Online gaming could sound like a time suck, but to Australia’s leading voice of mainstream gaming Stephanie Bendixsen, it’s a great form of mental exercise and tension release for the brain.
“Gaming for me gives my brain a focus without the stress of having to deliver anything to anyone. It’s a way for my brain to feel happily engaged in an activity, making decisions and solving basic problems – at my own pace and without any agenda other than enjoyment. It’s quite liberating, actually. And when you think about it that way – the brain health benefits attached to gaming are unsurprising,” she says.
Known as Hex in the gaming world, Stephanie says gaming for her has always been about escapism.
“Typically, I like to play expansive open-world role-playing games. I’m an avid reader, I love fantasy fiction – and video games can be a wonderful extension of that. I love the agency games give you to make your own decisions, choose which direction to explore in, and often make narrative choices that affect the story itself. It’s what sets video games apart from film, tv and books.”
Gaming can also lead to better brain health through the social interaction players can get from online multiplayer games.
“Because of COVID lockdowns and moving out of Sydney – I rely on games much more for my social interaction than I did before. There’s a great community of people around the specific games we’re collectively passionate about, and the show I make with my colleague has a really loyal audience – many of which I’ve become really close with also,” Stephanie says.
And the good news is, you don’t have to be skilled to enjoy gaming if you are a beginner or you’ve never played before.
“The culture around games has changed so much for the better – and I largely attribute that to the presence of women. Both in development and just in the community. A more diverse range of people playing and making games means a more diverse range of experiences.”
Stephanie’s top 3 games for beginners:
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