The Benefits of Playing Video Games for People With Disabilities

image provided by Ability KC one person standing in the back of the room two other persons using different adaptive gaming devices and controllers to play video games

The Benefits of Playing Video Games for People With Disabilities

Video games can be a divisive topic, particularly between parents and children. Parents often view video games as a waste of time and think that no good can come from them. On the other hand, gaming can be a big part of a child’s life and one of their favorite hobbies. But video games aren’t just for kids, and they aren’t a waste of time either.

In fact, 38% of gamers in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34, proving that video games are for everyone. But what about the misconception that video games are simply a waste of time? Well, there are actually many benefits of video games for those who play them. We know that video games are not a waste of time as 84% of gamers around the world report that video games help them connect with other people that share similar interests. Additionally, video games have proven to help gamers discover new interests, learn about interesting topics, and even learn more about themselves.

These benefits are particularly valuable for a certain group of people: people with disabilities (PWD). In this article, we’ll highlight the benefits of playing video games for people with disabilities.

Who Are People With Disabilities?

People with disabilities are individuals who are disabled in some way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 4 American adults have a disability—that’s over 60 million people. There are also over 3 million children under the age of 18 that have disabilities. Disabilities can range in type and severity, but the 6 main categories of disabilities are:

  • Mobility (difficulty with walking, getting around, or moving)
  • Hearing (difficulty with hearing and audio cues)
  • Vision (difficulty seeing)
  • Cognition (difficulty with things like remembering, making decisions, and concentrating)
  • Independent living (difficulty performing necessary tasks like running errands)
  • Self-care (difficulty performing activities of daily living)

People with disabilities often need some sort of assistance in their daily lives. They may have a more difficult time performing certain tasks or activities. While most people would think of assistance as using a wheelchair, having someone else help with certain tasks, or using an alternative form of communication, there are also other things that benefit people with disabilities, including video games. So, what are the benefits of playing video games for people with disabilities?

How People With Disabilities Benefit From Playing Video Games

  • Increased Opportunities To Experience the World – Individuals who have disabilities that limit their mobility may not be able to easily explore the world. However, with video games and new technologies, they can experience the world through their screen and explore new places. While most places in video games are fictional, virtual reality (VR) has made exploring the real world possible, even from your own home.
  • Improved Mental Well-Being – There are also some health benefits of video games, primarily the improvement of mental well-being. Depression and disability are correlated, and the prevalence of depression in adults with disabilities is estimated to be between 25% and 41%. Video games can provide an outlet for people with disabilities to de-stress, allow them to be whoever they want to be, work toward a specific goal, feel a sense of accomplishment, and even help improve their self-esteem.
  • Help With Learning and Cognitive Skills – Additionally, there are cognitive benefits of playing video games, which can help people with disabilities, especially when those disabilities affect learning and cognition. Many video games involve critical thinking, reading, writing, decision-making, and more activities that can help PWD learn new things in a fun, easy-to-understand way, improving their cognitive skills through the decisions they make during gameplay.
  • Improved Fine Motor Skills – Another one of the benefits of video games for people with disabilities is that they can help to improve fine motor skills. Nearly all video games are played using some type of controller and require hand-eye coordination, so playing them can help individuals develop and improve their ability to control and manipulate things. Additionally, research has shown that active video games in particular benefit people with disabilities with motor skill development.
  • Reduced Social Isolation – One of the main benefits of playing video games for people with disabilities is that it reduces social isolation. Around 40% of individuals with a disability or chronic illness report feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Because of these disabilities and illnesses, many of these individuals have difficulty meeting and connecting with other people. However, playing video games provides them the opportunity to meet new people from all around the world—instantly. This way, they can talk with others, play together and be a part of a team, build friendships, and become part of different communities. The social benefits of video games are valuable for all gamers, but they are even more impactful for PWD who may struggle to interact with others.

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, 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!