GamesBeat Why video games are NOT a waste of time March 11, 2014 2:58 PM James Wolman This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.Our parents are misinformed. Communicating information in unconventional ways inspires and builds skills. Playing, writing about and thinking about video games extends them into new dimensions, stimulating critical and creative thinking. I believe I have learnt more hurtling through space, exploring dungeons and travelling through history than I would have sat in many classrooms. A History Lesson They say a good book can bring history to life. Assassin’s Creed’s own storyline is interwoven throughout the fabric of real history. If you feel confident unpicking the Assassin conspiracy from reality then you can really take advantage of its rich world history snippets. Architecture, battles, politics and notable figures. It’s more than I ever learned at school. With the intention to immerse players in the culture and history of that time period AC’s reading material is a detailed and multi-dimensional textbook for an unsuspecting audience. Navigation Skills I knew the San Andreas map as well as the moles on my face, from my safehouse to the Leaf Links golf course along to Diaz’s mansion on Starfish Island and back. The expanded GTA V map is a little more difficult but I have still learnt to navigate my way around fairly well using a compass and map. Many people are terrible at reading maps. I guarantee you those people have never played a sandbox game for a significant amount of time. And this is coming from a guy with the world’s worst sense of direction and understanding of geography. This guy who thought Barbados was the capital of Spain. I’d like to say playing video games has helped, but there’s no hope for me. However, I’m an exception to the rule and my point still stands. Why? Because it’s my blog and I can write whatever unfounded statement I like. Dexterity Of all the skills to be learnt through playing video games, dexterity tips the scales. Surgeons’ tools are their hands. Dexterity and refined motor skills makes them faster and less likely to make mistakes. Furthermore, video games have also been show to improve cognitive and perceptual skills which are also integral to performing precise and fiddly tasks. Additionally, consider the length that surgeons need to maintain their concentration. Now think how long you stayed up fighting off drowsiness and fatigue to complete just one more Skyrim side quest. R&R It’s important to unwind. It gives our brains and bodies a chance to recover and assimilate from the day. Travelling from work, packed against the walls of the tube I need to release tension. Whether it’s cumulative frustration from the boring daily grind or ventilation after a stressful day, shooting aliens in the face or flowing along a grassy expanse to a backdrop of relaxing chimes suffice just the same. Fun and Socializing Go outside and make friends. Well…you know what mum? I’m playing with them. Right now. Haha, I killed my best friend. Social gaming is well in flight and is a powerful tool for connecting people, opening easy communication to anybody in the world. Most entertainingly, mouthy children from up north who are too angry to realise they’re taking things a tad too seriously. It’s not prejudice; I’m from up north. Maybe. Ethics Nordahl Grieg Upper Secondary School in Bergen, Norway is a magical place. They get to play video games in Ethics class, specifically, Telltale’s The Walking Dead. The teacher has his students participate in polls which are based on events in the game, asking what they think is the “right” thing to do. The Walking Dead serves as a great point for discussions about ethics. It’s better than media used when I was in school like watching The Simpsons in German with English subtitles. Education! Leadership If you’re like me and have tried applying to grad schemes in the *deep breath* corporate world, you will have undoubtedly noticed a company’s need for a “strategic thinker with stronger leadership qualities”. Or something generic like that. What better place to develop these skills than World of Warcraft? There are many events which are actually very leadership driven and it’s plain to see how valuable skills such as managing people, effective planning and a clear idea of roles and responsibilities would have been an asset. But playing these scenarios again and again builds these skills as players learn to influence and persuade their team, winning their trust as their success rates increase. You learn as you fail and get better the next time. Although, probably not a wise idea to that to the CV.