Right? After all, that’s what the nay-sayers claim! So all of us gamers sit in front of our screens drooling and grunting, only taking short breaks to go out and commit random acts of violence. Yep. That’s me – every single day. Drool, drool, slobber, slobber, grunt, snuffle, grunt… wham, pow, grunt, blam…. drool, slobber slobber ….
After all, the second we start to play our first ever game, we cease to be actual, functioning humans and turn into thoughtless, mindless freaks.
But is that it?!? Really?!? What don’t the nay-sayers get about gaming and gamers? Slobber, grunt, hmmm, grrr… Sorry about that – I lost myself in the stereotype for a moment! Here goes:
There are a huge number of people crying out that video games are evil and are the cause of the vast majority of violence in the world today. Those that don’t believe that all gamers are violent psychopaths think we’re all lonely geeks who live in our parents’ basements with no friends and no life. But – thanks to numerous studies – including a huge one by the American Psychological Association in 2014 – and a huge global community of awesome gamers breaking stereotypes and holding down high-flying jobs, running billion dollar businesses, or generally making a huge success of their lives, slowly attitudes are changing.
So just in case any of you are starting to feel like all those stereotypes are accurate – here’s what we really get out of gaming:
Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination
Playing games improves your fine motor skills and your reactions. How? Think about it. It’s obvious. Whether you’re playing WoW on your PC, a console game, or a mobile one, you have to move accurately, quickly, and with precision. Whether you’re aiming a high-powered uber weapon at a ravening beast of hell or feeding your farm animals, you’re making fine precision movements, which help improve your fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This makes you better at a whole variety of things – including – shock, shock horror – sports – yep – football, tennis, lacrosse, badminton, all those physical activities that gamers couldn’t possibly participate in.
Logical Thinking and Problem Solving
Where’s the key? How do you get over that giant gap? How can you take out that sniper’s nest without getting slaughtered yourself? All the challenges that you face and puzzles you figure out – whether you’re playing Gears of War or Candy Crush – help you develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Unless you can think logically and solve a conundrum, you’ll never get off the first level.
Spatial Awareness and 3-dimensional Thinking
This only applies to specific games – such as shooters and RPGs – not flat 2D puzzlers. But your spatial awareness is much better than that of non-gamers. These types of games help you think in three dimensions. To time and judge jumps, rolls, opening doors, the distance and timing between the endlessly-swinging axes that block your path, you have to be able to think in three dimensions and use spatial awareness. So this is yet another skill you gain while not even thinking about what you’re learning. These skills are proven to go hand-in-hand with skill in mathematics, computing, engineering, and technology – which are all highly sought-after skills in the world of work.
Focus and Concentration
This is a no-brainer. If you can’t concentrate – you can’t expect to last long while you’re playing. Of course, we’re not suggesting you play for hours and hours without taking regular breaks. But, as you get into a game – of any kind – you focus – and you concentrate – to increase your skill and progress further. And, as the studies show, you can apply this concentration and determination to other areas of your life – whether it’s school, a job, or a business venture.
Another no-brainer. A huge array of games – from esports to console games – require you to work as part of a team – whether that’s a team made up of friends, total strangers, or just you and AI characters. With teamwork comes leadership skills and decision-making abilities. To succeed, whether you’re acting as a team leader or a team member, you must think and act for the good of the team. This is an invaluable life skill.
It’s not all facts, figures, statistics, and spacial awareness. Gamers frequently need to get creative and think outside the box to outfox their opponents. Creativity and imagination are crucial skills for everyone, particularly for those wanting careers in the arts, technology, media, and more.
Relaxation and Anti-anxiety
Getting away from all the problem-solving, adrenaline-rushing, high-octane or strategic action, simple games – like match-three puzzlers are shown to reduce anxiety, induce a sense of happiness and achievement, and generally provide relaxation.
Coping With Failure and Emotional Resilience
This one is for kids, really – particularly in the modern era where children are wrapped in cotton wool and even at many schools there are no “winners” or “losers”. With video games, you run out of time, get hit by a bullet, fail a mission – you lose – and you go back and start again. It teaches children to cope with and react properly to failure, instilling emotional resilience. Let’s face it, screaming at your Xbox and crying like a whiny baby won’t make the Xbox feel bad and “unkill” you.
Community and Cooperation
With internet gaming bigger and more popular than ever before, gamers aren’t isolated. On the contrary, we are in contact with people – whether while actively gaming – or via our social media – for a huge amount of time. Not only do we have a community and a circle of friends – our network is global. It makes us more tolerant of those from other countries and cultures and teaches us to cooperate in spite of our differences.
Not all games do all things. And yes, young children playing survival horrors or blood-thirsty graphically-violent games is not a good idea. Nor should we closet ourselves away for days on end without venturing outside for some fresh air and exercise. But we are NOT the gormless failures the mainstream media and hardcore anti-gamers claim. We are individuals – with an array of skills – many of which are, on average, more highly developed than those of non-gamers. We hold down jobs. We are creative, imaginative, well-balanced creatures!
– Katy … slobber, urgh, grunt … Willis