It’s Entirely Up To You

If you’re a person who plays video games a little bit or a lot, yet regardless you truly enjoy them as a hobby, or as part of your lifestyle, then it is entirely up to you to change people’s perceptions about what video gaming is and who video gamers are.

This blog is loaded with ammo that you can use to prove the usefulness of video games, and remind people that it isn’t simply a “waste of time”, and it certainly isn’t just a phase. Video games are social, they can help the ill, they can make you smarter, faster, they promote cognitive thinking, they help you think laterally and teach you how to solve problems. Last time I checked, the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory didn’t do that, and plenty of people spend hours on end watching that show (god knows why).

If you’ve played games for a while, I can say without a doubt that you have found memories playing video games with others til the early hours of the morning, or locking yourself in a room to play Bioshock Infinite back to front because the story line is just that good.

Playing games is something that you should be proud of, as it puts you within a community of great people (contrary to would some might have you believe), and the product itself is unlike no other.

So next time someone calls you out for playing video games, tells you to get a life or snarls that it’s bad for your health, tell them otherwise.

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A Balanced View of Gaming.

I wanted to level the playing field a bit, and allow my readers to understand that I do in fact realise that video gaming can pose negatives, if it is overused, just the same as anything can. I mean, if you eat too many bananas, it’s bad for you. Seriously bad.

Video games can be addictive, and many of the benefits of gaming that I’ve spoken about require that the user plays in moderation, or under the right circumstances. Playing Portal for a few hours a week will help boost your reaction time and cognitive behaviour, but constantly playing it non-stop may not have that effect – it may diminish your concentration or personal life.

Think of video games as fruit and veg in your diet. Sure, vegetables and fruit are great for you, but if you exclusively eat fruit and vegetables every single day without any proteins or iron, then your body will start to diminish and you won’t feel all that healthy. It’s about striking the right balance between playing games, getting physically fit and stimulating your mind in other ways.

There’s a great article about this that I shared on our Facebook page on this topic. The article was based around a study of children who played games from 1-3+ hours per day. The children who played around an hour per day were better adjusted, yet those who played over 3 hours a day were worse off. If you want to read more about this, you can check out the article here

The Reason We Game

With so much debate about the positive and negative effects of games, the current state of the industry and the over analysis of every aspect of a new game, from graphics to dialogue, we often forget the real reason that we play games, and why we’re so passionate about games.

It’s simply because they’re undeniably fun, and they connect people.

Video games have done this since Pong was designed for an arcade system. The explosive growth of online video games is for this exact reason. People love being social, and exploring a fictional, interactive world with a friend? You’re kidding me, how could that not be fun?

Whether it’s playing an online game with a group of friends, or all sitting in the same room with a few controllers, games seem to always have a way of bringing people together. Single player games even bring people together – people love to chat about their own experiences with a game, or even how frustrated they are when they’re stuck a difficult point stage.

If you’re a follower of the idea that video games are a bad hobby to have (which I disagree with), then there that is the one thing you cannot deny. No one has ever sat down with a group of friends and a few pizzas and play games and finished the night saying, “damn that was an extremely boring night, I really wish we hadn’t done that.”

And spending $60 on a game that a group of people can play for hours on end? That’s cheaper than seeing a movie (per person, anyway)

Hmm… I might go play some games right now.

Why Video Games Are The Interesting History Teacher You Never Had.

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One of my fondest memories of playing video games was playing the original Medal of Honor on Playstation 1 with my brother. For those of you who don’t know, Medal of Honor is a first person shooter set during the Second World War, and is largely based around true historical occurrences. While I know it’s a video game, and isn’t entirely historically accurate, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn a thing or two at a young age from playing it.

Today, I have a massive interest in history and war history in particular and that has a lot to do with playing these games when I was younger.

The point I’m trying to make is that a classic first person shooter can end up being more than just fun and games (ha!). Medal of Honor isn’t the only game based on true historical events. The on going Assassins Creed franchise is a crossover between true historical facts and a fictional world. As an Australian with very little knowledge about the American Revolution, Assassins Creed 3 taught me the basics and sparked my interest in reading up on it more.

While I have no issue with traditional forms of learning, I think there’s a lot to be said about gamification and game based learning in a history classroom. Allowing a student to explore a world, rather than read it on paper or hear it spoken about will undoubtedly allow a lot of people to emphathise with historical occurrences on a scale that other forms of teaching simply could not. Participating in the collapse of the Berlin Wall, witnessing JFK’s assassination and seeing it’s effect on the surrounding environment as opposed to reading a historians analysis of it will allow the foundation for learning – it will grow interest in students that are otherwise disinterested, and it will help those that struggle to grasp concepts wrap their head around them in a much more digestiable form.

Thanks for reading, let us know in the comments if you’ve had any experience with history and video games!

 

Video Games and Medicine

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It’s an odd combination of words, “Video Games and Medicine,” yet thanks to the Oculus Rift and games of increasing complexity, it’s becoming a more common one.

There’s been a fair bit of chatter around the medical applications of the Oculus Rift – a virtual reality headset that allows the user to be entirely immersed in whatever digital experience it’s projecting. The terminally ill or disabled can relax and live vicariously through footage of a South-East Asian holiday. The mentally handicapped can be run through simulations that are designed to stimulate brain activity and help with growth. These applications can be used on people with PTSD, young kids struggling with development and so much more.

While Virtual Reality is a new avenue where video games and medical practice can overlap, it certainly isn’t the only avenue. A study out of Florida State University by Val Shute found that the popular Valve title ‘Portal 2’ was better for training the brain and better human cognition than Lumosity, a popular online service designed to stimulate brain activity. And hey, Portal 2 has the surprising side effect of being ridiculously fun.

It doesn’t stop there – a great mini doco from National Geographic shows how researchers used the principles of video games to try and better treat stroke patients. This is definitely something you should watch, and you can check it out here

4 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Child Play Video Games.

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In moderation of course!

4. Video Games can help the development of ethics and language

When children play certain types of video games they are faced with both interaction and decision. They are often placed in emotional gripping situations where their actions effect the outcome of the story, or the characters within that story. These situations can be character building and give them a sense of understanding into ethics and language that carries into the real world. In fact, a school in Norway teaches literature and ethics through gaming. For example, the students were asked to play the popular The Walking Dead series and respond to the challenges faced in the game based on what they had learnt about moral philosophy. You can read more on that here

3. Increases decision making speed

Playing video games requires focus by their nature. An article out of phys.org suggest that this focus can increase sensitivity to what’s going on around a person, and help boost their ability to multi-task and make decisions. While this isn’t exclusive to children, this kind of mental development is reason enough to let your child play video games.

2. Increases Attention Span & Cognition

As mentioned previously, video games require a lot of focus and attention. A consistent level of focus on what point is bound to lead to an overall increase in attention span. A study out of New York University suggests that playing fast-paced games can increase attention span and reaction time, including helping a child in the classroom with subjects like Math. You can read more on this here

1. It Will Make Them Happier

This one might seem a bit obvious. Kids love playing games, so playing games makes for happier kids. This isn’t just speculation, an Oxford University study suggests that kids that play games just a few hours a day are more likely to be happy, well adjusted, emotionally stable, socially outgoing and form a larger circle of friends in the real world. If this isn’t enough reason, then I don’t know what is.