Mobile gaming is generally considered to be a casual pastime. Fun at best, but of no real value to the world. At worst, it is accused of causing gaming addictions which negatively influence our moral attitudes. For example, by making us more selfish.

In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the opposite is true. Gaming can improve our moral-decision making and encourage us to become better people. Here’s how:

1. Games increase empathy

POX: Save the Puppies is a mobile game which requires the player to fight the spread of disease by vaccinating puppies. A simple concept with a profound impact on our empathic values. It forces us to think about the importance of vaccines for saving animals. 

By using games to improve our empathetic responses to others’ problems, we are motivated to help others in our real lives. And studies show that children exposed to empathy-targeted games are better at recognising emotions on others’ faces.

2. Games improve emotional regulation

Games challenge us with scenarios we are unlikely to encounter in real life, and the freedom to experiment with our emotions. We are required to work through frustration, anger, and fear. We experience happiness and fulfilment when we progress to the next level. And in our real lives, we improve as people. 

Just 30 minutes of casual gaming a day can boost mental health and the ability to regulate our emotions. This improves our ability to forge connections with others, and we become motivated to make positive changes to the world around us.

3. Games encourage engagement with the world

Games can change our real-life perceptions and influence our actions in the real world. This is not a new idea. In 1904, the ‘Landlord’s Game’ (now Monopoly) was invented for the sole purpose of educating people about the adverse effects of property hoarding.

Nowadays, mobile games offer an even more wide-spread opportunity to encourage gamers to engage with the world around them and influence positive change. For example, the game Ecoheir will encourage people to become more engaged with issues facing our environment and become more environmentally friendly.