To de-stress, most of us switch to video games. It’s incredibly tempting to pick up the controller or turn on your screen after a long, hard day’s work and play a few rounds of your favourite game.

1- How Do Video Games Reduce Stress?

To comprehend how video games affect our stress levels, we must first comprehend how video games affect our minds.

Consider the last time you had a good time doing something. It might be anything as simple as watching a good TV show, having a good conversation, or playing a video game. How did you feel right now? Were your thoughts wandering away from what you were doing?

Dopamine Circuitry

Gaming causes relaxation in our minds, which is one of the reasons we love playing video games. When we enjoy a video game, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s pleasure center. When dopamine is released, we feel happy and euphoric. Playing provides us with fun and relaxation, which helps us cope with the pressures of the day.

Triumph Circuit

However, dopamine pleasure isn’t the only reason video games can help you relax. The Triumph circuit, which rewards commitment, is a psychological pattern in our brain. When we conquer obstacles, our brain is wired to make us feel healthy. This circuit has been hacked by video gamers. They give us a problem to solve as well as the tools to do so. When we excel, we experience feelings of fulfillment and competence, which are both optimistic emotions that help us cope with stress.

Flow State

The triumph circuit isn’t the only factor that contributes to the level of immersion and interaction we experience while playing video games. The triumph circuit is based on results; it makes us feel good when we complete a task. However, another level of engagement and attention known as a flow state occurs when you become so absorbed in playing the game that everything else fades away.

Instant Gratification

Instant gratification is a feature of video games, which means we just have to put in a small amount of effort to earn a reward or complete a task. This is significant because the world outside of video games always operates under the opposite principle: delayed gratification.

Video Games Encourage Creativity

The left and right hemispheres of our brain are known as the left and right brains, respectively. In the following instances, they vary from one another:

The left hemisphere of the brain is analytical, rational, numerical, fact-oriented, organized, and verbal.

The right-brain, on the other hand, is imaginative, intuitive, and free-thinking, and it thinks visually rather than verbally.

The majority of the work we do is focused on the left side of the brain. Our job may entail number crunching, sales, document reading, data manipulation, and so on. The majority of our lives are highly organized, with a strong emphasis on productivity.

As a consequence, the right side of our brain is ignored. We seldom take the time (or have the time) to participate in artistic activities like painting, sculpture, and other forms of expression. Observing how the mind responds to creative tasks, such as drawing, is an excellent way to identify an overactive left brain. For example, if you sit down to draw something and your mind begins to think about the “right” way to draw it, you might have an overactive left brain. The left brain is more free-flowing than that; exercising the right brain entails creating art without thinking about its accuracy.”

Social Connection from Video Games

Video games have more than just difficulty, entertainment, and innovation to offer. Games are a fantastic way to make meaningful social links and strengthen bonds. Video games did not invent the idea of playing with your friends. Children have gathered to play games with one another throughout human history.

The beauty of video games is that you don’t need to be physically present with another person to enjoy them. The internet allows you to communicate with others who share your interests. To combat tension, social events are a no-brainer. When it isn’t feasible (for example, due to a global pandemic), video games can be a fantastic way to develop and sustain relationships.

2- How Can Violent Video Games Reduce Stress?

Most people associate high-adrenaline, fast-paced games with tension. That seems to be a reasonable inference — after all, how can anything so fast-paced and aggressive be relaxing?

The games that an individual plays are determined by their personality. Fast-paced sports are preferred by some people because they are the only way to keep their brain active. They achieve flow by stimulating their brain to the point that no other thoughts emerge, and they can relax while playing the game.

Even though research indicates that adrenaline spikes during some violent video games, it quickly returns to normal after the player finishes playing. Furthermore, when compared to the puzzle game Tetris, players record higher positive emotion ratings after playing a violent video game like Mortal Kombat.

3- What Does the Research Say About Gaming to Reduce Stress?

Porter and Goolkasian compared the stress responses of two groups, one who played the fighting game Mortal Kombat and the other who played the puzzle game Tetris, in a study published in 2019. The Mortal Kombat party had a cardiovascular stress response, while Tetris players did not.

Video games were also found to alleviate negative emotions including anger in stressed people, according to the report. The participants said that they played video games to relieve tension.

4- Do Video Games Just Suppress Problems?

Video games immerse us in an unfamiliar world, provide us with a goal, and provide us with the resources or information to achieve that goal. As a result, gamers build a problem-solving brain in an atmosphere that provides them with a specific target.

Emotional repression, on the other hand, is a major issue among gamers. Since they choose to relieve stress by turning on a game and immersing themselves in it, the negative feelings that cause them stress have nowhere to go. As a consequence, they are kept in check. That isn’t to say they don’t have influence over our actions; it just means we aren’t aware of it.

5- How Much Gaming Is Beneficial for Stress Reduction?

There’s a thin line between gaming as a way to unwind after a long day and gaming as a means of escapism. We need to be aware of how much time we spend gaming each day and why we play. Is it that you want to unwind by watching Stardew Valley for an hour? Or do you want to play 4 hours of League of Legends to avoid doing your homework?

final thoughts

Every gamer is unique. Perhaps you prefer action games like Call of Duty or Fortnite, or perhaps you prefer a more relaxing game like Stardew Valley. After a long day, you might enjoy playing a few matches of your favorite MOBAs like Dota 2 or League of Legends to unwind. The central idea is that you should appreciate what you’re doing and understand why you’re doing it.