Learning from Video Games
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 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.
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