Videogames have been condemned by both parents, educators and professionals. They all claim that videogames do nothing but make gamers aggressive, anti-social and less literate than other members of society are. However, scientists have looked into this matter in order to find out whether it all really is so.
Several deep researches proved that videogames could truly be an asset to the educational establishments, physical health professionals and career trainings. They were reported to have positive potential especially in cases when games are aiming to teach a gamer certain social, educational or physical skill. In this paper we will try to have a closer look into the benefits videogames, when properly used, can bring.
First of all, let us start with the educational field. As researchers have shown, the last two or three generations have spent much more time playing videogames. Psychologists have diagnosed numerous patients with gaming addiction, and an alleged increased level of aggressiveness as compared to those who did not play games.
However, researches that were made back in 1980s were mostly concentrated on the negative effect videogames could bring, as the specialists were afraid that an unseen before effect of sitting in front of the computer could bring no positive influence to the social development of people of different age.
Meanwhile, recent survey conducted by Mark Griffiths showed that videogames when used properly could help children in several ways (Griffiths, 2002). In his work The educational benefits of videogames published in Education and Health journal, he states that certain skills can be strengthened or even reinforced by videogames. Here he does not mean just any kind of videogames but rather those specifically designed for educational purposes.
Griffiths work provides information on the research conducted within the last 20 years the main point of which was using videogames in the classroom as a part of curriculum (Griffiths, 2002, p 47). Here is what he concludes:
Videogames are highly beneficial for an educator, as they do not depend on age or gender as well as ethnicity of a person using it.
Since videogames vary greatly, they can be used as a number of measurements to assess students performance through providing variety of tasks.
Process of playing a videogame can help a psychologist evaluate a person, meaning that while playing a person shows his/her self-esteem, ability to set goals and make a way to achieve it, etc.
Videogames is an essential tool when it comes to teaching children how to give proper feedback, how to cooperate, and what it means to be a team player, etc.
Moreover, videogames should be used as one of the teaching techniques as they can keep children interested. For instance, an average elementary school student can spend 20 minutes listening to a teacher; then he would get distracted for some time and will only get back to listening after some time whereas videogames can keep him occupied all the time without being distracted. So you can see examples of positive effect of playing videogame for children of younger age.
On the contrary, videogames can be of certain danger to children in the classroom under certain circumstances. Griffiths claims that as the gaming industry has significantly changed within the last years, producing more and more games that contain violence in it (Griffiths, 1998).
However, the society does not necessarily link violence in the games to the violent behavior towards people. Pew Survey showed that 53% of the surveyed said that they strongly disagree with the statement that people playing violent games are more inclined to acting violent in real life. Meanwhile, 32% of those who actually play videogames state that they can see a connection between violence in a game and real life. So people acknowledged with he matter split down the middle on effects playing violent games can bring.
Demarest, on the other hand, provides interesting information on influence of videogames on her own son that was diagnosed with certain autistic inclinations (Demarest, 2000). As she explains in her research, though her child, experienced difficulties in talking or socializing with people, playing educational videogames was of a great value to him. The first reason for this was that while playing he could improve his reading skills: he had to read commands like Go, Play, etc. which made him try harder and learn. Moreover, he showed significant improvement in his language basics. The game was helpful for his mother when trying to teach him giving and following commands as a part of a gaming experience as well as asking and answering certain question in quest-games (Demarest, 2000). Thus, we can see that playing educational videogames is beneficial for education children of different age, background and mental abilities.
The next field where videogames can be of great use is physical training. Since the Olympic games when people used more primitive devices compared to once we have today, people keep combining physical exercise and fun they can get from playing games.
With time flying, devices have developed significantly; however, people still use various gaming devices for playing and exercising at the same time. Technologies made videogames an exciting and interesting way of physical training; thus, researchers focused on examining their influence in this sphere.
According to Shane Murphy, first technologies combining both physical activity and gaming element were Dance Dance Revolution (1998) and more recent one known as the Wii (2006). The Wii, in particular, was a new word in gaming physical training, as it contained special accelerometers and a feature of spatial position detection (Murphy, 2009). These features made major dance moves with persons torso, hands and feet in the game form possible. Thus, people exercised while competing in a game.
Some people found this kind of physical activity very useful, especially considering that huge number of working people lead a sedentary lifestyle. For instance, statistics shows that at least one fourth of all Americans live an inactive lifestyle mostly staying home instead of going to a gym or for a morning jogging, says Medical Daily online resource. This is a group of people that should be targeted by videogames like Wii. As they find playing such games entertaining, they are more likely to join them than go to a gym where they will have the same level of physical activity but in a less fun way.
This fact also proves that certain videogames encourage socializing. Games on Wii are usually used on occasions when a number of people is gathered together and are looking for different ways to entertain themselves while communicating and competing.
Another good example Murphy provides in his work shows that active videogames helped children develop their motor skills while dancing and moving in different directions. For sure, this kind of games does not necessarily provide the same level of physical activity as regular games do. Nevertheless, with technologies developing, games are aiming to ensure gamers moving just as much as they would while playing sports (Murphy, 2009).
If talking about playing videogames with children, it not only helps him/her be more active, develop motor skills or exercise. It is also helpful when teaching a child what a sound competition means, how to cooperate and work in a team to achieve better results.
Thus, playing active videogames can be of a great value for gamers meaning that it can help them lead an active lifestyle, prevent problems coming out of sedentary lifestyle and teach them what a team player is like.
The other important field where playing videogames is used is professional training. Even though, such kinds of training are rarely associated with playing videogames, innovative approach encourages professionals use games to improve professional skills of workers as well as educate them in certain areas. Lets look into that.
James C. Rosser together with Paul J. Lynch and Laurie Cuddihy conducted a major study on influence of videogames experience on professional skills of medical workers. Their study was aiming to check the impact playing videogames can have on professional skills. As a result of the study, Rosser stated that (Rosser, 2007):
Workers who previously played videogames made 37% fewer mistakes. They explained that playing videogames improves eye-hand coordination, which is crucial for surgeons. That is why having more practice of this skill while playing, they were able to make less mistakes.
Surgeons that either played videogames before for at least 3 hours a week were 24-27% faster than other surgeons were. Rosser and his fellow researchers claim that videogames experience proved to be of more use to them than years of training (Rosser, 2007).
Therefore, we can certainly conclude that playing videogames can be used in various areas like education, physical exercise or physical training. This is not the end of the list. Researchers proved the good influence videogames can have on development of certain skills as we as reinforcement of others.
However, the effect depends on the kind of a game a gamer chooses to play; in the view of this researchers strongly recommend choose games of certain educational value with the minimum of or without violence in it in order to prevent any aggression possible.
Demarest K. (2000). Video games What are they good for? Located at: http://www/lessontutor.com/kd3.html
Griffiths M. (2002). The educational benefits of videogames. Education and health Vol. 20 No. 3 pp 47-51
Griffiths M. (1998). Video games and aggression: A review of literature. Aggression and Violent behavior, 4, 203-212.
Murphy S. (2009). Video Games, Competition and exercise: A new Opportunity for sport psychologists? Western Connecticut State University: The Sport Psychologist. No 23 pp 487-503.
Rosser J.C., Jr. MD; Lynch P.J., MD; Cuddihy L., MD (2007). The impact of video games on training surgeons in the 21st century. ARCH SURG/VOL 142.
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