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Video Games Come to Life

Video games didn't mean much to me before my stroke. Oh, one would come around every now and then like Ice Age or Norse by Norse West. Who doesn't like a big, burly men with scorpions flinging flames of their tails to spice up the game with danger? But, for the most part, I viewed games as a waste of time.

Do Games Even Make Sense?

My thoughts changed pretty significantly when I became a stroke survivor. It took me 9 months before video games even made sense to me. I tried Lumosity in January 2015. The first day I had a 5.2% in problem solving. My LPI was a whopping 7.9%. Ouch.

Thankfully, my scores increased over time. Still, I have a lag between knowing the right answer and being able to commit my right hand to using the buttons on my laptop. (It doesn't help that I dislocated my right elbow 3 weeks ago.)

I wish I had used Luminosity before my stroke. It would have given me another reference point as I look to my strengths and weaknesses. Did they change because of my life altering experience? Yes. I can tell you they have given me a greater appreciation for life. And for video games.

The Neurotransmitters Play Too

I used to get annoyed when my husband spent "too much time" playing video games. I just didn't understand their pull. But research has discovered that you get a quick rush of dopamine when you play. This neurotransmitter (and others) can play a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Besides, it feels good to get recognized for a quest well done!

Oxytocin is the bonding hormone that signals a different variety of functions including reward, learning, memory, and social behaviors. And, when endorphins kick in, you feel as if you've finished a good battle. Nothing beats the feeling of euphoria that comes from doing something well!

Serotonin is a bit more tricky. Play too long and you will have an imbalance that makes you feel irritable or depressed. Limit your play to an hour a day and you can boost your focus and creativity. It comes down to matching the right amount of play to your schedule.

Games In The Future

Did you know that video games sales hit $61 billion according to CNBC last year? The numbers for American users break down as follows:

  • More than  59% play video games

  • Average age: 31

  • Under 18 make almost 30% of gamers

  • More than half of parents (56%) say video games positively impact children

  • 52% of gamers are male

  • 22% of the video game workforce is made up of females and 76% of game developers are men

Wait. Does that mean that 2% are something other than human?

Video game sales jumped 8% between 2014 and 2015. Looking at the data, I think that video games are generally a good thing as long as someone looks at the time allotted to make sure that playing games doesn't take over so that the kids (and adults) forget to experience life. Kids are always different from their parents. Someday, these kids will change our culture and the world by using the lessons learned and skills from playing these video games.

Would you have it any other way?

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