A common misconception that’s plagued the video game industry since it took a major hold in our day to day life is the idea that video games are inherently bad for mental health and can be a cause of negative behavior and thought. A number of studies have released data showing a near opposite effect where video games can be beneficial. Recently, the Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute completed a formal scientific study that positively correlates video game play with positive well-being.

Video games offer many ways for players to practice skills virtually that may otherwise be more difficult in-person. For people with disabilities, video games provide a place where they can engage with others while adventuring, building or solving puzzles at their own pace.

We’ll look at 4 ways in which video games can benefit people with disabilities and be more than a distraction.

Communicating With More Than Words

Mainstream games typically boast ways in which players can communicate with each other via voice chat or text chat, but the beauty of video games is that there are more than just those two ways to speak to other players. Games which use visual storytelling can help people with disabilities practice how to convey their thoughts with other players without relying only on spoken or written words.

An excellent game option is The Jackbox Party Pack collections. These packs include individual games that require the player to draw pictures and act out their responses in order to communicate.

Exploring Emotions and Relationships

Many games offer a safe space where players can explore their emotions by completing tasks that have a deeper meaning beyond collecting items. Assemble with Care is a mobile Apple game where players repair sentimental items. Players get to experience loss and the ways loss can be lessened and accepted.

Developing Life Skills

Life skills like time management, routines and organization can be challenging and more often than not are quite boring to learn. Video games can make practicing these skills fun and easy to practice.

Stardew Valley is a farming simulation game that lets players build and organize gardens in creative ways while only giving the player one (game) day before exhaustion sets in.

Encouraging Fitness and Body Movement

Video games are an accessible way to introduce fitness and body movement at home. Over the last decade there have been a number of fantastic dancing, and musical games that encourage fitness through choreography and rhythm. Some games even go as far as offering nutrition and exercise tips to the player.

RingFit Adventure uses yoga poses, jogging in place and other light fitness activities as a tool to defeat enemies in an adventure setting.

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