What we can teach from electronic video games?


Introduction of Smartphone with faster processors and higher random access memory (RAM) have made video games gain immense popularity. It is challenging, rewarding and entertaining at the same time. It is a misconception that video games are only played by kids or teenagers. Statistics show that the average age of persons playing video games in the U.S is about 33 years. Well, if that is surprising then it is quite unbelievable that 164 million adults in the US play video games. But again, that is statistics. However, opinions on the benefits and addictive effects of gaming have always been a live topic of discussion among parents of school-going kids. Nevertheless, researches have shown that video games can be effectively used to improve various skills and enhance brain function. 

Video games are not only fun, but address many of our psychological needs. Gamification, is now a scientific term, which refers to earning points, achievements to real non-game settings. Some online sites like deutsches-casino-online.de offer lot of incentives to their registered gamers so that they can earn more from gaming.

Why are video games so addictive? The video games give the excitement of making progress to achieve the goal. This satisfies a deep-rooted need in a person to feel productive. 

Video Games in Profession:

Some of the games that train the brain are first person shooter games. The effect of this type of game on the brain was first observed by C. Shawn Green, an undergraduate studying psychology at the University of Rochester in New York. He gave his friends a test of visual attention. He was surprised to find that their score was very high. However, to eliminate any possibility of the presence of some error in coding, he and his research supervisor took the test and found that their scores were normal. Investigating further, he found that his friends were playing Team Fortress Classic, a first person shooter game for more than 10 hours per week. 

Action games improve a person’s skill to focus on targets in a noisy and cluttered field. Researchers observed that action gamers could constantly track five moving objects in a visual field while non-gamers could track only three.  

Some professions like surgeons, law enforcement and military demand enhanced visual attention. In robotic surgery robots are used to assist surgeons to perform complex surgery where a very high level of precision and hand-eye coordination is required. Simulation games can help to train doctors to perform robotic surgery like video games, robotic surgery also requires the control of both hands, and at the same time constant monitoring of the activities on a screen.  A study by Kilic and others of the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston suggested that first person shooter games may help surgeons to improve their coordination skills and thus save lives in the real world.

Another study was carried out in 2007 which showed significant improvement of the surgeon’s skills when he/she played a video game before surgery.

Video games in Education:

Parents are often heard to complain that the kids get addicted to video games, which adversely affects their classroom studies. However, researches have proved that gaming holds a great potential in enhancing learning abilities.  It is said that kids tend to learn many useful and positive things by playing video games. These skills are not taught in the school and are very much needed to be successful in future life. Psychologists say that proper games help to solve the problems and in course, children develop the art of deep learning. 

Educationists and game developers are constantly devising new games that could utilize to turn this addiction to productivity and enhance the kid’s learning ability. Playing is the natural way children learn.  Learning should not only mean lecturing, which makes it boring and merely a task that needs to be completed. Gaming with its inherent engaging quality can be used to enhance improvement of logical skills, and also can be used to teach many subjects. It can also be used to sharpen problem solving skills.  

It has been established that games improve brain agility. This means by using video games in the classroom students could benefit from the ability to shift their attention from one object to another when required. However, it is not advisable to recommend first person shooter games for grade level students, but researchers are trying to find out similar games whereby brain agility can be improved. According to a study published in the Annual Review of Psychology by Richard E. Meyer of the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara (publication date: January 2019), learning science, mathematics, and second-language through games could be more effective than learning through conventional media.

The game of Minecraft is an example of how games are being used in education. Here the gamers are required to build a world in a square grid by mining, combining and proper uses of resources. This game requires planning and basic mathematics. This game has been used for a long time for assisting in teaching coding, maths and collaborating. Realising its potential as an educational tool, Minecraft Education Version was developed in 2016 by Mojang collaborating with Microsoft. 

There are some other games like SimCityEdu that teaches science and its complex relationship with the environment as well as urban planning, resource management and many others. 

Shooter type educational video games are being developed at the New York University’s Games for Learning Institute, which can improve cognitive skills in executive function.

According to Mayer and Plass, the classroom video games focus on a specific cognitive skill and make players practice that skill with feedback and responses. For educational purposes the video games must be progressively more challenging so that they can be used for both advanced and struggling students.

Video games for A Better World:

There is a TED talk with Jane McGonigal, where she tells us how gaming can make the world a better place. She believes that the benefits of video games reach far beyond training surgeons or teaching. She created games that prove that they can be used to inculcate the skill of collaboration between people and build real-world skills. She goes on to say that videogames can even help to solve global problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, conflict, and obesity because they demand a gamer to focus intensely on extremely complex and challenging problems.