If you’ve ever met a video game basher, you know how intense they can be. Watch them get started, and their arguments become more passionate by the second, almost religious in their opposition to the gaming world. Video games promote violence, they say. They lead to an inactive lifestyle. They keep kids’ noses out of books and off the playgrounds, where they should be. After all, what good is it to sit in front of a TV for hours shooting at imaginary enemies?
Studies show video games can actually be quite good — good for motor skills; good for real-life problem solving and decision making; good for education; even good for educated professionals to help them improve in their fields. Here’s how:
Video Games in Primary and Secondary Education
The next time your middle-schooler argues that playing xBox is going to help him with his language arts skills, maybe you should put some stock in the theory. A few researchers did, and the results were surprising. According to a study out of Nottingham Trent University, video games can help kids’ math, language, and spatial-reasoning skills. Even purely entertainment-oriented games help train kids to think more clearly, make decisions in a logical sequence, and communicate with others.
Multiplayer games like World of Warcraft spawn leadership and communication skills. Story-based games get kids into complicated plots and give them an experiential understanding of literary analysis, though not an academic one. No one is arguing that video games can ever replace other, more traditional types of education, but games are valuable tools to supplement books, lectures, and classrooms.
Video Games in the Professional World
You’re about to go in for laparascopic surgery, and one of the nurses makes a quip about the doc’s long weekend playing Wii tennis. Are you reassured by the knowledge that your specialist spends his free time playing video games? Shouldn’t he be busy perusing research journals and reading up on the latest procedures?
A study published on Plos One followed a group of surgeons who were told to play the Nintendo Wii regularly for four weeks. At the beginning and end of the study, they were tested on a laparoscopic simulator. The surgeons who played video games regularly scored higher on the simulator test. Researchers concluded that more organizations might start using video games and other simulators as part of a professional training program.
Video Games in Adult Education
Can you really download BF4 or WoW to help you out with your university homework? Some experts say it could. Doctors say that playing video games can help you think smarter, if you actually keep bending your brain by trying new games and actually improving at the ones you do play. According to Dr. Ezra Kornel at WebMd.com, gamers who challenge themselves while playing do get brain-boosting benefits, like increased concentration, as a result of new neural pathways.
Rachel Hepworth A Florida native, Rachel married her high school sweetheart and is a stay-at-home mom to their two kids, a girl and a boy. She blogs about parenting and family issues from their New England home.