Friday, March 09, 2018

10 Reasons Why Video Games Help You & Society

Since the news cycle has been taken over by game developers holding a meeting with a certain someone...somewhere...anyway! It's killed the news for the week so the Weekly Link Round Up is out of commission right now. And with people kicking games in the teeth once again, blaming them for real world violence, I think this would be an ideal time to throw down a list of what makes video games great. Not just for me, or you, or for gamers in general. But for society as a whole. There are a lot of benefits in having video games in our lives, and it's important to address those on the same footing as the "violent games destroy morality" claim that goes around. We don't talk enough about the good things video games can and have done for us.

So! Here's the list of 10 Reasons Why Video Games Help You & Society:

10 - Games can make you smarter. A number of studies over the past 15-20 years have shown  video games help improve spatial reasoning, cognitive development (in turn, boosting your ability to learn), and problem solving. These are aspects of childhood and adolescence development that often go to the wayside in favor of tests and memorizing facts. But if children aren't given an interest in learning from an early age, knowing facts won't help them in the long-term. They need to be able to understand the importance of asking questions, seeking out answers, learning about their surroundings, and deducing hypothesis.  Ex. Mario Kart. You need to be aware of your space at all times, and effectively manage your resources to ensure victory - or quickly determine how to move from last to first if you get hit with the notorious blue shell.

9 - Games may help slow down mental aging. Yep. By playing video games your brain can retain information longer and help reduce the stress of aging. This one is straight up science. By playing a game your brain is staying active and firing off neurons. This stimulates certain nodes in your brain that help improve your memory. It's the same as doing crossword puzzles daily. Games like Tetris and Brain Age provide more dexterity, thus more engagement to help keep your mind moving.

8 - Games can help your eyesight. The old wives tale of TV will ruin your eyes is false. Unless you're sitting so close that all you can see are the pixels of the screen, and you'd have to be doing it constantly for decades to see any effects. Games help vision, action titles specifically, by allowing the eye to see subtle variations in the landscape to quickly react to what's happening on the screen. As we age, one of the first things we lose with our vision is seeing subtle movements, changes in color tone - minor things that can add up over time. Action games help keep our vision sharp and focused on these aspects. They've also been noted to help people recovering from eye surgery in healing faster.

7 - Games help improve hand eye coordination. And we don't mean with systems like the Wii that requires motion controls. This is for a myriad of games and consoles throughout the years. Back to Mario Kart, you need an immense amount of coordination to play that game, and it can result in you being a better driver!

6 - Games can help with depression and anxiety. There are some games that were specifically designed to address these medical issues, but if you need a perfect example of games helping those with depression, here I am! In middle school is was diagnosed with depression and it's been a life-long struggle. It's better now, but there are some days/weeks/months where I slip back and become a shell of myself. One of the things my doctor recommended was that I play more video games. She saw how it improved my mood, allowed me to be more sociable, and addressed my problems in a unique way. I wouldn't say games saved my life, but they helped me in ways that traditional therapy couldn't.

5 - Games help children and adults with dyslexia. I can also relate to this one. Not with myself but my brother. He has dyslexia and it was a struggle for years to get him to be interested in reading or anything related to school. He struggled and the educational system wouldn't help him. Video games did. Growing up the only time I saw my brother actively reading was with video games. Why? Because video games address the gamer in a different way than a text book. It's actively asking the person to engage in the content. It provides more thought and context in the story/dialogue that allows kids to connect to it. As such, it helps provide stability to their dyslexia and apply to the real world. Today my brother reads books for fun. I never thought I would see that!

4 - Games help rehab patients recover at a faster rate. Stroke, heart attack, physical rehab, you name it. Games are being used more often in facilities to get patients back on track to a healthier life. They require mental and physical functions that are sometimes lost in a stroke. By keeping up a steady regimen of gaming, people can regain their mental and physical capabilities faster than traditional methods.

3 - Games have not contributed to real world violence. And at this point we need to accept that as a fact, as more studies are produced monthly confirming this. The overall crime rate has been down every single year, and continues to drop. We even see spikes of where crime drops even more during the holiday season as games and consoles go on sale. Games are not the reason for violence nor are they encouraging it.

2 - Games help creativity! All you need to do is go to a fandom convention and you can immediately see the impact video games have had on creativity. Cosplayers, artists, musicians, writers - everyone benefits from video games. Games that use unique problem solving or dynamic content/story building are likely to help enhance our desire to create art. Thanks brain and video games for giving me the love art! Here's another study to corroborate this.

1 - Games help improve social interaction, team building, and providing empathy towards your fellow humans. Yes, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but overall when you play a game you're becoming a better person. So many of today's games require online play. Meaning you must interact with other people to reach the game's goal. In doing so you develop acquaintances, friendships. You learn more about your team. Who they are. Where they come from. Their life circumstances. We have an amazing community. We think and feel on a global level. We're active in charity work and helping our fellow gamers/humans. We know how important it is to interact with each other for us to live in today's society. Especially in this world and the current social/political climate. We only have each other to support us. Gamers know it better then everyone else the importance of us communicating, compromise, and finding solutions that benefit everyone.

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