Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life
Video Games Invented by the Devil
I was reading an article earlier today about comparing the positive and negative effects of video games. The author talked about how we always hear the negative in the media, but rarely do we see the positive effects. While I believe the author meant well, I should clarify here for him and all avid gamers alike. People are drawn to negativity, and the instant video games are linked to something terrible, it’s finger pointing bandwagon that every body seems to hitch their horse on.
I would like to point out the fact that it’s NOT rare that we see the positive in video games. For years researchers and scientists have been pointing out it’s positive physical and cognitive effects. Gossip is contagious, and as long as people enjoy spreading propaganda, the negativity will always make the top headlines.
I do not debate the fact that there have been tragic instances where video games have been involved. The Virginia Tech shootings (which is still up in the air), a 9 year old boy stabbed over a Tony Hawk game, etc. But I would like to bring to the attention to parents, friends, adults alike. Video games are like movies, when the subject matter of the game is too much for a person, I believe it’s the parents responsibility to step in. Know what your kids are playing, asses their sense of maturity. Just because a child is 17, it does not mean he or she is mature enough for the game and it’s contents, and vice versa.
For tragic situations, like the Virginia Tech shootings, the shooter was an adult. Now as far as I’m aware nothing was proved to link the two, but lets pretend there is a link. The video game set him off. If it wasn’t a video game then it would have been a TV show or a movie, if not for that then the radio, if not for that then a play. Someone who is mentally disturbed isn’t suddenly set off just by video games alone, and someone of this caliber should have been watched more closely by his parents and teachers. It’s a deflective strategy to blame video games when someone’s lacking responsibility leads to unfortunate circumstances. Sadly this is an ignorant but effective tactic.
Those in science and research have dedicated many years of providing hard factual evidence. The least we can do is acknowledge these facts when forming opinions on this controversial subject.
Many research studies have shown the positive effects video games have on fine motor skills. A study was conducted in 2004 on the effects of video games with surgeons. The results showed an improvement on reaction time and a lower probability of mistakes. Another recent study conducted by Paul Schrater, University of Minnesota’s Assistant Professor of Psychology and Science, noted the improvement not on just the skills required to beat the game, but an improvement on many other skills as well. Schrater also noted, “violent video games actually work better to improve motor skills than nonviolent games, like Tetris.” He followed up by comparing the relationship of challenging games being more fun, thus making learning easier.
At University of Sunderland, Chris Whitehead, a final year Psych major conducted a study on the skill of teamwork in violent games. Whitehead stated “Team objective-based games require a lot of communication between players to allow them to complete objective, and playing such games can improve these skills and potentially help develop leadership styles.” He acknowledged a link between aggression and children in video games, especially with many violent games on the rise. Whitehead followed up by stating
“I am sure we will see a surge in controversy around the subject, but I would argue that the main cause of this link is due to parents ignoring ratings and allowing their children to play games not suitable for them. Games such as Halo, Call of Duty, and even Grand Theft Auto have the potential to become a powerful learning tool.”
One of the controversial realms to video games is it’s massive online multiplayer world. In this world you make friends not based on your weight, height, race, gender, or religion. You make friends based on your skill and personality. The more you practice, the better you become, and the better you become the more confident you are. Researchers at McGill University did a study on the impact of gaming lowering stress levels. The more confident the players became in the game, the more they lowered the production of a stress-related hormone called cortisol (up to 17% lowered).
The University of Central Florida did a study of incorporating video games into schools. Three titles were used by the DimensionM series. The study was done with 193 algebra and pre-algebra students and 10 math teachers. The results were astounding.
“Students in the experimental groups who played Tabula Digita video games over an 18-week period scored significantly higher (in some cases, twice as high) on district benchmark tests than students in the control group who did not play video games.”
This is just a few of the many studies on the positive effects of gaming that can be found. This information is readily available for those who wish to make informed decisions. For those concerned with children playing violent games, here’s a tip. Don’t let them. There are many non-violent games out there. If you don’t want your child playing adult themed games, then be the parent and don’t let them. Just like movies, there are many different types of video games meant for different purposes and age levels. Video games keep kids off of the street, promote teamwork and communication, improve confidence and the development of fine motor skills. If we took the time to properly utilize this technology, I think we would all find the results to be astoundingly beneficial.
Happy gaming fellow gamers.