Benefits Of Playing Video Games

The main benefits of playing video games involve enhancing mental skills that include:

    1. Problem solving and logic – When a child plays a game such as The Incredible Machine, Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, he trains his brain to come up with creative ways to solve puzzles and other problems in short bursts
    2. Hand-eye coordination, fine motor and spatial skills. In shooting games, the character may be running and shooting at the same time. This requires the real-world player to keep track of the position of the character, where he/she is heading, his speed, where the gun is aiming, if the gunfire is hitting the enemy, and so on. All these factors need to be taken into account, and then the player must then coordinate the brain’s interpretation and reaction with the movement in his hands and fingertips. This process requires a great deal of eye-hand coordination and visual-spatial ability to be successful.  Research also suggests that people can learn iconic, spatial, and visual attention skills from video games.  There have been even studies with adults showing that experience with video games is related to better surgical skills. Also, a reason given by experts as to why fighter pilots of today are more skillful is that this generation’s pilots are being weaned on video games.
    3. Planning, resource management and logistics.  The player learns to manage resources that are limited, and decide the best use of resources, the same way as in real life.  This skill is honed in strategy games such as SimCity, Age of Empires, and Railroad Tycoon. Notably, The American Planning Association, the trade association of urban planners and Maxis, the game creator, have claimed that SimCity has inspired a lot of its players to take a career in urban planning and architecture.
    4. Multitasking, simultaneous tracking of many shifting variables and managing multiple objectives.  In strategy games, for instance, while developing a city, an unexpected surprise like an enemy might emerge.  This forces the player to be flexible and quickly change tactics.

Cognitive researcher Daphne Bavalier talks about how video games can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask.

  1. Quick thinking, making fast analysis and decisions.  Sometimes the player does this almost every second of the game giving the brain a real workout. According to researchers at the University of Rochester, led by Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist, games simulating stressful events such as those found in battle or action games could be a training tool for real-world situations. The study suggests that playing action video games primes the brain to make quick decisions. Video games can be used to train soldiers and surgeons, according to the study. Importantly, decisions made by action-packed video game players are no less accurate. According to Bavelier, “Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference.”
  2. Accuracy – Action games, according to a study by the University of Rochester, train the player’s brain to make faster decisions without losing accuracy. In today’s world, it is important to move quickly without sacrificing accuracy.
  3. Strategy and anticipation – Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, calls this “telescoping.” The gamer must deal with immediate problems while keeping his long-term goals on his horizon.
  4. Situational awareness – – Defense News reported that the Army includes video games to train soldiers to improve their situational awareness in combat. Many strategy games also require the player to become mindful of sudden situational changes in the game and adapt accordingly.
  5. Developing reading and math skills – The young gamer reads to get instructions, follow storylines of games, and get information from the game texts.  Also, using math skills is important to win in many games that involve quantitative analysis like managing resources.
  6. Perseverance – In higher levels of a game, the player usually fails the first time around, but he keeps on trying until he succeeds and moves on to the next level.
  7. Pattern recognition – Games have internal logic in them, and the player figures it out by recognizing patterns.
  8. Estimating skills
  9. Inductive reasoning and hypothesis testing – James Paul Gee, professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that playing a video game is similar to working through a science problem. Like a student in a laboratory, the gamer must come up with a hypothesis. For example, the gamer must constantly try out combinations of weapons and powers to use to defeat an enemy.  If one does not work, he changes hypothesis and try the next one.  Video games are goal-driven experiences, says Gee, which are fundamental to learning.
  10. Mapping – The gamer use in-game maps or build maps on his head to navigate around virtual worlds.
  11. Memory – Playing first person shooter games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield series enables the player to effectively judge what information should be stored in his working memory and what can be discarded considering the task at hand, according to a study published in the Psychological Research.
  12.  Concentration – A study conducted by the Appalachia Educational Laboratory reveals that children with attention-deficit disorder who played Dance Dance Revolution improve their reading scores by helping them concentrate.
  13. Improved ability to rapidly and accurately recognize visual information – A study from Beth Israel Medical Center NY, found a direct link between skill at video gaming and skill at the keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery. Doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 % fewer mistakes in surgery and performed the task 27% faster than non-gaming surgeons. Another study found that people who play video games on a regular basis are better at registering visual data and are therefore quicker visual learners. They are also more resistant to perceptual interference, and are therefore able to learn for a longer period of time in distracting environments.
  14. Reasoned judgments
  15. Taking risks – Winning in any game involves a player’s courage to take risks. Most games do not reward players who play safely.
  16. How to respond to challenges
  17. How to respond to frustrations
  18. How to explore and rethink goals
  19. Teamwork and cooperation when played with others – Many multiplayer games such as Team Fortress 2 involve cooperation with other online players in order to win. These games encourage players to make the most of their individual skills to contribute to the team. According to a survey by Joan Ganz Cooney Center, teachers report that their students become better collaborators after using digital games in the classroom.
  20. Management – Management simulation games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo tycoon teach the player to make management decisions and manage the effective use of finite resources. Other games such as Age of Empires and Civilization even simulate managing the course of a civilization.
  21. Simulation, real world skills.  The most well known simulations are flight simulators, which attempt to mimic the reality of flying a plane. All of the controls, including airspeed, wing angles, altimeter, and so on, are displayed for the player, as well as a visual representation of the world, and are updated in real time.
  22. Non-English speaking players report learning English by playing games.

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