While some parents (and even non-parents) are completely set against video games, several studies have shown that playing video games is actually a beneficial activity. Not only do video games help the gamers to alleviate stress, but they can also improve certain skills. I’m not just talking about being able to strafe really quickly, either.
A team at the University of Toronto maintains that frequently engaging in the playing of action video games, such as “Assassin’s Creed” or “Halo” makes hand-eye coordination skills easier to attain, in addition to improving the already existing skill level. This means that things that involve this type of coordination will be learned faster if one frequently games.
The study was very thoroughly conducted, and well worth the lecture that might come from showing it to your parents. In the first experiment conducted, researchers had 18 regular gamers (those who played action games a minimum of 3x each week, for at least 2 hours each time), and 18 non-gamers. The volunteers were put in front of a computer and told to play a game using a mouse to track a small square on the screen in front of them. The small square moved around the screen in a complicated, repeat pattern.
Initially, neither of the two groups had a significant advantage over the other. However, after some time, the gamers improved at a much more rapid pace than the non-gamers. This illustrates the fact that gamers have an advantage in learning patterns that require hand-eye coordination/spatial reasoning. In the second experiment that was conducted, both groups played the game again, but the pattern was randomized. Both groups did roughly the same, but the gamers were able to pick up on the patterns better.
So, why is this useful? Good hand-eye coordination, also known as sensorimotor skills, is a salient part of technological advancement, specifically for surgeons who use robotic techniques. Furthermore, there is a way of making video games an educational experience, until parents feel that their children are emotionally mature enough for more action-oriented games. There are plenty of educational games available on the market today, and even some older games that are still valuable in their gameplay and educational skills.
Furthermore, many schools using video games as a teaching mechanism. Some notable examples include:
- A game-based school, known as Quest to Learn, opened in New York City in 2009. The school is for grades 6th through 12th, and blends the desire to play video games with education and the bolstering of creative skills.
- Some Universities are extremely gamer-friendly, especially Digipen Institute of Technology,which offers a 4-year degree in game design. Graduates of the program receive an average of two job offers upon graduation.