Are Video Games Stopping Us From Getting Healthy?

If you ask Google whether or not video games are good for your health, you’ll get a vast mix of responses. To learn the truth behind the matter, you’ll need to look critically at the different types of video games and how they are used.

Mobile Games

Mobile games have increasingly become more and more popular as game makers learn how to take advantage of how far smartphones have come in the past decade. This, coupled with the fact that almost everyone has a smartphone, makes numerous video games available with the tap of a finger. While this can have benefits, such as when you are sick and need to stay in bed, these games can help pass the time. And, seeing as Americans get roughly a billion colds every year, mobile games are often put to good use.

However, problems can arise when easy-to-access games become addicting. While the popular battle royal game Fortnite was banned from both the Google Play and Apple App stores — with developer Epic games suing in response — there are numerous other games, along with other handheld devices that make playing games easier and more accessible than ever. Although this is convenient, it has its downsides. Why go outside and exercise, when you could sit down and finish another campaign? It also doesn’t help that many games are easy to become invested in, making them almost like an addiction.

Because of this, it is important to draw lines and limit video gameplay to only a couple of hours a day at most. In fact, video games like this could also be limited to specific times, such as an hour before bed or while in the bathroom. In fact, Houzz reports that two in five homeowners admit that they use their bathroom time to relax. You may consider playing a mobile game during this time as a way to escape for a bit, but it can also limit the time you have to play, meaning you can still get other things done.

Console and PC Games

While mobile games tend to be quick and repetitive, game consoles and PCs enable gamers to play games with longer stories, some of which people invest thousands of hours in. Although games like this can be enriching as they involve problem-solving and the ability to experience rich storytelling, like mobile games, they can easily become addicting, and before you know it, hours have passed.

With longer campaign-based games like this, limiting playtime is key, as it can lead to a decrease in physical activity due to how invested players can get in these digital worlds. Although video games themselves are not damaging, like anything, moderation is key and it’s important to be able to be active and do other necessary activities such as making healthy meals.

Active Videos Games

With the above being said, there are video games that seek to bridge the gap between gaming and fitness. Games like Beat Saber, Just Dance, Zumba Burn It Up, Ring Fit Adventure, and BoxVR, combine active movement with the fun of playing a video game. Active video games like this encourage players to get invested and reward active gameplay. The more into the game you get, the more exercise you can accomplish. While games like this shouldn’t take the place of a workout routine, and they can be addicting in their own right, they can offer a fun alternative to stationary gameplay.

The question still lingers, do video games actually hinder our ability to get healthy? Truthfully, the answer depends on the individual. Yes, they can impact active lifestyles and take up a lot of time, which can prevent things such as healthy meal planning. However, if played in moderation, giving yourself time for other activities, can be a fun way to unwind, escape, and experience a whole new world.