The recent tragedy in the neighboring town of Newtown, Connecticut have not only caught the attention of a world’s worth of people, but have also spawned numerous debates on everything from gun control to the perennial argument that video games foster a nationwide culture of violence. Parents and caregivers already raw from the events that befell this sleepy corner of Connecticut are searching for answers; someone or something to blame as a root cause of such a senseless act; and once again gaming culture is feeling the heat.
However, while people are all too often prone to rallying against the content of our entertainment in times of tragedy and negativity, it becomes easy to lose sight of the beneficial nature of gaming in today’s modern technologically oriented age.
Many fields today utilize some form of robotics that are often operated remotely by a single or multiple person control system. Advances in robotics and communication, both visual and audible, have led to near quantum leaps in medical science, law enforcement, and military operations alike. As a people, we are now able to preform surgeries that were once high-risk or had a much longer recovery time than they do today thanks to laparoscopy. Research into this has shown that surgeons who play even as little as three hours a week preform 37% better than non-gamers and do so at a rate of 27% faster. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4685909/ns/technology_and_science-games/t/surgeons-may-err-less-playing-video-games/#.UNnUl28zOSp
Many law enforcement officers no longer have to rely simply on a human element in times of first-response, hostage negotiation, or potential bomb threats. Similarly, the men and women who serve our country’s military forces are now able to carry out once extremely dangerous missions with the use of unmanned aircraft that are fitted with anything as simple as a visual camera to more tactical operations like thermal location and imaging, crowd disbursement, or even heated fire-fights.
The more realistic games become, the more they are able to positively effect the brain in areas such as spatial recognition and planning, physics, reflexes and coordination. We also see an improvement in problem solving ability thanks to the puzzles seen in games from popular franchises like ‘Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Darksiders.’ Emily Anthes, a correspondent to the Boston Globe writes, ‘The very structure of video games makes them ideal tools for brain training.’ http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/10/12/how_video_games_are_good_for_the_brain/
We are also able to reinforce the concept of consequences when we consider open-world titles like ‘Skyrim,’ ‘Fable,’ and other massive role-playing games. One seemingly trivial decision could greatly effect the endgame of the entire title for the positive as well as the negative. Often, the benefits gained from making good choices in game far outweigh those from making any choices steering one’s character in a bad direction. This helps gamers develop and bolster their reasoning skills even further.
Video games, just like any other form of media, can carry some negative potential in their images and content. But they can also help us unlock our greater potentials as well. This important aspect of gaming should not be overlooked. ‘Don’t hate the player…’ But also, don’t necessarily hate the game, either.