For Better or Worse: Can Video Games Be Beneficial?
The negative associations with video gaming are numerous. From claims of user addiction, violence, and poor health the world of gaming has been vilified when it comes to adolescents. To make the point, the World Health Organization even created a specific gaming disorder classification in 2018. But despite the furor over too much screen time or inappropriate content, a new Oxford University study reports that time spent playing video games is positively associated with wellbeing. The research shows that feeling accomplished at a video game is gives the player a healthy mindset. Plus, making online social connections through gaming gives gamers enjoyment and positively influences their mental health offline.
But gaming is not just for entertainment value. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs credit video games with their success. Tesla founder, Elon Musk, believes video games opened his mind to computer programming at the age of 12. Mark Zuckerberg has said the same thing. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is even using Twitch to live stream herself playing the hugely popular Among Us video game to increase awareness of politics among youth as well as raise funds for charity.
Did you know studies show that playing video games has cognitive benefits? A German study found that playing Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day increases gray matter in the brain. British research also shows that strategic video games can increase a player’s “brain flexibility.” Other studies indicate video games help manage symptoms associated with PTSD, stroke, and autism.
But what about academic and career achievement? Yes, video games can help in those areas too.
Gaming Academic Success
There is much talk about video games hurting academic progress. Video games are blamed for shorter attention spans among kids and interfering with schoolwork. But many games improve attention, memory, and decision-making according to research published by the American Journal of Play. Not to mention, the Northwestern University and Columbia University found that games where players explore, build their own world, and set their own goals are good at critical thinking. Games like Minecraft and Roblox let kids imagine and develop their own world fueling future creativity and innovation.
In contrast to what most people believe, video games teach patience through delayed gratification and self-discipline. When a player loses, most will continue to play until they have solved the puzzle or completed the challenge. This desire to get it right, translates into perseverance and strive to accomplish things in the real world as well. Sometimes, being unsuccessful in a virtual world can provide confidence in other areas of an individual’s life.
And it is not simply the building-type games that are beneficial for gamers. Action games are also linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions. These kinds of games give players the opportunity to try and fail without real-world consequences. They can also allow them to escape a negative home life, bullying by peers, or the general pressure that comes along with adolescence.
Teachers are taking notice of the success of video games. Gaming has infiltrated the classroom to make learning more fun as well as to reach untraditional learners. Educational video games and simulators teach skills such as algebra, biology, computer programming, and flight training. Some teachers are using visualization games to bring the classics to life. Meanwhile, colleges and universities are offering video gaming courses for future teachers looking to integrate them into their classroom.
Playing video games can also help in climbing the corporate ladder.
Working Your Way Up the Video Game Ladder – Career Success
Many of the skills required of a professional such as collaboration, leadership, and strategy can be learned from playing video games. A new study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology found that playing the video game World of Warcraft can help employees thrive when working on virtual teams. Teamwork is a key component of video games as it is in the business world. Understanding how to work with a diverse group of people to accomplish a common task, is what most corporations seek in their employees.
Video games are also beneficial for honing the soft skills that are required of a working professional. They can teach users how to talk to people, problem-solve, build relationships, and learn while on the job. A recent experiment found that playing two hours of video games a week can make an individual more employable. In fact, the game-playing group in the study showed improved resourcefulness unlike the control group. Managers look for employees that can work independently and think on their feet, which is something video games can help to instill. Gamers are easy to work with and can quickly adapt to change. Researchers found that video game players exhibit positive qualities such as extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
Gaming can instill leadership skills in players. A 2017 Russian study found that gamers overwhelmingly demonstrate organizational skills, personal leadership, and tenacity of purpose. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are proven to improve participant leadership skills. Taking on varying roles and working with others can help to build a better understanding of what it takes to be a leader at work. Another study found that the repeatedly playing a role within a video game can help a user learn real-world leadership styles such as managing other employees or taking the lead on a project.
Landing the Job
The job market for gamers is gaining momentum. Both jobs within gaming and in other fields are open to the skills they bring to the table. While not everyone will strike it rich in gaming like some of the leading influencers, they can work in game development, programming, marketing, or sales. Every aspect of gaming requires the support staff to continue to make the industry thrive. Plus, a new start-up believes companies will be interested in hiring players outside of their creative team as game testers. Gamelancer has launched an app for gamers of varying skill levels to earn revenue as freelancers for hire.
In outside of gaming professional fields, more and more hiring managers are seeing the value video games bring to a potential employee’s resume. For example, the military is recruiting video game players because of their quick reflexes and ability to think under pressure. Gamers have a built-in knowledge of the latest technology and are easily trained in a wide variety of areas. Older managers are realizing they would prefer an employee that doesn’t give up easily over one with a perfect grade point average.
Traditional ways of thinking about video games being detrimental to a user’s health or future success are outdated and misguided. Everything has pros and cons especially when used within one extreme or another. But, with moderation, even activities such as playing video games can have countless benefits and lead to a healthier, happier, and more success life.
By Dana Hackley PHD in Communications Media and Instructional Technology. She is a Public Relations Specialist for Jackson Kelley PLLC where she creates, manages, and executes the firm’s communications strategy across multiple office locations. In addition, she works as an online Academic Coach through Instructional Connections LLC assisting with Communications undergraduate and graduate courses. *Write us a comment to consult further referencing