

Video games can promote mental disorders.

psychology of video games

As mentioned above, video games and their impact on mental health can be a controversial topic. When video games are played in excess amounts, they can promote mental disorders. The same can be said for games that are violent or gruesome. Some examples of common mental disorders linked to video games include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme agression

Video games can have positive effects on human behavior.

psychology of video games

When played in moderation, video games can have positive effects on children, teens, and adults. These benefits promote many cognitive, behavioral, and educational skills. Some examples of positive effects on human behavior may include… 

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  • Social skills
  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • New languages
  • Team work
  • Problem solving skills
  • Hand eye coordination
  • Multi-tasking abilities
  • Mood boosting 

Video games can have negative effects on human behavior.

Unfortunately, gaming has many negative associations – especially for the younger generation. Just as playing video games in excess can promote mental disorders, doing so can also have negative effects on human behavior. Some examples of these negative effects on human behavior may include…

  • Social isolation
  • Poor grades in school
  • Work ethic suffering
  • Irritability 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Aggression

Video games can be accessible for everyone.

When you picture the typical game, who do you see? Most people may envision a teenage boy who sits by his computer day in and day out and forgets to change his clothes. They may also see an adult who lost their job and now spends all day fighting fake wars on a TV screen. Despite what society may have you believing, video games can be for everyone. There are endless options to choose from and it is easy than you may think to fall in loving with gaming – regardless of your:

  • age group
  • cultural background
  • possible disability. 

Video games can actually increase intelligence. 

Video games can make you smarter? Did you read that right? Yup, it’s true! Contrary to popular belief, video games, when played in moderation, can also be an incredible form of education. 

Game Quitters, an online resource for gamers, published a blog on whether or not video games can actually make us smarter. The interesting blog shares that “Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam studied the link between the screen habits of 5,000 US children and how their intelligence developed over a period of two years. The results showed that those children who spent an above-average amount of time playing video games increased their intelligence by approximately 2.5 IQ points more than the average. Whereas, watching TV and videos, and engaging with social media had no significant effect on their cognitive abilities.”

People with anxiety can benefit from certain video games.

When played in excessive amounts, video games are known to promote feelings of anxiety. However, when the right games are played in moderation, they can actually have the complete opposite effect. There are many video games available nowadays that are calming, interactive, and have beautiful and serene imagery. These games are known to reduce the symptoms of

  • Stress
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 

Video games can be addictive.

Did you know that video games affect our brains in the same way that addictive drugs do? Playing games triggers the release of dopamine in our brain. This is the chemical that makes us want to continue a certain behavior. Because of this, video games are known for being an extremely addictive activity among all age groups. 

Many people build communities through gaming.

It may be hard to believe, but online gaming is actually a great way to make friends and an even build a community. Whether players have social anxiety or are unable to leave your house due to emotional or physical reasons, playing video games can allow them to still feel a sense of belonging and friendship. Additionally, this can help:

  • Build social skills
  • Boost confidence 
  • Increase overall mood
  • Improve mental health

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