We’ve all sat in our room as children, getting frustrated while trying not to fall off the side of Rainbow Road or saving up a couple-million Credits for that Suzuki Escudo, when all of a sudden Mum or Dad (or Pop-Pop, Meema or Gammy) barges through the door like a one-man Running of the Bulls festival rabbiting on about how video games kill brain cells and that looking at the screen for too long will cubify your eyes. Imagine if you could’ve raised a pointed finger in preparation for a savage counter-argument on the matter (and managed to be so convincing that you didn’t get beaten because that’s what happened to ‘90s kids)? Well, if you’ve worked out how to go back in time and chat to your youthful self (or still a youth and suffering this horse-radish almost daily) then read on, because I’ve got some ammo for you to use in regards to some of the proven, positive effects playing your favourite games can have on your body.
Logic and Problem Solving
It’s like exercise for your brain. Flexing your problem solving muscles is a really effective way to help train your consciousness into making tactical and reasonable decisions. Considering we use this part of our heads almost constantly throughout the day, whether it’s a task as simple as working out how much force you need to use on a polystyrene cup so as not to crush it in your mighty paws, to working out the path of least resistance on your way home from work or school, training yourself into solving problems or making logical decisions is never a bad thing.
Enhancing Motor Skills and Hand-Eye coordination
First-person shooters are particularly good for this one. You need to look sharp, you need accuracy to be able to hit targets so you develop a sense of muscle-memory in order to react in a fraction of a second. Think of it like ‘ping’; the time inbetween your brain receiving the required information to send to your hands so they can act. You can actually slice that minute time almost in half with training, and you can even tell after picking up a controller for the first time and embarking on a MW2 binge how much better you get at quick-scoping etc. It all comes down to how on-point your motor skills are. In addition, this kind of training can help you make ultimately life-saving manoeuvres when driving a car or simply walking across an intersection crossing. That’s right, playing video games saves lives.
Age of Empires is a prime example of a game where you hone your ability to multitask, actually any kind of strategy game requires you to multitask at some level. Again, multitasking in the real world is a really handy skill, not just for time management or being able to pat your head while you rub your belly, but for becoming a much more valued asset to the business you work for. Being good at your job by being able to answer the phone, file reports and watch funny cat vids all at once is more or less guaranteed to score you a big fat salary increase. Mum and Dad, are you hearing this?
Developing Reading and Maths Skills
There isn’t a decent parent in the land that would want to deprive their nipper of being able to voluntarily learn literacy and numeracy skills. As you may be aware there are many games out there that require you to read captions to follow plots or work out puzzles using mathematical equations. Once more it’s simple: the more you do, the better you get. While managing equipment load in Dark Souls will certainly develop a child’s math skills (and also their acceptance of the inevitability of death), there are some straight-up educational games like Kerbal Space Program that are also stupidly fun as well.
Appreciating the Value of Currency
For some spoilt little silver-spoon brat this won’t come in as handy, but for us work-for-what-we’ve-got types, understanding the value of a dollar is one of the most vital parts of personal success. Sure, you can be told what it’s worth, but as a child it will be many years before you need to pay much attention to anything like bills or bartering. That’s why games like Skyrim or The Sims can teach you important things like item depreciation and budgeting. So read these words and pay close attention. When you’re an adult, these skills will come in handy. Every. Single. Day. Appreciating the value of virtual money might also make a child think twice about dropping $100 on the pay-to-win microtransactions in Call of Duty using your credit card.
Fell off Rainbow Road? Try again, and keep trying until you finish it. Sir Richard Branson said that perseverance is the difference between having a million-dollar idea and having a million dollars. For most of us, perseverance is the single, most effective tool in success, so it makes sense that the more you have and the more determined you are to complete your goal, the more likely you’ll end up where you want to be when you’re older. It prevents laziness, it radiates from you and helps motivate others and it’s just a good general characteristic to have under your belt. Just like the fact that Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough aren’t going to vanquish themselves, that 10-page job application isn’t going to fill itself out either. If you persevere, you’ll do fine.
So kids (and manchildren), do yourself a favour and print this out, or save this article to your desktop. Because the next time your parents swing open your door and try to flood your ears with stone-age nonsense and misinformation you will stand up, lock your heavily squared-eyes to theirs and proceed to fluently pat your head while you rub your tummy…aaaaand vacate!
Sources: Wikipedia, WikiHow, Study.com