Gamers are part of a large and diverse community. They come in all shapes and sizes, (as well as both sexes). People who enjoy playing video games live perfectly normal lives, with the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as everyone else. They’re quite different from the stereotypical vision we have of someone who enjoys playing video games.
We all have that vision. The lonely gamer, sitting in his room (for some reason, it’s always a he in our stereotype), with the curtains drawn, toiling away through the levels. He lives in the dark, so has no need for day or night. Occasionally, for a break, he’ll listen to some loud and heavy music, usually metal, before immersing himself back in the virtual world on the screen. His skin is pale from lack of exposure to sunlight, he lives on fast food, rarely leaves the house, and is happy to lead a solitary and sedentary life.
In fact, video gamers may actually have an edge on the rest of us, particularly when it comes to learning. Recent studies tell us that gaming can help increase brain function and problem solving skills. Further benefits can include an improvement to spatial reasoning, memory, strategic planning, and attention span.
Obviously, the path to these benefits begins at an early age. Children are learning through play from the moment they develop motor skills. Later, games such as Minecraft can help children with critical thinking and aid in their understanding of cooperation and collaboration, as well as problem solving. The positive aspects of gaming can help students with Special Educational Needs to control their emotions and help them focus in order to perform better in lessons. The research also tells us that different styles of gameplay bring different benefits.
Action games such as Call Of Duty or FIFA can sharpen mental reflexes and strengthen our multitasking skills as well as building attention span and accuracy. We improve our ability to predict, anticipate and react. Some research suggests that such games can even improve vision.
Platform games such as Angry Birds boost the function of the brain by using problem solving, boosting memory and attention to detail. The concept of unlocking special rewards by reaching certain levels, as we see in the Mario Bros games drives us forwards toward the next stage, increasing and boosting our skills as we go. Our motor skills and reaction times are improved by having to avoid pitfalls and obstacles.
Role play games are more strategic, working on the longer term and encouraging us to think socially, analytically, and in a more cooperative way while presenting us with difficult choices. The focus here is on cause and effect, rather than simply on reward and gratification. By facing these ethical choices, the player is forced to consider consequence; another aspect we can utilise in our every day working lives.
Real time games make us think on our feet, making prioritised choices and planning ahead. We are encouraged to collaborate and cooperate in order to reach a certain goal. We succeed at games such as World of Warcraft, by completing quests, each of which demand different skills, so our ability to multitask is essential. As we all know, slaying dragons can be a pretty tough job, so we need to use all the skills we can!
We enjoy competition, it’s a part of us. We like to compete against others, just as we enjoy striving to improve our own performance. Through video gaming we sharpen our skills and reactions, sometimes without even knowing that process is taking place. Gamification is a key element of Wranx, driving users forward through the levels, completing drills and receiving awards. It encourages competition between individuals, as well as across teams. By adding this competitive element to learning and development, users become more engaged and enthused by the learning, and are naturally driven to achieve better results.
When it comes to video gamers, our stereotypical ideas certainly fall wide of the mark. Our friend Player One may just have an edge on the rest of us in some ways. His solitary pastime could well be giving him the skills to pay the bills. Which, let’s be honest, is always better than Game Over.