The Social Benefits of Video Games for People With Disabilities
Video games are quickly becoming one of the most popular hobbies for individuals all around the world. With so many different types of games, platforms, and consoles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. However, when most people think about playing video games, they usually focus on the fact that video games are fun to play. While being entertained is a major part of why video games are so attractive, there are also many other benefits that they offer, even if people aren’t always aware of them.
One such benefit comes from the connection between video games and socialization. This connection is especially beneficial for people with disabilities (PWD). In this article, we’ll highlight the social benefits of video games for people with disabilities.
The Positive Social Effects of Video Games for PWD
People with disabilities often face many challenges and barriers as a result of their disability. Many of these challenges are social, since disabilities can affect how individuals are able to get around, interact with others, and communicate. However, playing video games provides opportunities for PWD that they may not normally have. Here are some of the positive social effects of playing video games for people with disabilities:
- Development of Social Skills – One of the main benefits of playing video games is that they can help with the development of social skills. Social skills include things like communication, assertiveness, coping, behavior control, problem-solving, the ability to make friends, and more. These skills are developed through interacting with others and experiencing various social situations. If someone doesn’t interact with others very often, then they may not fully develop social skills. This is even more likely for PWD who can face a range of barriers to socializing and interacting with others.
However, video games offer PWD new opportunities to socialize. In fact, there are many studies that show that video games improve social skills. This is particularly impactful for PWD who may have limited opportunities to socialize with others in their daily lives. Many video games involve multiplayer modes where players must work together, plan, and execute specific tasks in order to complete their goals, building social skills through teamwork and cooperation.
Additionally, playing video games offers the opportunity to talk to other players who have similar interests, so even when you aren’t actively playing a game, you may still be talking about it, discussing strategies, and interacting with others over something you all enjoy.
- Creation of New Friendships – Another positive social effect of video games for people with disabilities is that they can lead to the formation of new friendships. As mentioned above, playing video games opens up the possibility of meeting new people—both online and in person—who share similar interests. In fact, gamers around the world report that video games help them meet new people and connect with others who share their interests.
These new individuals you play video games with can often become friends, especially when you game with them often. Sometimes, there’s even the opportunity to meet up in person and strengthen the friendship you share. This especially helps PWD as it can be hard to make new friends in their daily lives. But video games offer an outlet where it is easier to meet and talk to people, there are opportunities to work on and develop social skills, and you know you already have something in common with others since you have the same love of games.
- Decreased Feelings of Isolation – There’s also a positive connection between video games and social isolation in PWD. Since PWD can sometimes have difficulty interacting with others, socializing, and making friends, they can often suffer from social isolation, feelings of loneliness, and even depression. Social isolation presents health risks that are comparable to smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, and it has also been linked to higher mortality rates. But playing video games can decrease the risk of social isolation, especially for PWD.
Playing video games not only helps PWD make friends, but it can also allow them to be part of a community—something that they may struggle with in their lives. When we feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves, we don’t feel as alone anymore. This allows PWD to play with other gamers like themselves who are also disabled, which provides a support system made up of individuals who share similar experiences and can relate to the difficulties they each face. There are groups around the world made up of disabled gamers who have created inclusive, supportive communities where they play, stream, and talk about video games, but they also get the chance to simply hang out with friends, share with one another, and feel a sense of belonging—just like everyone deserves to.
At AbleGamers, our mission is to create opportunities that enable play in order to combat social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. We know that video games can be the perfect gateway to community participation, lifelong friendships, and unforgettable shared experiences. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure these experiences are developed with accessibility as a priority and inclusion as the goal.
We are working every day to make sure people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else for positive experiences through play. With our nearly two decades as pioneers in inclusive play, thousands of hours working with people with disabilities, and leading developers and engineers, we create opportunities for players to find inclusive places to play and connect with family and friends. Learn more about what we do here, or help continue our crucial work by making a monetary donation or purchasing something from our shop!