Have you ever shared a loot drop with a teammate, guided your friend through a game new to them, or got something for a pal on the Steam sale? You may have felt great about it. Your friend got to get a new game experience or a level up because of you, and now you're ready to take on the wide-open world. There's science behind it.
Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist from the world outside our gaming universe (Cleveland Clinic, to be exact), studied how the happy chemicals in our brain are related to gift-giving. When we give or help, our brains go into 'Epic Reward' mode, releasing a power combo of healthy chemicals. We're talking about serotonin, our built-in mood stabilizer; dopamine, which gives you a sense of pleasure; and oxytocin, which creates your social connection.
States Dr Albers:
"When we do things for other people, it makes us feel much more engaged and joyful… that's good for our health and our happiness."
Gaining these happy brain chemicals can help us in so many other ways! It's not just giving your friend a game; it can be so much more than that.
Sharing is caring, and not just for your guild! Gifting a game or helping others can lower your real-life blood pressure and boost your heart stats. It's like getting an in-game HP boost, but the effects spill over into reality.
Acts of digital kindness can reduce your cortisol levels, the pesky stress hormone that can make you feel stuck in a glitch. And we all know that our stress levels are way off the charts. I'm looking at you.
Gamers who lend a helping hand to others or surprise them with a game gift tend to gain extra life on their health bar. Research has shown that people who volunteer or regularly give live longer lives than others.
Just like the thrill of cracking a tricky game puzzle or the joy of gifting and receiving games, giving can light up your brain's reward center, triggering a 'gamer's high.' This secret buff boosts self-esteem, ramps up happiness, and keeps those real-life debuffs (like depression) at bay.
It’s also good to remember that you don't need money to give or receive these happy brain chemical health benefits. It could be as easy as helping a younger sibling complete a level in Mario or giving successful commands to your teams on comms. It's the holiday season, and our spirits should be high! Game on, and get those brain chemicals movin'.
Source: Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Why Giving Is Good for Your Health. Retrieved December 07, 2023, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/