The Benefits of GamingAug 22, 2015 | 1 Votes
The media has always painted video games as something bad… something that parents should keep their children far, far away from. Everything something unfortunate happens in which video games are somehow involved, such as gamers dying at cyber cafes due to days of non-stop gaming, or the infamous “gaming addiction”, which some may equate to an addiction to drugs.
Games may have their share of bad reputation, but within these few years, scientists have realized the educational potential of games. How games can help improve, instead of destroy, a gamer’s life. This article will attempt to cover as many advantages that gaming can bring as long as you play them with moderation.
The most obviously educational games, such as quizzes which can test you any type of knowledge from foreign languages to the sciences, is designed in a way that the players of the games are able to learn new knowledge via a rather newly coined process called “Gamification”. This word technically means “learning via games”. In addition to quizzes, word games including Alphabetty Saga, Word Wizards, and Ruzzle can also be grouped under the term “obviously educational games” since they can easily help you to widen your vocabulary.
Aside from the obvious knowledge-improving advantages from purely educational-based games, there are plenty of other games that can boost cognitive abilities as well. One such example is the rhythm-based games. By relying on your senses, which in this case, is your hearing, you’ll be able to hone your rhythm learning abilities, allowing you to more quickly grasp patterns in sound as compared to a non-gamer. Memory games are also able to help you develop and boost your working memory - the system responsible for holding and processing new and already-stored information – no matter how old you currently are (Leiden University, 2012). This is perhaps why scientists are now calling for the use of games in combating mental decline in the elderly.
If you love hidden object games and play them often, you will realize that, over time, you’ll be able to improve your focus and concentration in addition to increasing your observational power. For people, who need to be meticulous in their work, hidden object games’ emphasis on details can most certainly prove to be useful. Having trouble with time management? Well, you can utilize the many time management games to try to enhance your time management skills too. Need help with problem solving instead? You should definitely try puzzle-based games instead! As opposed to the anti-social behavior that the media often associate gamers with, virtual world games, like Second Life and IMVU, in fact promote and encourage social interaction, and allow shy individuals to virtually come out of their shells.
Feel as though your creativity is being penned up? You can also give your creativity some breathing room by exercising that mental muscle in sandbox-type or voxel-based games like Roblox, Trove, Minecraft, and Kogama. There are even games like OurCity, a building simulation game that is specially designed for a local community (targeted at the Jordanian youths) to better understand how the government and society works. Players who are not part of the local community can still enjoy playing the game while learning about the unique culture in Jordan.
These are all casual-type games though… what about the more hardcore ones such as MMO games? Well, MMO gamers, particularly players who enjoy playing action MMOs like Skyforge, ArcheAge, Nosgoth and Vindictus, are shown to have drastically reduce reaction time as opposed to non-gaming people. This reduction in reaction time is associated to an increase in the speed of processing. In fact, a research carried out by Dye and his colleagues shown that action-based games not only managed to significantly reduce reaction times, that the increased in processing speed is not at all afflicted by reduced accuracy (meaning more mistakes) either.
Not to mention, studies have proven that the while the average person is able to track up to 4 moving objects on a screen, gamers, especially fast-paced shooter gamers, are able to track 6 to 8 objects simultaneously instead. This is mainly due to the fact that gamers often have to keep track of various tasks that are happening concurrently in the game situation. This 50 - 100% increase in a gamer’s ability to process visual cues allows them to keep track of stuff that is going on around them, making gamers a lot more observant and more situationally aware in real life.
Moreover, highly tactical and team-based games, such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Phantom, Dirty Bomb, or Blacklight Retribution, are able to refine gamers’ ability to anticipate enemy movement, further increase situational awareness, and of course, vastly improve the gamers’ twitch reflexes. That’s not all, being team-based games, gamers will be “forced” to coordinate and work cooperatively with friends or even total strangers. In the face of flamers and other cyber bullies that are unfortunately rather rampant in competitive games, gamers can learn how to be more patient as well.
Strategy games, on the other hand, are able to train their players’ brains and develop the players’ strategy planning skills. Managing a massive empire in Forge of Empires, Sparta: War of Empires, or Travian: Kingdoms, for example, not only increases the gamers’ multitasking skills by a whopping 30%, their attention span improved too.
In a research paper published in 2013 by Charlte and his team, they stated that 30 minutes of playing a day can significantly increase grey matter in the brain. By the way, grey matter is involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Other studies have even shown that games, such as Super Mario 64, are attributed to a particularly beneficial phenomenon called neuroplasticity, in which researchers have noted an increase in brain growth in the parts of the brain that are responsible for fine motor tuning, spatial navigation, and strategic planning.
In short, it is simply incredible what games can do to help us on a daily basis. In fact, games are, even as we speak, contributing to the betterment of the people who play them. Of course, there will still be that few rotten apples thrown in the mix here and there, but these bad points, such as gaming addiction, are not at all the fault of the games themselves. As long as you play games with moderation, games can help you in many wonderful ways.
So, the next time you’re feeling “guilty” that you’re playing games in your free time instead of, say... learning something new... well, don’t be! By playing games, you are learning something too!