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I’ve been talking a lot here about the benefits of video games in celebration of the summer reading theme. Last time I talked about how playing video games can help with literacy.

Today, I will discuss some physical benefits of playing video games. Video games can help with not only hand-eye coordination but motor skills as well.  

While there are several types of motor skills, they get lumped into two categories: fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills use those more minor muscles in your hands and wrists, which help you with tasks such as writing or even turning the pages of a book. Gross motor skills use bigger muscle groups and help you with skills such as crawling, walking, or running.  

Sometimes, these are developed through sports, fitness activities, physical therapy, playing on the playground, or even during storytime. However, studies show that these skills can also be developed through video games. 

A study out of The University of Hong Kong showed that a group who completed ten 1-hour sessions of playing Mario Kart, a racing game where players used a steering wheel controller to drive a go-kart on a virtual track, showed more significant improvement in motor skill over those who played Roller Coaster Tycoon, a less ‘active’ video game (using a keyboard and mouse, and not a game controller.) Another study, which had participants coordinate hand movements with a moving dot on a screen, showed that while gamers and non-gamers started at a relatively even skill level, gamers far outpaced non-gamers as the experiment continued. The study concluded that gamers are better at learning new fine motor skills.  

In my research for this post, I found studies linking video games to improved fine motor skills and improved hand-eye coordination, but I didn’t find much on the relationship between video games and gross motor skills.  

However, some games do get your whole body moving. 

First popularized in arcades, games like Dance Dance Revolution got you moving by stepping on arrows at the appropriate time (to a beat) on a large dance pad. Later, consoles like the Wii brought other rhythm-based and fitness games into the home. Now, people can play tennis, ski, or go bowling in their living rooms through a video game console and motion controls.  

There are a lot of benefits to being active: improving strength or balance or even getting you in a better mood (the topic for my next post). 

This is not to say that video games replace going out and playing tennis or skiing. But it can be more accessible in terms of proximity, age, or physical ability.  

So, if you’d like to level up your dance skills by dancing like nobody is watching (while nobody is watching), and maybe develop some gross motor skills, then Just Dance might be the game for you. 

If you’d rather sit and relax and work on that fine motor skill, I encourage you to check out (literally) any of the other games in our new video game collection.