Here are three incredible ways video games can make you smarter.
Conventional wisdom has always pointed a dowdy finger at video games. Relegated as a waste of time and a promoter of violent behavior, video games historically haven’t been seen as assets to youth culture, rather as hindrances to their mental development and educational pursuits.
But while some people still dismiss video games, no longer are video games thought of as a purely childish hobby, considering the fact multiple generations of gamers have grown up and unsurprisingly decided to keep playing games.
Video games are even being recognized for what they are and what they can ultimately be: tools for the mind. It’s a concept that seems new and maybe even dangerous to educators, but to game designers, the idea of egging a gamer on to the next level, to learn the next combo, to research and figure out the best attack strategy – all of these things inhabit a cerebral area of the mind. And just as scientists are beginning to understand how well music can benefit a growing or an ageing one, so too can video games provide the incentive to engage the brains.
“Video games make you stupid,” may sound like conventional wisdom, but it’s not a very wise thing to say, these days.
1. Video games teach you about How to learn
The concept of learning how to learn is really central to western education. Especially in today’s fast-developing era of rapid technological changeover, new emerging job sectors, and quickly intensifying worldwide communication, being able to adapt and pick up new skill sets and information on the fly is essential to being successful in the 21st century.
Ask any video game designer and they will tell you: the key to a great game is that it makes you want to learn. A simple example can be found in the first minutes you start playing a new game. Brawlers, RTSs, RPGs, MOBAs – most video games feature far more controls, rulesets, strategies, and decisions than games of the past.
However, players today are comfortable with pulling up control schemes, memorizing command keys on the fly, and looking up tips as they go along. Heck, the stats we use in RPGs are just that, statistics. Funnily enough, what some consider to be one of the most boring mathematical subjects ever created lays at the heart of one of the most fun genres of games to play.
“Of course, game designers could have solved their learning problems by making games shorter and easier, by dumbing them down, so to speak. But most gamers don’t want short and easy games. Thus, designers face and largely solve an intriguing educational dilemma, one also faced by schools and workplaces: how to get people, often young people, to learn and master something that is long and challenging – and enjoy it, to boot,” wrote James Paul Gee from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2. Video games turn work into play
Another interesting quirk about video games is how they instill a very important personality trait: the ability to focus and persevere. It’s a personality trait that educators seem to have a hard time instilling in their students, mostly because they can’t get their students to engage with the material in the first place. However, when a person is playing a video game, the level of attention placed on the game is remarkable. While it may be argued this mindset is no different than the “focus” we place on our television set as we stare blankly at our thirteenth episode of Teen Mom, the argument can be made that video games improve focus, tenacity, and many other personality traits.
3. Video games can make you a better person
Personality development seems to be more and more one of the most beneficial aspects to video games as we move into an era where co-operative and multiplayer games seem to dominate the market. These games are built on testing your ability to work with others, typically while talking over headset. Interestingly, many of the same in-depth gaming conversations you’ll listen to are not far removed from an important board meeting – just switch out “DSP” for “dividends” or “manna shares” for “market shares” and you’ll get the point.
Working with people is one of the most important ways to succeed in life. No matter how high your IQ is, if you can’t interact, collaborate, or connect with other people, you won’t be able to accomplish many things. Einstein didn’t build the atom bomb all by himself. And no one ever won a DOTA game without some teammates. Video games teach the value of teamwork and cooperation, and understanding those things can give you far more useful skills than some information memorized from a textbook. But do learn your times tables. That stuff’s important too.