Gaming is a lot more than just violence

Next time, you can tell your parents that video-games might actually be helping you deal with problems in the real-world.



The aim of games is to fail. One researcher argues this helps gamers in real-world conflicts.

Without a doubt,  people of all ages should have more opportunities to be exposed to video games because they can teach problem-solving skills and enhance their reactions and concentration.

For example, as Jane McGonigal, a game developer and gaming researcher, noted in her World Innovation Forum and TedTalk about gamers’ untapped abilities, gamers are out-of-the-box problem solvers.

Why does she say this? Because, as she puts it, players spend about 80 percent of their time failing while playing video games. This may not seem positive at first,  but think of the idea of failure.  Most people in real life would quit after such a repetitive lack of success, but gamers don’t mind their failures and the more they fail, the more they try to succeed at the task, or game in this manner, until they win. 

Back in 2008, a scientific online game called Foldit was released to the public. Designed by the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science and in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry, Foldit was released as an experimental research project with one aim in mind: to challenge humans to use their problem-solving skills in a competitive environment to predict the structure of a protein and design new proteins in turn. The protein problem presented had been a problem with AIDS researchers for 10 years: trying to figure out the protein that causes AIDS in monkeys. 

Once the game was public, the difficult protein problem was solved in 10 days. Two years and 57,000 players later, Foldit gamers were outperforming computers designed to find solutions to biochemistry and molecular questions.

As Matthew Lee, Co-Chair of Serious Games at the International Game Developers Association puts it, “games are all about taking complex problems, making them relatable and personal through narrative and interactivity.” Both Lee and McGonigal believe that gamers are more prepared than most to succeed at their task at hand.

On the contrary, most parents believe that video games, even beneficial ones like Foldit, can lead to violence. A study in 2007 by the Swinburne University of Technology found that while some children became more aggressive, others became less aggressive. The vast majority did not show any changes in their levels of anger.  

My point being, video games, being easily one of the most controversial topics in modern society, are actually helpful.