From Pac-man to Playstation, video games have become a big part of our culture. This year, on September 12, gamers all over the country will want to mark their calendars for National Video Game Day.

With 24 hours dedicated to the pastime of video games, gamers will want get their together with friends to celebrate the occasion. Whether you dig out some old consoles to play long-time favorites, or take on some of the newest VR titles, this is the day to play as much as you like, guilt free.

Video Game Day on September 12, is a great excuse to host a gathering and celebrate with other gamers.

Brief History of Video Games

An electronic game played by means of images on a video screen, often emphasizing fast action—or video game—has become an art form and industry. Check out the colorful history and innovations of video games.

1972: The world’s first home-gaming console, the Magnavox Odyssey, was brought to living rooms, and 300,000 units were sold.

1977: The Atari 2600 offered variety with its game cartridges. Fan favorites, such as Space Invaders, have sold more than 25 million units over its lifetime.

1983: More than three decades ago, a United States National Video Game Team was founded in Ottumwa, Iowa.

1983: Japan was introduced to the family computer or the Nintendo Entertainment System. Within two years, Super Mario Bros. was stocked on the shelves in the U.S.

1989: With Nintendo’s Game Boy, mobile gaming went mainstream. It went on to sell 118 million units.

1994: Sony’s PlayStation entered the scene with engineering that accommodated quickly improving graphics. Then, the release of PlayStation 2 was released in 2000, selling 150 million units.

2003: Second Life’s avatar-driven, 3-D world was introduced.

2004: World of Warcraft and its virtual fantasy planet of Azeroth opened to 12 million paying subscribers.

2010: In response to Nintendo Wii’s motion-based interface, Microsoft introduced Kinect for Xbox 360. It tracks users’ motions with no controller required.

2011: At only three-and-a-half inches, Nintendo’s 3DS made small-screen history with the first mainstream, glasses-free 3-D display.

Why Video Games are Good for You

The time can fly by while playing video games. The average age of a gamer is 30, but the obsession starts in childhood. Many parents have rules and time allotments for children and their video games. In fact, they have become a great incentive for getting chores and homework done—for fear that they may be taken away.

While some people view playing video games as a waste of time, take note that they do have many positive effects. They are a surprisingly good thing when played in moderation. Spending between 20 to 30 minutes a day at the end of the day playing games is ideal.

National Video Games Day: What’s your favorite video game?

The Ability to Overcome Dyslexia

Video gaming has shown some benefits in overcoming dyslexia. Researchers do not completely understand dyslexia and why it only affects some people. One theory is that attention problems lead to dyslexia, and the benefit of computer games is that they force people to concentrate for long periods of time. Some people may not even realize they are concentrating for these lengths of time.

The games are full of changing sceneries. Gamers must read instructions that pop up, often with voices also speaking the text. Instructions need to be followed, and missions need to be completed. People must focus so intently that the brain changes the way it is made up. (Studies are underway to understand this benefit further.)

Vision May Improve

An old belief is that sitting too close to the computer or television negatively affects the vision. However, people do not sit that close to the television with most computer games since the cords and controllers are much longer. It is possible to sit on the other side of the room while playing video games.

Studies have shown that computer gaming can improve vision, because people are forced to look for details on the screen and distinguish between different shades of the same color. In addition, people with lazy eyes have shown improvement. This was proven in studies where the good eye was covered, and the gamer was forced to view through the lazy eye. The eyes are surrounded by muscles, and their strengthening corrected lazy eyes to the degree that there was no longer a problem.

Become More Physical

At one time, video games involved sitting for hours at a time to complete missions and get to the end of the game. Computer games today involve a physical aspect—Just Dance, the Wii Fit, Guitar Hero and more. They involve standing and dancing around the room, building muscles, improving posture and focusing on weight loss.

Children who play sports video games are more likely to become interested in sports on the field. They may join teams or practice the skills they see in the game in their “real life.”

Creative Benefits

Military games involve getting through missions and figuring out where to go. There is a need to figure out creative ways to beat the bad guys, especially on the harder levels. In sports games, getting to another level might take doing things differently, such as devising new tricks on the snowboard or skateboard.

In Minecraft and the Sims, the objective is to create families and worlds, as well as build houses. Developing universes and creating characters that never existed before and telling a story through the games develops with each round played.

Improve Memory and Other Cognitive Abilities

Brains need to keep working to function at their highest level, and computer games may be able to help. Over time, people start to recognize patterns in the games. An important part of video games is to remember missions, characters, what the various items in the games do and more. Finding creative ways to get through the stages of games will also stimulate the brain.

The Wii Fit features a game to solve math problems. The gamer hits balls to answer the questions by moving the hips. This provides a physical and mental workout. Some games call for memory tasks and answers to questions.

Take Attention off Pain

Video gaming can help reduce the amount of pain felt. While playing video games, the mind is taken off the pain, and focus is on the game. In addition, playing video games releases endorphins, the painkiller hormone. This boosts the body’s natural ability to get rid of the pain.

Improve Social Skills and Build Connections

Social skills improve while playing video games. Most units can now connect online and allow chatting with other people who play the games. Some chats are live and through headsets, while others are through forums connected to the games. There is a sense of belonging as people build these connections.

Social skills are improved under pressure. A player may need to direct orders to team members while playing a game. There is a stress aspect, and the player needs to make clear and concise communications.

Deeper Friendships with People

Playing video games helps to forge deeper friendships, as well as develop connections and network with others. Gamers may not be in the same town—or even the same country—but many have a lot of similarities. Even though it may not be possible to meet up in person, there are individuals to turn to online if the person has a problem. In addition, the feeling of being accepted for who they are is important, and it is a good way to open up and forge friendships elsewhere.

Make Faster Decisions to Improve Life

In video games, deciding paths to take, missions to accomplish and actions to perform to get tasks done require decision-making skills. While it is not necessarily about learning how to make the right decision, it teaches how to decide. Playing video games means that when decisions must be made, it is necessary to act calmly under pressure to get to the next stage.

Curb Food Cravings and Keep Weight Down

When people are playing a game, their focus is on the screen, and their hands are busy with the controller. They barely have time to pick up food, eat and drink. When the mind is busy, it is off the thought of snacks.

Minimum Stress

Sometimes people become so engrossed in games they forget about their stresses. When a person struggles with stress and poor sleep, they may find that a bit of video gaming helps. For a great way to unwind after a long day, people can focus purely on the missions in front of them.

Better Surgeons

People who play video games find their hands are always working. There are details on the screen, the need to make quick decisions and keep the stress levels down. Work must be done within small spaces while controlling the accuracy on targets. Surgeons must work in small spaces, and there is little or no room for error. One of the biggest benefits of playing video games for people who are in training or have become surgeons, according to some studies, is they will be able to perform more intricate surgeries without as many errors.