Growing Up Through Video Games
When I was little, video games were becoming more and more popular in society. Of course, my parents and many other adults would tell us about how much of a waste of time they were or how they were going to turn our brains into mush. I never listened to them because I felt passionate about video games and I couldn’t just give them up. Balancing school work and playing video games never gave me a hard time. Studying would have been a good way to spend my time but I wasn’t much interested in school or what work we had to do. Starting high school, I knew I wanted to find something other than video games to focus on during my free time and what better to do than sports.
Being physically active was something that I wanted to start trying because before that I was just a couch potato. Blaming video games for my laziness would be silly because that was all I knew and all I was interested in. I really wanted to play a sport but I didn’t know which one to play. My final decision of football was finalized on me wanting to learn the game because I knew it was so popular. Football was very competitive and it was a long and hard journey for me because I knew if I wanted to become great, I would need to be assertive. The beginning two years for me consisted of me getting stronger and learning the game.
Something new was a great change for me but I never could drop video games completely. I believed they helped me escape into my own worlds and sparked my imagination. Not only that, they helped me learn valuable lessons that would help me throughout my football career and life and showed me how to compete. Game designers could easily relate that to staring a new video game. A consistent strategy I would use to learn how to play a video game would be to test out all the buttons to understand the controls to learn as I go before advancing into the game. This is also what I used during football because I would test out certain exercises that would show me limitations and help me narrow down on which position I would play.
Outside linebacker became my favorite position and the grind was hard but rewarding. Whenever I was stuck on a level or mission, on a video game, I’d think it over and keep trying till I beat it. This resiliency helped transition me into the challenges I faced during football. I started small and skinny but I pushed through till I became bigger, faster, and stronger. For the OLB position, I needed to be quick with reaction time or I would be blown off the ball by a lineman. Playing shooters and fast-paced video games helped me react quickly without having to think. Being able to shoot out of my stance as soon as the ball was snapped was important to every play. Multiplayer games helped me with better team communication and gave me the confidence to create better chemistry with my team. A team with great chemistry is a team not to be reckoned with.
Single player games show players different lives and emotions that are reflected in the real world. Multiplayer games and cooperative games promote teamwork and the importance of trusting in your teammates. These skills needed and gained for playing video games originated and real games like dominoes or card games. According to Dr. Randy Kulman, “Researchers in Italy, led by Sandro Franceschini, found that 12 hours of playing action video games (selected action-based mini games from Rayman Raving Rabbids ) resulted in more improvement in reading fluency than 1 year of traditional reading training.” Children can learn basic skills way faster through video games rather than traditional methods. The big difference that not many people acknowledge or see in videos games and board games is that video games are a lot more expansive in critical thinking. Board games are super limited to what the player can do and what decisions you make and video games can be the same. Although, video games add more of a pressure to think about what’s to do next because video games can range from the most linear storylines to the most open world, “the player decides” games.
Choosing from the first person games to the third person games all depends on preference. Those aren’t the only two types of games but they have proved to be the most popular. Choosing either third or first person, changes making decisions for the character either for the story or to gain rewards. Rewards come in experience points, in-game currency, or even more content to play. The entertainment value of gaining a reward is a big part of why video games are popular but what’s not always acknowledged is what the player can learn from it all.
The common mindset adults preach to kids and people becoming more responsible is to work hard for what they want. The decisions one makes in life can not only affect them but the people around them. Nobody’s perfect, as much of a cliche that is, but what helps us is learning from our mistakes and failures to become better or stronger as a person. Video games have a mutual connection to these lessons by making a player grind for what they want. Boiling video games down to the simplest of concepts, the objective is to get better at the said game as well as progress further.
Goals and checkpoints in the games work as milestones for the player to show them where they are at and how far they are to the end. Some games, such as some multiplayer games, don’t have a definite end because the developers want gamers to keep on playing. The obvious reason for this is because it brings them more money but that doesn’t mean consumers can’t take anything out from it. A popular single player/multiplayer game, Destiny, gives the player a story but also allows them to continue playing in multiplayer raids and other missions. This gives players the want for better loot and to play more.
Since Destiny is a single or multiplayer game, it encourages people to play with others to play for better chances of loot drops and to make the mission easier. Destiny greatly promotes the importance of teamwork. Explained in the Chicago Weekend, “Team work. The game contains threeplayer strikes and six-player raids, requiring communication and teamwork.” Simple lessons like teamwork can help a kid learn to work with people. As long as there is something to play for, there will be something to gain. People don’t just play video games to learn about life but they are great representations of outlets that teach kids and any other gamers important things in life.
Growing up as a frequent gamer, I have heard all the excuses for me to stop playing. Whether it was about how video games will fry my brain to how video games will hurt my eyes, but no matter what I kept playing. At the time, I never thought about the big picture and how video games affected me physically, mentally, and emotionally. All my friends played video games, but we had a healthy dose of outdoor play as well. My diet wasn’t great, but I was a kid. Schoolwork wasn’t a big priority when I was little so as long as I had decent grades (C’s and B’s) I didn’t think too much about video games affecting my school work. What I never realized until I was older was the way video games shaped me and what they taught me about life. As we mature growing up, we start to see how our upbringings affected who we are today. Playing video games frequently not only causes an increase in better decision making but it allows the player to learn different values from each game. Not all games have this effect, but most storytelling or multiplayer games do.
After completing a day of hard grinding on Ubisoft’s first-person shooter game, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, I know I have honed my skills in the game and also, it’s a reflection of the real world. Whether on the attacking or defending side, the player has to be mindful of every movement they make and what strategy they decide. Working with teammates is the key to survival and victory. One false move and the team could be taken care of by the enemy team or the clock could run down until there’s no more time left. I was able to learn more on competitiveness, teamwork, attention to detail, and deciding what should be the next move under pressure. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is one of the thousands of game titles that keeps people sharp, on their toes, and ready for the unexpected. I was able to translate the skills learned from video games to my football career in high school. Daphne Bavelier and her colleagues at the University of Rochester, New York, have been able to test and show results of how action video games improve decision making compared to non-players. “The researchers asked 11 video-game players and 12 non-players to determine the overall direction of a group of randomly moving dots. In another experiment, the volunteers had to identify with which ear they heard a tone concealed in white noise. In both cases, the players gave accurate answers faster than the non-players. According to the authors, this enhanced ‘probabilistic inference’ explains why video games, unlike other activities that train for specific tasks, can improve performance in tasks not specifically related to gameplay.” This explains how video games can improve our skills without us specifically focusing on a certain skill to work on. The evidence also shines the light towards gamers having better reaction times and quicker perceptions.
Developers create video games from their own creative image and take inspiration from others. Video games were made for entertainment and something to do in the free time so it comes as a surprise that we can learn from them and apply what we learned to real life. Whether it’s a multiplayer shooter or an action-adventure telling a story, lessons can be learned from those experiences in the game. It simulates living a different life in another world and changes perspectives from the character and player in the game. Living through another person’s experiences allows the player to learn from their mistakes and define what should be the right and wrong thing to do in life through interactions. Some could say that playing video games can allow us to learn from our failures without true real-world consequences. I agree with that because anybody can translate what they’ve learned from the virtual experiences and apply this knowledge into the real world. Killing bad guys and saving the world can’t really help someone learn or get smarter but it is the skills they use to actually complete the game itself that does.
Communication is a skill that is used all the time in the real world and in multiplayer games. Headsets or microphones aren’t actually required but they are very helpful for talking to teammates. Also, talking to teammates isn’t always necessary in the game to communicate. Nowadays games are implementing default callouts that the player can activate via button inputs or pinging systems that allow the player to mark a certain area of interest. These are substitutions for talking but nothing beats voice communication when a gamer is focused on the objective. Talking and working with teammates strengthens and reflects communication in the real world whether it is working with classmates, teachers or coworkers at a job.
Completing levels or grinding to level up isn’t always as easy as it seems in games. It can get frustrating and being able to be adaptive to situations will help greatly. If the team captured the flag and the player was eliminated while holding the flag, the player has to be able to change the strategy and adapt to win. The real world throws various challenges around in different ways and it is necessary to have an adaptive attitude to overcome them. Video games allow us to test situations out to understand the outcomes so we can reflect on them and learn for the real world. Green & Bavelier explained perfectly how positive video game learning doesn’t just happen in a snap. “Game playing may not convey an immediate advantage on new tasks (increased performance from the very first trial), but rather the true effect of action video game playing may be to enhance the ability to learn new tasks.” Learning new skills from video games is definitely different from getting better at the skills someone already has. Although, being able to learn something new when playing is even greater. From Xbox to PlayStation to PC, all these consoles hold the capacity to enhance someone’s capability in this world without them even noticing. All it takes is one try at video games and anyone could be branched off into another universe. No matter how fictional the game is there could always be something gained from playing.
Expectations are a bunch of risky beliefs. Lending trust into something in which the result is unknown isn’t the smartest and could lead to unexpected failure. If I were to expect that everyone would believe video games improved life skills and decision making, I’d be a fool. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as the cliché saying states, but facts clear up opinions. Some could say video games deteriorate one’s decision making by causing impulsive reactions that cause the gamer to act rather than think before. People could also say that they separate the player from reality, resulting in the inability to remember life skills or to utilize them correctly by causing addiction and nonstop play. However, these are both wrong inclinations about video games and though someone can find some truths to these arguments, they are incorrect. The process is all affected by the player’s actions and what they choose to improve on from gaming. When playing video games, we use a multitude of skills and thoughts while we are moving through the storyline or trying to win the round. Every game has something to take from it, but the prospect of addiction comes in when these games are played too much, and the player is no longer capable of dissociating themselves from the games and real life.
This is where the person’s choices come in as to how they wish to use their time to benefit from these games. Many of the games that are labeled as addictive also have good things that allow people to take aspects of the game and implement things that they took from them into their daily lives. This doesn’t include any of the violent matters that video games can be known for, this consists of the concept of learning life lessons that wouldn’t have been learned easily in life. In strategy games, it is necessary to be able to think under mass amounts of pressure and after a while of learning how to do that in a video game, one’s brain soon implements that into its abilities, allowing for that person to then be able to make decisions under pressure normally, without having had to go through that lesson in their life. Gabbiadini & Greitemeyer explain how the decisions made in the video game will help us with decisions in real life by learning harmless consequences. “Playing strategy video games encourages setting clearly defined goals, thinking ahead and choosing strategic methods to achieve specific outcomes. Players have to evaluate and compare results with their goals, and evaluate their actual and future actions.” Think about how someone may improve on a certain skill. They have to keep working on it until they get better at it, right? Correct, but people also need to dissociate themselves from training on that skill for their brain to subconsciously mull over the subject for improvement. Problems will always arise with not being able to use skills learned from a video game if we never stop playing. Having the correct mindset that it’s only a game will help disconnect from it but also reflect on how we can improve on it.
Effective decision making is important in the world because it’s what helps land that perfect job or the future could turn out. When playing a strategy video game, deciding what the next move is can cost the game. Saying that video games cause impulsive decisions is incorrect. At the start of a game, one might be impulsive because they are learning the ropes but after they start to catch on to the game’s mechanics, they start to think on when or where they should take that knowledge to next in the game. In games that force the player to decide what their choice of action is next, players usually learn to think before they act so they don’t mess up their game. Multiplayer games are a big example of games that force the player to decide wisely on what their next action is. Playing with a team makes the players think about what is best for their team and what will lead them to a win.
It is common knowledge that hasty decisions making doesn’t always create efficient outcomes. This can include how people spend money, or the increased impulsiveness or aggression in social environments due to not thinking through how to deal with certain issues. This is how some people think video games will affect people, but the truth is the increase in decision-making time doesn’t actually affect the significance of the decisions made. We have seen that despite the lessened amount of time that has been seen in the gamer’s decision making they are still using good judgment to make adequate choices. Mohan et al. conducted a research to see the difference in results given by educational video games versus traditional educational apps to conclude whether or not the tested physicians would have improved decision making in a trauma triage setting. “In this randomized clinical trial, physicians exposed to a video game intervention were more likely to follow clinical practice guidelines in the triage of simulated trauma patients than physicians exposed to a traditional educational program” They are learning faster and deciding quicker without negative repercussions. The physicians showed positive results to the video games adding an easier way for them to improve on their triage decision making. Decision making in a clinical setting is of obvious importance, but we need it for most of our daily interactions.
Playing games for too long is obviously unhealthy. In order for the brain to improve or get something out of playing video games, it needs to step out of it. It is up to the player to decide where or when to stop in their game and that should be their disconnect to reality. The only way the player can reflect on the game they play and take something important from them is to stop playing. Playing all the time will give them no improvement because all they will become is better at the game. Video game addiction is a real thing and it does messes up schedules, relationships or even jobs but that addiction isn’t unlike an addiction to drugs. Drug abuse and video game abuse is the cause of addictions to these outlets but with the correct knowledge and handling, addiction will not be an issue. It’s always important to plan out the day and if there is free time to play video games, set a certain amount of time to play, so getting carried away isn’t a problem. After the amount of time is up, check to see if it would be alright for the schedule or healthy to continue playing before jumping in.
A date with destiny: Video games teach kids life lessons. (2017, ). Chicago Weekend.https://bit.ly/2XNvQTH
Gabbiadini, A., & Greitemeyer, T. (2017). Uncovering the association between strategy video games and self-regulation: A correlational study. Personality and Individual Differences, 104, 129-136. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.07.041 https://bit.ly/2CMnkvj
Gaming the brain. (research about action video games’ effect on a person’s decision making ability)(brief article). (2010). Nature, 467(7313), 254. https://bit.ly/2HH11eO
Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2012). Learning, attentional control, and action video games.Current Biology, 22(6), R197-R206. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.012 https://bit.ly/2IROuFb
Kulman, R. (2014). Playing smarter in a digital world: A guide to choosing and using popular video games and apps to improve executive functioning in children and teens, based on the LearningWorks for kids model. Plantation, Florida: Specialty Press/A.D.D. Warehouse. https://bit.ly/2F4tCIp
Mohan, D., Farris, C., Fischhoff, B., Rosengart, M. R., Angus, D. C., Yealy, D. M., . . . Barnato, A. E. (2017). Efficacy of educational video game versus traditional educational apps at improving physician decision making in trauma triage: Randomized controlled trial. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 359, j5416. doi:10.1136/bmj.j5416 https://bit.ly/2uBudez