Video games get a bad rep. People are quick to point the finger of blame because video games are sedentary (you spend all your time sitting down to play them), unsociable (although you can hook up with players from all around the world) and often violent (which is sometimes hard to argue against).
But what about the benefits? And there are plenty of them. The truth is, too much of anything can be bad, but playing video games has been proven to be advantageous in several significant ways in terms of young people’s development. Here are five incredibly useful skills that video games enhance.
Whether it’s a role-playing game, or you are constructing your empire, video games not only present players with a plethora of problems that must be overcome, they must be overcome quickly too. Okay, so in real life, you might not ever need to decide where the best place is to build a hotel, or need to rescue your platoon from behind enemy lines, but the point is that with these simulations of pressing issues, your cognitive response is to seek out a solution as quickly and effectively as possible. That is a real-life skill, and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. Oh, and it is also top of the World Economic Forum’s list of key skills required for the workplace by 2020.
And at the same time as solving all of these problems, you are having to make decisions at breakneck speed.
“Life is full of decisions. We make good ones, and sometimes we make bad ones, but often the worse decision is to not decide at all. Indecisiveness costs us more than anything else, and that is true at a governmental and societal level as much as it is at an individual level. Video games teach you to make decisions and face the consequences of those decisions. Is there anything more ‘real world’ than that?” asks Deborah Manning, a game blogger at Origin writings.
The skills that computer games teach you are not limited to more cerebral considerations either. That’s because a huge number of games require rapid reaction speeds to master the task at hand or defeat your opponent. And the reactions that are developed by playing these kinds of games are essential in any number of real-life pursuits, from driving and piloting (where driving and flight simulators are forms of video games), to all sorts of sporting activities and roles without the emergency services and armed forces. The scenarios may not be the same, but the hand-eye coordination required to complete games these days is invaluable training to any number of highly regarded jobs.
It depends on the game, but there are many which actively promote teamwork efforts, often performed alongside people you have only just met (and often only online).
“The teamwork element of video games is entertainment mimicking life, because, in many jobs, you are thrown into a team where you must work effectively alongside individuals that you barely know, forging relationships as you go along, but working together to complete the task at hand. Video games need not be solitary activities at all, and the ability to work effectively with others will stand you in good stead for nearly every job imaginable,” says Kevin Ferguson, a business writer at Australia2write.
And perhaps the greatest skill of all that video games can teach you is perhaps the most understated and underestimated skill on this list. Indeed, it may be the most underappreciated skill of them all. Because if there is one thing we need more than anything in life, it is the ability to persevere. If at first, you don’t succeed, then try and try again. Okay, so you don’t get to start again if you die in real life, but the point is that most video games are far from easy, and failure will nearly always precede success. And that is one of the most valuable lessons anyone needs to learn from life: it’s not easy, but the greatest rewards come to those who keep trying nonetheless.