If your idea of avid gamers involves a group of teenage boys sitting on the couch for days at a time, think again. Although there certainly are some downsides to staring at a screen for hours on end, video game enthusiasts actually are acquiring and honing important skills that will help them throughout their lives. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits video gamers reap.
The worlds created in video games are more realistic than ever. This means that spending time in a virtual location can help build skills related to spatial awareness, navigation, strategizing and memory. It is so effective, in fact, that the government uses video games to train many of its personnel. Driving games, platform games and first-person shooting games are particularly effective at teaching hand-eye coordination and spatial relations.
Improving cognitive flexibility is important in all aspects of life. People must be able to anticipate possible outcomes and strategize accordingly. Just about every video game requires advance planning and an innovative approach in order to reach the next level. Plus, as a player “dies” in a game as a result of a misstep, the player learns to avoid the same fate in the future by making different choices.
Video gaming can take over a lot of one’s disposable time, but if the alternative is participating in detrimental behaviors such as overeating or smoking, the distraction can be beneficial. Gaming can take players’ minds off of unhealthy mental activities as well, such as dwelling on anger or building anxiety. Plus, players who do not use self-control during their games are unlikely to make it very far into the challenge. One must resist the urge to run headlong into danger and choose careful strategies instead.
Many video games are based on teamwork, especially those designed for adults. In fact, many players aren’t even in the same room as their teammates. But despite that, they still find ways to work together and compromise on strategies that will have the best outcome. They do this regardless of their teammates’ economic status, race, age and other factors that might be barriers in the real world. Gamers can build legitimate relationships with other players that are just as legitimate as those that exist in real life.
Finally, video game enthusiasts often are drawn to the activity’s ability to help them relax and unwind after a long day. The distraction can help them keep their minds off a conflict at work or anxiousness about a meeting the next day. Gaming can even provide welcome relief from pain, as the rechanneling of the mind prevents focusing on discomfort.
These five important skills are ones adults use every day. People who are especially good at spatial awareness and problem solving might even be drawn to a career that requires strength in those skills, such as the GIST program found at USC Online. With the spatial acumen they learn through gaming, students may already have a head start toward success in fields such as engineering, mathematics and computer science.