Are Video Games Just Mindless Pursuits?

Are Video Games Just Mindless Pursuits?

Jim Windell

            Feeling guilty about playing video games? Do you feel especially guilty about allowing your kids to play video games?

            Relief is on the way. Thanks to John Velez, Assistant Professor of Communication Science at Indiana University.

           Writing in The Conversation, an online experts opinion forum, John Velez, whose research examines the benefits of video games, states that the evidence shows that people who play video games, such as Fortnite or Rocket League, have higher visual acuity. That means, he writes, that they can keep track of multiple moving objects at once – or even see things in the fog or rain that others cannot. “It’s one of the many benefits researchers like me have discovered about playing video games,” Velez says in his The Conversation article “Is Gaming Good for Kids?”

           Instead of taking the position, as many adults do, that video games are a waste of time or a negative force in your life, Velez contends that video games help the brain to grow. That’s because, Velez says, that the brain loves the kinds of challenges that appear in video games. These games flex the brain and promotes its growth. “That is one reason why video game players make better surgeons and why some doctors even use video games to warm up before big surgeries,” he writes.

           In addition, Velez has found in his research, that video games can develop other skills. For example, video games can teach children to never give up, no matter how many times it takes to beat the challenge in the game or reach the next level. The persistence young people use in video games shows that hard work will help them achieve their goals – both inside and outside the video game.

           Another advantage of video games, says Velez, is that to succeed in video games, you can’t just work harder; you have to work smarter. Beating the game or another really good player is not as simple as using the same strategy over and over again. “Instead, video games train you to solve problems by considering and trying different solutions,” Velez says.

           Velez, who runs a lab group named Mindless Electron Lab (MEL) at Indiana University that is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students interested in interactive media and media psychology broadly, argues that one of the very best things about playing video games is the friendship aspect of games. Not only do young people make new friends, but they can hang out with old friends. This, he says, is especially important during times when kids may not be able to see friends at school or at each other’s houses. “Video games provide friends a digital playground where helping and sharing is encouraged and often required,” Velez writes. “Helping each other build the biggest and best fort – or reviving a teammate when they’re down –strengthen friendships and can even help mend broken ones.”

           Velez emphasizes that while games are fun, increase challenges for the brain and teach life skill lessons, video games are easier than real life. But he says that video game players may be able to better deal with some of the more demanding aspects of real life if they use some of the skills they have learned from video games.

           To read the original article in The Conversation, click here.

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