Any advocacy for gaming will get a nod of disapproval from many! Largely due to the “let’s jump to the conclusion” panels that hold video games in bad light and responsible for health issues and violence. There are fundamental flaws in such arguments.
Are games really the cause of violent crime?
In the US, there have been multiple cases where killers and robbers claimed to be avid gamers. Well, that’s mainly because of the insanity defence provision in the American justice system. This claim, if proven, does not hold defendant responsible for his or her actions during a mental health episode.
It is convenient for murderers and thieves to blame their heinous crimes on video games such as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto. A long-term study, led by psychologist Christopher Ferguson, found no link between the violent behaviour and video games. In a study, the US Secret Service found that 12 percent of perpetrators of school violence had an interest in violent video games. On the other hand, 37 percent were into poetry and writing essays. Let’s ban the poetry, shall we?
Does gaming have a negative impact on vision?
A quick Internet search and you’ll find hundreds of articles claiming how playing video games is bad for your vision. It is true that too much of gaming isn’t healthy. But then, everything in this world is bad when done in excess. Most of the harm related to eyes is mainly due to mediocre screens.
Take for instance, today’s best-selling display type LCD (with LED backlight) that not only sucks at picture quality, but also hurts your eyes. These transmissive screens have LED backlights to make images visible. Watching such screens for hours is like staring at a light bulb. Due to their emissive nature, Plasma televisions don’t have such negative effect on your eyes. So let’s not blame LCD’s fault on video games.
With most negative aspects addressed, let’s consider the brighter side of playing video games:
Hand-eye coordination and motor skills
A slight delay, and it is a ‘game over’ for you. Video games teach you to respond swiftly. The moment you perceive a threat, your fingers need to act on a controller. This improves your hand-eye coordination. Playing platformers such as Super Meat Boy, boosts your motor skills. Jumping from place to place may look stupid, but trains your muscle to react swiftly with precision. According to the Beth Israel Medical Center, doctors who play video games havebetter results performing surgeries.
Accuracy and situation awareness
FPS (First Person Shooters) put you right in the middle of the most challenging situations. To complete the mission, you have to perform a series of tasks without getting killed. This generally involves running, wasting enemies, gathering intel, and finding a way out. To get rid of the enemies effectively, accuracy is important. Moreover, keeping an eye out for the danger improves a person’s situation awareness.
A scientific study conducted by the Brown university concludes that the gamers have relatively better grasping ability. It was observed that, “video game playing not only enhances the amplitude and speed of perceptual learning but also leads to faster and/or more robust stabilisation of perceptual learning.” In short, gamers are likely to interpret bi-stable images quicker than the mere mortals. For better understanding, check out the image below.
RTS (Real Time Strategy) games such as Age of Empires and SimCity enhances a person’s ability to manage the resources at hand. A player has to micromanage multiple things such as construction, food, law and order, defence on quite a large map. Improves your multitasking abilities. The gamer also learns to identify the problems that need to be solved on priority. In short, it’s somewhat like a quick and fun management course. Actually, considering the sorry state of cities in India, we would suggest the government “Babus” to play these games at least a few hours every week.
As kids, we frowned every time someone told us to take failures positively. However, video games taught us the same thing in a fun way. Take for instance, boss fights in action games. The reward of getting past a villain is so rewarding, that you don’t easily give up. This teaches you to avoid mistakes and approach a problem with a different approach. To a certain point, player also gets good at taking calculated risk.