Using Video Games To Your Advantage
Destructive and brain-rotting are just two terms we have come to expect when hearing about video games, but did you know video games are actually quite helpful too? Video games are becoming more and more prominent in today’s society, being found in 38% of homes in America in the year 2007. As this number increases so does the number of misconceptions about video games. Some of these misconceptions include that video games make children violent or antisocial. The truth is however that video games have served to strengthen the minds of our youths in many ways by increasing the problem solving capabilities of players, leadership skills and social skills.
Video games helped to develop players problem solving skills in many ways by exposing players to open ended challenges, making players reflect on past challenges and skills and pattern analysis to progress through a story or improve in game skill. Putting players in situations without providing structure or instructions allows players to freedom to explore surroundings, as a paper from the Radboud University Nijmegen says, “Many children and youth problem-solve through trial and error, recursively collecting evidence which they test through experimentation,” this allows children to learn how to be self-efficient and problem-solve without instruction. Also, making players reflect on past challenges allows gamers to learn a specific skill called, reflective sense. This ability meant players would more often choose to “gather information, evaluate various options, formulate a plan, and consider changing strategies and/or goals before proceeding further,” allowing players to more efficiently tackle problems. Finally, gamers learn pattern analysis very easily in games like shooters where remembering movement patterns in opponents can give you a leg up on the competition. This pattern analysis could easily translate into math and science where catching signs of change in a pattern can make solving a problem much easier.
Leadership skills are very important to everyone as being a good leader can help you in all aspects of life and video games can play a major role in learning leadership skills by teaching gamers things such as planning, resource management and quick decision making. To start, planning is almost always needed when playing games to guarantee success. A study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus showed that when a group of adults who play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day are compared to a group that play no video games “In comparison to the control group the video gaming group showed increases of grey matter, in which the cell bodies of the nerve cells of the brain are situated…These brain regions are involved in functions such as spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine motor skills of the hands.” Video games also teach resource management through strategy and RTS (real-time strategy) games by only giving a set amount of a resource and telling you the only way to gain more of it is to spend it wisely. This approach helps to promote risk-taking and reasoned judgement to become a good leader. Finally, quick decision making is always apparent in video games, especially of the shooter and action genres. This quick decision making caused by apparent and constant dangers help leaders to think on their feet and become better in crisis situations that are common to real-world leaders.
Social skills are under constant scrutiny by those against video games but video games such as MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) and multiplayer shooters actually help to improve social skills by enforcing positive behavior, causing you to make quick decisions about trust and friendship and by allowing players to work cooperatively with others to accomplish a like goal. First, many video games do enforce prosocial behavior through bans and blocks if a player becomes too negative but many also positively reinforce prosocial behavior too by allowing you to help others through gifts such as in Farmville or Candy Crush Saga or by making challenges only available to teams or groups of people such as raids in World Of Warcraft all helping to point players in the direction cooperation rather than competition. Second, video games such as World Of Warcraft or any other MMO can cause you to make quick decisions about whether to trust someone about whether annot to watch your back or if you think your friendship is strong enough with someone to allow them to grab a stash of “loot” while you cover them entrusting them to divide it up later. These quick decision making skills in-game can help gamers later in life to decide who they can trust in social situations reinforcing positive choices both in real life and in-game. Finally, video games allow players to work together cooperatively in a team environment whether it be in a shooter like Team Fortress Two where teams work together to either protect or capture a base or in an MMO like Rust where groups can form together to help collect resources and build a home to be proud of. This helps gamers in real life to learn how to work with others and understand all roles in a group.
In conclusion video have served the new generation of youth by teaching them many lifelong skills such as problem solving, leadership and social skills. As today’s society continues to become modernized more consoles are brought into homes and more misconceptions are created. These progressions however have helped to stop the common misconceptions about video games and turn them into positive teaching tools for youth.