Since the 1990’s, video games have been a subject of controversy to the public eye.
In times of violence, Government officials, News reporters, and parents alike have all pointed the finger at video games and their developers for — in one way or another — poisoning the minds of their children and teenagers alike. As a result, video games have become an easy scapegoat for numerous violent tendencies antisocial behaviors.
Games like Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, Doom and others, have taken the blame for various heinous crimes. Even Mass Effect, a story driven sci-fi shooter has received a vast amount of controversy under the accusation that players would be able to have (graphic) sexual intercourse with any character in the game. Certain government officials have even gone as far as filing lawsuits against the developing companies in an attempt to outlaw video games in general. Not only that, but they have also been under scrutiny for supposedly causing a gaming “addiction”, leading to a substantial amount of social withdrawl.
Whether or not you agree with the many accusations thrown towards video games, one can not ignore the lack of consideration towards any of their positive effects. Yes, it seems as though the media finds it a bit too easy to point fingers at something that they don’t fully understand. So let’s set all that aside for a minute and take a look at some of the positive effects of video games.
For starters, let’s look at the ways video games have been a help to people and their social development. Studies show that video games can improve social development with Autistic children. Playing video games can teach them to how respond to visual and verbal queues, greatly improving social responses.
What about kids without autism? The assumption is that kids who play video games often are subject to social withdrawal and may develop an addiction. Studies prove the opposite, that when introduced to games at a young age, in a group, video games can be a great source of social interaction.
Gaming at a young age can help develop critical thinking skills. In other words, kids who pay attention to a string of events in a video game are very likely to apply this to their real lives later on.
At an older age, there are of course kids who are naturally introverted and shy in nature. Playing games in groups or online has proven to be a great way to connect with others in similar situations and with similar interests. In fact, most teenagers in this day and age are not actually playing alone, but regularly bring their favorite titles online (Xbox Live, Playstation Network, or Steam) and in large interactive groups.
Now how about a scientific approach? Video games are proven to improve hand eye coordination (much like the way sports do), greatly benefiting many various jobs and professions. First person shooters especially account to this. Paying attention to enemies in cover, keeping your eye on the target, etc, can translate into many real life (beneficial) situations. These of this nature can also lead to an overall increase in concentration. Players who enjoy action games in general have been shown to be much more aware of their surroundings and are able to pay far more attention to the task at hand, being quite immune to distractions.
Then there are those suffering from strokes. Video games have been proven to help rehabilitate stroke victims and assist in them in gaining back their motor skills.
Lastly, video games have been known as a healthy outlet of aggression, or as an overall stress relief, despite their reputation stating otherwise. Much like books or movies, video games allow a sort of “escape”. Playing games has been a help to many in stressful and traumatic situations.
Critics have to keep in mind that those who scapegoat video games as a cause of aggression and antisocial behaviours, most likely have had additional concerns that needed to be taken into account.
The gaming universe can certainly account for hours of stress relief, escape from personal issues, and countless years of fun times. So while the media chooses to force a condemning image upon video games, one must remember to take into account, the other end of the spectrum, which in fact has many helpful benefits to those willing to open their mind to the greater picture.