Video games are great…wait, no they are fantastic. That’s just a fact. Along with being a fun way to relax and kill some time, video games can teach you and your family a wide range of things and pretty much make you an all around better person. Now while making you a better person may be a bit of an exaggeration, I’m looking at you guy who tea bagged me in Destiny, they can in fact teach necessary tools that you can use in everyday life. I have compiled a list of the most prominent skills video games have the ability to teach and how they go about doing so. This isn’t an all encompassing list, and where one person may gain one skill, others may find something else. So, without further ado, I give you The Dadcade’s list of skills achieved through video game use.
Hand Eye Coordination
Have you ever been in the backyard playing a game of catch with your offspring and they just can’t seem to grasp where the ball will be in relation to their hands? Or maybe that fresh piece of fruit you just washed is rolling of the counter and you fail to grab it before it hits the ground. Well, video games can help with both of those. Playing a game can improve fine motor skills and spatial navigation that assist with functions like hand eye coordination. Studies have found that games from the first person perspective help the most whether it be a game like Call of Duty or a toned down friendlier game like White Swan or Portal. The hand eye coordination gained from using a controller to manipulate a character on screen with split second decision making is something that will show noticeable improvements in other aspects of daily life. So the next time you catch that falling glass from the sink before it hits the floor and shatters into a thousand pieces, remember to thank your video game controller, for without it, you’d be in trouble with your better half.
Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue and one you can master by simply playing any stealth game in existence. Any stealth game where you are sitting in the shadows waiting for your chance to strike can teach you to wait for the best possible moment before leaping into action. As a punishment for being hasty, players are often treated to a swarm of alerted guards and having to spend the rest of the level guns drawn and worrying about health and ammunition. In addition to patience, most games like this require the ability to recognize patterns in their environment. Granted, stealth games are primarily violent in nature but the same can be achieved in a game like Frogger. The moral of the story? Good things come to those who wait, and good patience skills come to those who play video games.
Teaching someone how to think abstractly to solve a problem is probably one of the best traits you can give someone. With this skill, people can attempt to perform any number of jobs from engineer to marketing to even possibly being Macgyver. Many games will present you with a goal in which to achieve and will usually give you multiple ways to do so. Plenty of games include an aspect of puzzle solving (like the water temple in Ocarina of Time) while other games are entirely puzzles themselves (like the Professor Layton series or again, Portal). There is a reason games like Chess are so popular and were a favorite of Generals and nobles and it’s because it teaches you strategy and the ability to plan ahead. The same can be said with the real time strategy games of today, like the Total War series or Civilization (or even Halo Wars for those gamers with finer tastes.)
You cant really teach something like imagination, all you can do is help nurture it so it can fully grow and blossom. There are no guidelines by which to do so, but there are games that require a ton of imagination to create something worthwhile. Games like Minecraft are essentially blank slates that let your child go in and create anything that they can imagine. It’s the digital form of Legos, and judging by the popularity with the younger crowd, seems to be standing the test of time. Imagination is also a really big part of problem solving and creativity. By fostering this in your children and allowing them to stretch the limits of their imagination, we can ensure our future adults will be well rounded and wonderfully creative. Can you think of where our society would be without the imaginations our greatest minds had?
For a while now many nursing homes and therapists working with the elderly have been using video game therapy has a way to combat the effects of an aging mind and body. Studies show that playing simple games, like those on the Nintendo Wii, can promote physical fitness even in those that have limited motion and mental fitness. This is done by way of stimulating little used areas of the brain in the elderly. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, routinely exercising your brain has shown to delay the onset of the disease and if video games are a way to help combat this disease, then by all means it should be used.
While video games may have once been seen as a solitary pastime, it is anything but nowadays. I remember rushing over to friend’s houses after school to sit and play the latest fighting game and that is still something I enjoy doing today. A good game can bring people together by providing a shared moment with millions. Even a terrible game can unite people in a comment section somewhere on the internet. With the ever growing presence of an online community, it isn’t strange to take that same concept of sitting on the couch with your friends and expand upon it world wide. People can plan raids in World of Warcraft from anywhere. Heck, even the two founders of this site met online and talk daily about their love of gaming.
Finally, the end goal of a game is to get to those end credits, to beat it, to say you have conquered it. There will be obstacles along the way, some may come in the form of a gigantic three headed beast or a brain racking riddle, but the intent is clear – to stop you from meeting your goal. I’ve been stopped countless times by such obstacles, but I was always persistent. A game, like life, may get hard and punishing, but it also gives you multiple chances and when you finally reach your goal it is one of the most satisfying things you can experience. This is ultimately why I play games and why I will encourage kids to play games. The other points I listed are great in their own right, but learning to not give up is a truly amazing feat to learn.