Photo: Rockstar Games
Video games are often accused of leading teens to violent and anti social behaviour.However, as an industry that brings in over $25 billion in annual revenue and captures the free time of more and more children and adults, researchers are starting to consider the real consequences of playing video games. You may find the conclusions they are coming to surprising.
It turns out that playing video games can actually make you smarter and help you to develop important skills that are necessary to succeed in a 21st century labour market.
Here’s what the experts are saying.
'Being immersed in a video game, and having your brain stimulated, can encourage creative solutions and adaptations. These beneficial ideas and thoughts can then be applied to real life situations. The results can be surprisingly positive for individuals, communities, and society as a whole.'
- Alan S. Weiss, M.D., President
By nature, video games require that players solve problems and make decisions about how they are going to play the game and complete tasks.
'Gamers co-author the games they play by the choices they make and how they choose to solve problems, since what they do can affect the course and sometimes the outcome of the game.' -James Paul Gee
More and more games are including the option to play in multiplayer mode. Additionally, massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) like the new Star Wars: The Old Republic are growing huge communities at very fast rates.
Gamers who play multiplayer or MMOGs are learning collaboration skills because the games are built to be a collaborative space.
Multiplayer and MMOGs games are played online, which allows players, through their avatars, to interact not only with the gaming software and designed environment, but also with the avatars of other players.
These games can have players work in teams, against other teams, to complete a set of objectives.
Add to that the fan sites, discussion boards, and game information data bases that are formed around popular games and you have millions of people from around the world gaining collaboration skills from playing video games.
As Stanford PhD and video game designer Dr. Jane McGonigal puts it, 'gamers spend nearly all of their time failing. Roughly four times out of five, gamers don't complete the mission, run out of time, don't solve the puzzle, lose the fight, fail to improve their score, crash and burn, or die.'
And it turns out that gamers really enjoy doing this.
Any entrepreneur will recognise the value of knowing how to fail well but this is a skill that isn't only important for CEO's. Everyone can learn something from having to persevere and work hard to complete a goal.
According to ASU New Literacy Studies professor James Paul Gee, video games give us the opportunity to experience the world in new ways and respond to different environments and scenarios.
Games situate players in meaning because the players must interact with the designed space to solve problems and reflect on the game's scenarios. In this situation both real and imagined social relationships and identities are at play.
Video games provide an easy lead-in to computer literacy.
They can get you thinking like a video game designer and can even lead to designing since many games come with software to modify the game or redesign it. -James Paul Gee
They also teach you essential cognitive skills that are needed for jobs in engineering and tech such as decision-making, critical thinking, collaboration, and mastery of content according to ASU digital tehcnologies professor Betty Hayes.
According to Jane McGonigal, author of Reality Broken: How Video Games Can Change The World, 'games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves.'
Usually hard work is only something that we do because we have to do it.
Video games have often been labelled as being escapist but Jane McGonigal thinks that video games can become a purposeful escape to cultivate personal and social change.
Out of these aspirations funding has been raised and game development companies have begun working on a new game genre known as 'positive impact games.' Positive impact games aim to harness the power of video game platforms to get gamers working to solve some of life's biggest problems.