Growing up, I was never what most people considered a “typical” girl and even now I don’t like to do what everyone else or at least what every other girl is into or doing at the time. So, when my brother and his friends began playing Minecraft a few years ago, it immediately drew my attention. A game where I can build anything I want, interact with people who are interested in the same things as me, and who don’t care about what gender I am or any other characteristics that usually end up getting me excluded. Sounds like a dream come true! And it was and (yes, I’ll admit it) still is. Can you believe it? A video game that might actually be “useful” and positive and not intended to be educational.
So, why do parents, teachers, and other adults always make video games the “bad guy”? Continue reading to find out why I and many others think this occurs and how they might even be potentially helpful later in life.
Pros to Playing Video Games:
- You Learn to Type (Fast): Most massively-multiplayer online games (MMO) including Minecraft servers, have some form of chat or way of communicating between players. For me, I learned how to type quickly in elementary school on the Evony alliance chat since it a game that relies heavily on strategizing and communicating with the other members of your alliance. Not only is this helpful in everyday life, it’s especially helpful when you need to finish writing a paper so you can submit it by 11:59:59 pm and you have 10 minutes to type out the last 1000 words.
- You Learn How to Appropriately Communicate: For the most part, in many online games where players from various countries, ages, and backgrounds are allowed to communicate you will meet people who have differing opinions or that you don’t necessarily get along with. As a result, you will have to learn how to accept their views and if necessary ignore them rather than getting into a fight. This skill is not only crucial for your online life but also for real life; it teaches people and kids how to deal with others of all ages and opinions.
- Teamwork: In some large, server-based games, teams are automatically generated by the server, thus grouping random players together. This team must now work together, despite the fact that they may not like each other, know each other, or possess the same ability and skills. It is easy to see how learning to communicate and work with a team can be significantly beneficial in real life.
- Stress Relief: Nearly every person has at least once in their life experienced stress and anxiety. For most people, when they play any video game, it’s a chance to work toward an alternate goal and simply forget about whatever it is that is causing the stress. It is also a chance to communicate with others who understand what you’re going through and can possible offer good advice.
- Strengthened Cognitive Skills: According to the American Psychology Association (read the article here), playing video games might also improve spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception. In addition, these skills that are often taught in academic courses were found to be equally enhanced by playing first-person shooter video games and these academic courses.
- Improved Fine Motor Function: In multiple studies and recently published research papers (including this article), playing video games may not only improve your attention to detail and vision but also your fine motor skills needed for making precise movements. In the article, it was discovered that high school and college student who played video games were slightly more skilled and accurate when performing simulated robotic surgeries alongside prospective surgical students. See the video below from article and the University of Texas Medical Branch:
Cons to Playing Video Games:
- Excessive Playing of Video Games: One of the leading causes of the bad reputation that video games tend to receive is due to their addicting nature. Often times, people will tend to spend more time playing them instead of participating in activities that are academic or beneficial for your health. Furthermore, playing video games has been shown to delay necessary reading and literary skills in young children (read article here) and it can also lead to obesity and other related health problems in people of all ages.
- Violence: Although the study of how violent video games might contribute to real life crime is controversial and frequently debated. One study in 2009 found that people who had just seen a violent film or played a violent video game had slightly slower reactions times to someone in distress than those who preferred non-violent games or had just exited a non-violent movie. (read more about the study here)
In conclusion, while playing video games can be a great way to find a community that shares similar interests and have a great deal of fun, it is also important to remember that they should be played in moderation and that it’s also good to take a break now and then and spend some time outdoors or doing another hobby that you love. Like digging holes in sand dunes…