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Video games are scapegoated for a lot of the world’s ills. In recent years that trend has begun to change, but people still like to point fingers. You really shouldn’t let yourself get suckered in by the misinformation that mass media and politicians are trying to shove down our throats. Here are a few things to make you think.
In the last decade video games have begun to surpass movies, TV, and books as a preferred medium for entertainment. Video games are not just for children anymore, they are just as enjoyable and useful for adults and even seniors.
Scapegoating of popular or new ideas is nothing new. Video games are just catching all the bad press that at one time was attributed to other things. At one time, the music we now call “golden” oldies was treated the same way. Rock music, Rap, girlie mags ( I mean the kind that featured art that was popularized by nose art on WWII planes), roleplaying games, a laundry list of books and even showing your ankles have all been given the same kind of bad reputation that is now attributed to video games. Something always catches the heat for crime rates and gets blamed for what is supposedly wrong with “children today”. Look in the mirror if you want to know the source for the world’s problems. Video games are not a problem, as a matter of fact they are good for you.
I make sure that my mother continues to play video games on a consistent basis to make sure she stays sharp. I encourage anyone who wants to improve their memory and general mental acuity to play some video games. Video games make you think in ways that other activities just don’t.
RPGs require a lot of different thought processes. Inventory management makes you analyze weight to value ratios and makes you learn to prioritize. Party management teaches you the value of teamwork and forces you to strategize based on the different strengths of the people in your team. You also have to consider various options and methods to use when tackling a large problem. Puzzles are also often a large part of RPGs and we all know that puzzles can be taxing on your mind. All this mental work is just part of it though. You also have to have good hand-to-eye coordination and split second reflexes to get through many of the combat aspects inherent in many of the RPGs from the last decade. Just take a look at how many walkthrough sites and strategy guides are available for many of them. Some of the strategy guides are the size of a paperback book. Can you say “encourage your children to read”?
It’s not just RPGs that are good for you either. There are a lot of games out there nowadays where you emulate playing an instrument. Sales of real musical instruments are on the rise and so are the skills that are required by musicians. These are the kind of games that make you get up off the couch and actually move around. It’s not a high-intensity aerobic workout but it’s a lot better than being sedentary all day. Music games really make you work on your hand to eye and even hand to hand coordination. More than any other game type they increase your reflexes and hand-eye coordination. They make you actually listen to music and you begin to have an appreciation for the skill that musicians have instead of just listening to what is popular. You’ll find yourself listening to more and different types of music that you didn’t notice before. I already had some music training and I still found myself listening to different things after I played one of these games. People like to say that “variety is the spice of life” but they probably don’t realize that it really is true. You constantly need various types of different stimuli over the course of your life to keep your mind in tip-top shape.
Another kind of game that will really make your mind work is the strategy game. Just as the name implies they make you work out strategies. The more in-depth ones can actually teach you some important lessons in money and time management. I personally own a game that is used to teach college level economics; it’s even fun to play. Many people seem to think that these types of games can be rather boring but there are always the “Real-Time Strategy or RTS” games for people who need a faster pace. They don’t require as much management or time as a turn based strategy but they do require the ability to make decisions in a very quick and efficient manner. If you want to work on your long-term thinking try something from the Civilization franchise, and if you’re going more for quick and efficient decision making try something like “Age of Empires”. Real world skills can be learned while having fun.
The advantages of playing video games don’t stop there either. They are also proven to help in pain management as well. There have been a few studies on the subject and I can speak from personal experience on the matter. I went through an extended period of chronic debilitating pain and found the the distraction of an in-depth video game took my mind off the pain and allowed me to think clearly for a while.
Video games can also be used as a kind of preventive medicine and therapy. Yes, that’s right I called video games medicine. It has been proven time and time again that high stress levels can actually cause illness. Stress is the cause for many of the health problems which plague us. We all occasionally have homicidal thoughts when we get cut off by some jerk in traffic or when the boss suddenly drops a big project in our lap. Now imagine yourself immersed in an imaginary world where you can relieve yourself of all those negative urges. There are many video games on the market that give you a mental pressure release valve. You even get a higher score for being especially violent in some of them. Immerse yourself in a fantasy world for a while and relieve your stress then you can get back to your real life with a clearer head. Once you learn to relieve your stress with video games, you’ll soon discover that you are sick less often and sleep better.
There are a few other things about video games to keep in mind before you consider saying or thinking bad things about them. Video games make billions, the child who is better at them than their peers may very well be on their way to a million dollar a year career. There are actually professional video game players and even leagues for them. I once entered a tournament that had an $80,000 prize for the winner.
Even the US Military knows the real value of video games. One of the best first person shooters you can get was designed by and for the US Army. It’s incredibly realistic and very hard, It’s also a free download. The Army designed it to train infantry soldiers. The Army aren’t the only ones using video games. Video games can also teach you how to save a life or go on a bombing run. Flight simulators are just a kind of video game after all. The US military needs the kind of skills that an expert gamer can bring. They need people with razor sharp reflexes and split second timing to fly unmanned missions. As you can see, playing video games can also be patriotic.
So the next time you hear someone trying to blame video games for something, just remember what you’ve read here. Video games are just one of the many things that have been blamed for the exact same problem, and playing them is actually good for you in many ways. They can improve your life from childhood all way into your senior years. Stay sharp and play a video game with your kids today!