Like every stereotype, video games come with their own sets of preconceptions. We’ve all heard parents rant about how games teach children violence. Statements like, you’ll rot your brain, go outside, and get a life are common parental reactions when their children spend too much time in front of the screen.
Yet what happens when you look at this new genre of entertainment’s possible benefits? Many changes and evolutions in tech have caused a great divide between the generation of boomers and their millennial counterparts. Video games are one of the subjects that causes much controversy. To balance out the popular opinion that videogames are unhealthy, here are a few unique points to consider:
Cyber Social Structures are Still Social when Cyber
The most commonly held caricature of a gamer is a young person, introverted, nerdy, and possibly socially inept. Perhaps this is the picture painted to those who don’t play games themselves. Ironically, many games do in fact have complex social networks. Not only does a game allow someone to play with their friends, it provides opportunities to meet and play with new people, and keep in touch with people all over the world. In fact, the majority of these game offers people access to social networks larger than most that exist in real life.
Gamification has made its way from games into numerous areas of life. It’s not uncommon to see incentive systems at work changed from policy to point system in efforts to add a game-like spin in hope to raise employee enthusiasm.
Game based learning makes light of the learning process by incorporating within it the essence of ‘play’. Being able to play through complex scenarios offers the brain a healthy way to run through various simulations. The real world is much less forgiving than a video game, which offers user a first, second, third, or infinite amount of chances to complete a goal.
The Power of Strategy
One of the greatest benefits of gaming is the ability to strategize and strengthen problem solving skills. Games as simple as Tetris and as complex as Starcraft provide users with a creative ways to solve problems. In order to solve a problem, it is often required to think both quickly and deeply about strategy.
Being able to practice complex scenarios through games not only improves teamwork and group dynamic within teams, but also benefits each individual player mentally. Studies have shown that games sharpen decisiveness, acuity, and many other mental attributes.
A Game for Everything
One of the most fascinating aspects of video games is that as a genre, it has a ridiculous amount of diversity. When you look at popular games they could be as different as Angry Birds on your mobile phone, or Brain Age on Nintendo Gameboy, or the Club Penguin social community, or as immense as the immersive World of Warcraft.
Unlike TV shows, sports or any other form of entertainment, video games contain subject matter that is virtually limitless in its diversity. Name any possible type of skill you may want to learn, and there is a game out there for it.
Maybe the most popular examples of video game hits contain violence. Maybe some people tend to spend unreasonable amounts of time in their basement playing. Although these two facts do still stand true, video games remain an untapped source of creativity and endless utility. What incredible places and scenarios can these virtual portals take us? How can they help to smear the line between imagination and reality? And from all this, what can we learn? Maybe now is the time to pay the vast world of gaming some due respect and admiration.