Saturday, 27 July 2013

Computer Gaming IS Good For You

Well of course it’s you, I knew you’d be back for some extended loving.

Now I’ve had a bit of a mini break away while I deal with people that have no concept of how to use their brains, I’m back and on the subject of using brains…

I stumbled across THIS article on (I don’t really read Forbes, it was linked from the incredible website). Basically the outline of it all is that playing computer games is not only good for you, it’s fucking brilliant!

After reading the article, and re-reading it, it correlates with a lot of things that I’ve thought of regarding computer games.

Article Points:
  • They teach you how to think critically, how to solve problems.
  • They teach you collaboration skills.
  • They teach you how to fail.
  • They make you happy.

So let’s just delve a little deeper into those 4 points, and then ladies and gentlemen, if you get shit from your significant other or a parent who’s moaning at you for being on the Xbox instead of enjoying the weather outside or being in your room all day you will have some sexy ammunition for them.

They Teach You How To Think Critically, How To Solve Problems.

The first point raised in the article is quite an obvious one when you think about it. Think about when either you were a child playing computer games or when your current little bastard is sat trying to get further on his or her chosen game.

There is usually a moment in every game that you approach it like the rest of the game…you think you’re getting somewhere…you’re certain you’ve done something right, that large platform just moved…oh no, wait…now you’re dead.

Something along those lines happen to you? Mayhaps, or maybe you’ve been playing a game like Football Manager, or Call of Duty, or Civilization? All of these games present their own challenges, their own ways of getting through problems, and their own ways of making you think differently. Solving problems in games, is about trial and error, about seeing where YOU the gamer is flawed, and how you can change and adapt in order to progress. These are key life skills, and can give you key advantages over others in being able to “think outside the box”.

They Teach You Collaboration Skills

That’s right. You’ve heard of Multiplayer right? Well generally (unless it’s like an Unreal / Quake Style all in Death Match) you are playing Multiplayer as a part of a team. Be it 2 massive teams fighting each other which generally limits the amount of actual teamwork and results a lot of lone-wolfery from what I’ve seen, or small teams – much like in Mass Effect 3 MP.

Now I prattle on about Mass Effect a lot on this blog – you may have seen – so it should come as no surprise that the game I’m going to use as a perfect example of teamwork and collaboration is Left 4 Dead.

In L4D you are effectively punished by the AI Director for wandering off and trying to be Rambo of the Dead. If you wander off, you get punished. If you work together, the AI Director in game essentially gives you more breaks. Say you get a massive horde of zombies, you deal with them but sustain enough damage to warrant using a med-pack or painkillers, once dealing with the horde as a team, generally you get a bit of breathing space to patch up, reload and progress before the next batch of enemies.

However, if you were to deal with a horde of zombies as say 4 individuals, not working together, covering each other – separated from each other, then the game might still provide you with a breather, but not as long and certainly nowhere near guaranteed.

This forces the players to work as a team to progress and succeed. This goes well for the Verses mode on the game, in which 2 teams of 4 face off, 4 suvivors vs 4 Special Infected. The infected will work a lot more like a team than the survivors, talking more, planning more and generally being more tactically aggressive.

They Teach You How To Fail

The example given of Forbes is one that is cropping up not just in the USA but in the UK as well. A culture among schools that there are no winners and losers at this can breed negative emotions and undue rivalries or whatever the fucking weak sauce case may be. The example being that a ribbon is given to everyone who participates in a race – shit of the bull. This if anything suppresses the competitive nature in humans, as if there is no reward for outperforming everyone else, what the fuck is the point of trying?

Essentially, this is one where Computer Games kick the royal arseholes of schools for younger kids these days. In Computer Games, there are definite winners and losers. Say you are playing Mario Kart – not everyone can win, obviously, there are winners and losers. You get chances to win, say in a Grand Prix where you get 4 or 5 races, you might win a couple of them but lose a couple – it’ll be seeing who earned the most points that is the winner.

In a nutshell though, computer games teach you to fail, but not only that, they teach you that if you want to succeed and you fail along the way, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

They Make You Happy

Happiness. If computer games didn’t make people happy, would they be the multi billion £/$ businesses that they are today? Would Computer games sales have outstripped Movie and Music Sales for the past few years?

Right, OK, it might be a bit of an obvious one but it has wider connotations. Basically, the happier you are, the harder you work. The happier you are, the better quality your work. The happier you are, the happier others around you will be. It’s true, happiness breeds happiness.

Ladies, gentlemen…have you ever been brought down into a bad mood because your other half wasn’t happy? Have you ever been put in a better mood because your other half was generally happy?

This works especially well for parents as well here. As a parent myself, I am much more willing and able to be the fun, stupid Dad my kids like more when I know I’ve either had a good bit of playtime myself or I know that later on, I’m gonna enjoy myself playing on the PC.

That’s a bit of a poor point however, you could get happiness from reading books, or stargazing, or drawing – it would produce those same feelings and feelings in those around you as computer gaming. I’m going to quote directly from the Forbes site however for this point, as it puts it better than I.

“Dr. McGonigal says, “games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves.” Another name for ‘hard work we choose for ourselves’ is mastery.  When we work toward mastery, it stretches us – we go past our limitations, learn how to do new things….we get smarter.”

So there you go. If you want to spend a couple of hours playing a game, you fucking do it. If anyone gives you shit for it, you put them straight. You tell them that by playing games, you’re getting smarter, you’re getting ready for the challenges, ups and downs of life, you’re learning how to communicate effectively and work well as a part of a team and it makes you happy.

Got it?

I’ll see you later then.

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