Did you ever think you could benefit from playing video games? Video games have been a highly debatable topic over the last decade or so. Concerns arose over violent video games and the idea that they might encourage negative behaviors and make players more aggressive. There is much still to debate, but some research has shown that those claims are not true. Research has also shown that video games can have a variety of positive effects on gamers of all ages.
Playing video games requires high level thinking and hand-eye coordination skills. Playing games exercises these skills and gives your brain a workout. Some of these skills are not taught in school. Let’s take a look at how you can benefit:
- Reading skills are improved by reading and following instructions, game information, and clues to complete tasks and follow storylines.
- Math skills are developed by using quantitative analysis to manage resources. In games like Clash of Clans and SimCity, gamers need to manage limited resources and make decisions about how to spend those resources most efficiently. These skills can be applied to management of personal finance.
- Although shooting games are violent, they can be very efficient in teaching hand-eye coordination, motor, and spatial skills. In a shooter game (like Call of Duty and Halo), the gamer may be running and shooting at the same time. The gamer has to keep track of the enemy, (where they’re going and how fast they’re moving), focus the crosshairs on the enemy, and make sure gunfire is hitting the target. While interpreting all of this information the gamer has to coordinate proper reactions with their hands and fingers to move and shoot with certain buttons on the controller. Hand-eye coordination and spatial skills are required to be successful.
- Video games that simulate stressful situations found in action & adventure games (like Tomb Raider and Uncharted) and can be training tools for real-world situations. Action video games require gamers to think and analyze quickly, and make decisions based on the situation. These games can increase skill and speed for critical thinking and situational awareness.
- If you fall down, get back up! Games like Candy Crush provide what seem like an endless number of levels with each level getting a little more difficult as you progress. When a gamer starts to get out of the basic and intermediate levels, it is very common to lose on the first try at a harder level. Gamers continue trying to beat the level to be successful and move on. This teaches a valuable lesson in perseverance - if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, again!
- In many games, strategy and multitasking come into play. Whether the game is action/adventure (Batman Arkham Series), fighting (Mortal Kombat), platform (Super Mario), puzzle (Tetris), racing (Forza Motorsport), real-time strategy (StarCraft), role-playing (Dragon Age), shooter (Titanfall), turn base (Final Fantasy), or something else, there is always a strategy involved. Gamers need to plan for a long term goal, but also need multitasking skills when unexpected surprises (like new enemies arriving) take place. Gamers will need to alter their strategy to address the immediate problem while keeping their long term goal in reach. This helps gamers develop an ability to adapt and to prepare for unexpected challenges and changes in games, and in real life.
- Online gaming affords opportunities for socialization. Early in the history of gaming, there were concerns about gamers becoming socially isolated because they were playing games by themselves. However, online games are quite socially active. Communication with other players is available by vocal and/or text communication. In a lot of online game modes, gamers need to work together to achieve their goal. This develops teamwork skills and helps gamers become better collaborators when working in a group.
- Gaming can promote family bonding. Some games have multiplayer game modes for a night of fun with the whole family. I can remember game night “back in my day”, playing Mario Kart 64 and Mario Party with my parents and brother. Those nights were a ton of fun!
- You might be thinking you’re too old to play video games. Believe it or not doctors are telling patients of all ages to play video games. Studies show that playing games can improve attention, focus, memory, problem solving skills, and spatial recall. The Islip Library is offering a Brain Fitness Computer Games Course - Friday June 17, 2016 - 10:00 am → Register now to reserve your seat!
- Video games can help you lose weight! . . . What? Nintendo Wii U, Playstation 4 and Xbox One have the ability to monitor your motions for certain games. Additional accessories may be required. In a bowling game, you simulate the motion of throwing a bowling ball. Based on your mechanics, the ball will go down the lane or in a gutter. This also applies to exercising games, you can do a workout program on your console and the better your form is the more points you get in the game. Although this is a fun way to exercise, you should still get outside as well!
Concerned parents should monitor game play just like they would television viewing. Decide what games are acceptable for your child by considering your child’s maturity, and by the game rating located on the cover of the case. Explain to your child the reason if a game might not be appropriate for them.
Come on in and get a game! The Library offers video games available to check out for the following systems: Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
For more information on the pros and cons of video games and brain fitness, search our online magazine, newspaper, & journal databases for scholarly articles. A good place to start is MasterFile Elite which is accessible from our website; you will need your Library card to access the resources.