So I spotted a lot of blog posts and articles on gaming and media websites about a recent study showing evidence that playing video games can improve you cognitive skills in one area or another. My Immediate reaction? Well duh, If I do anything that demands a certain part of me over time I will be better at it, that is the way the human body acclimates to repetition. I do understand that for many there wasn’t perhaps a very discernible benefit to playing games, so I thought I’d just take a look at the few things I have gotten from the experience, however know that these are my personal developments and that the person is important in how they respond to the scenarios and situations at hand.
Forethought. In playing video games we pretty much always play as the protagonist, the one whose actions have effect on the world and our decisions having visceral consequences. Through playing over the years I have become much more thoughtful about every action, in reality it isn’t hard to find someone who acts impulsively and doesn’t think things through. I can assure you they will suck at playing most games due to the nature of the learning environment. Even with more recent gaming generations bringing more flexibility to achieve an objective, thinking ahead is pivotal to success in all situations. What are my options? What happens if that guy spots me? Do I have enough health to succeed with this plan? Will I be able to push on if I suffer a lot of damage unnecessarily? Considerations for not only how to deal with variables in the short term but also the long term are massive personal and business skills, who wouldn’t want to trust that a friend or employee can look ahead of all their actions and be prepared for problems? The number one reason most games don’t come out is because of a lack of scope and a lack of forethought, there isn’t wiggle room for errors and they fall flat, an issue that shouldn’t occur from the very people who should be helping people improve these skills!
Self Reflection. Through experience we find out who we are both as a person and as a species, through observation and debate of our actions and those around us. When given a chance to help out someone vulnerable, regardless of the game I always want to do so out of the goodness in my heart. I enjoy seeing people rise up from problems or suffering and taking hold of their lives, I am what I might consider an improvement/progression addict. I love the feeling of myself or others taking a step forward. You know what I also found? When confronted with something I didn’t agree with, I refuse to back-down without a reasonable argument, I recently had a bit of a tiff with someone when I was being rather calm and sociable and they went and threatened me for something I know for a fact I did not do in the slightest, they were just avoiding the topic at hand. I rose my voice very loudly, I brought out curse after curse, I was furious that someone would try and treat me like that. This is the kind of person I am, I go out of my way to engage when I think something is wrong, I am not the kind of person to let what I believe is wrong or questionable go by unmet by challenge. My mother says that I have a strong sense of determination and that i have the drive to chase after something I want, to which I wholeheartedly agree. She had only said such things in my later years of life, perhaps because there wasn’t cause for it or there wasn’t any examples she knew of. I of course was well aware of this trait, I have gone back again and again to face the most challenging of bosses, the most vicious of trials that stand in the way of my personal desires within the game.
Wisdom. I have always held by the notion that the average man learns from his own life, the wise man learns from a hundred lives. We all have limited time on this planet and to me suggesting that I should learn from my mistakes is folly, I should learn from every mistake ever made. In looking to other people I can learn about their experiences as I would my own without having to fall into the trappings they did. Gaming puts us in a new life every time we play as a new character or a new role, when choices are made of events that are a result of a “what if” scenario for humanity or an allegory, I can be in that role of the survivor or what have you, even if the experience is but one designers perspective on people might react to a given situation. I find it upsetting that it isn’t too far off when people to say that my generation is the most unwise of all generations in contrast to how easy and how much history is available to us. We have the records of an entire species on our portable machines and yet we still fall into the ways of the failures of our past. Learn not only from your errs but also from others, playing video games has given me the opportunity to live and learn from a thousand lives in a year, in situations that are beyond my years and beyond my reach entirely.
These are but a few ways the medium has benefited me through simple play, no specific intentional lessons like an educational games but rather passive ways of teaching and letting the players translate those actions and what they draw from them into other areas of their lives. Do you suffer from playing too many games? Yes, like all things, a lack of moderation will lead to harm. The games are inherently bad, but this goes back to my point about this all being my experience with these things. A less apathetic person wouldn’t notice some of these things. I improved from games because I have been of the mind that they can, a more stubborn mind would struggle and possibly learn absolutely nothing. An experience consisting of associating with negativity doesn’t do anything to me, it might be the last push a more miserable and hateful person needed to push them over the edge but that isn’t something exclusive to games. To ever appropriately praise and condemn games you must understand them, yelling hatred and anger without evidence is the mark of a playground brat without any platform to stand on, I will be happy to debate about the benefits and harms of anything especially gaming, all I ask is that you be willing to listen and learn.
So what about any of you then. What have you gotten from playing games that has benefited you in any way? Do you think the hatred on games will pass or that these things will never fade from peoples minds? Thanks for the read, I know my posts have been getting longer but it isn’t easy to stop an adrenaline rush when you really get into telling your story.