Games Are Good For You, Duh

Seeing this post on Kotaku pointing to this article: Game skills pay off in real life (Mercury News) made me wonder whether I, as a gamer, am like the people cited in the article.

Got Game: How the Gamer Generating is Reshaping Business Forever is one of the books cited in the article. One of the co-authors of the book conducted a survey of business professionals which showed a correlation between managerial behaviour and gaming. “Gamers are better risk-takers, show particular confidence in their abilities, place a high value on relationships and employee input and think in terms of ‘winning’ when pursuing objectives.”

I’m not sure about being a better risk-taker. I’m one of those people that like to do everything well, and everything perfectly. In table-top, I wouldn’t call myself a power gamer, but I certainly don’t like to be weak or to ‘lose’. I would say that I play strategically (and within the constraints of my character’s personality), and if that means calculated risk, then so be it.

If I’m playing a console RPG, I’m level-grinding like no tomorrow so that I don’t die and I have to get my party members revived. So yeah, I power-game in console-style RPGs, I admit it.

However, if I’m playing a third-person adventure game, I will take a lot of risks to get past a part I’m stuck on — even if it means dying. You can’t complete the game unless you comeplete all the challenges, right? :-D Playing video games trains you to look for every possible solution to a problem, and sometimes it means getting eaten by a monster and having to try again.

As a role-player, it’s fairly obvious to me that gaming can be used as a way to develop skills that are applicable to real-life situations. Even more so with live-action role-playing (LARP). One doesn’t often hear the argument for playing RPGs, but LARP helped me to become less shy in social situations. RPGs force me to think quickly and imaginatively when faced with tricky situations.

During the course of many undergraduate degrees in the social sciences, one is often subjected to scenario exercises which require the student to step into a role (manager of a plant facing closure, diplomatic envoy dealing with a political crisis, economist brought on to advise on monetary policy). Even in government and the military, they do role-playing and wargaming exercises and training scenarios. The only difference between those role-playing games, and the role-playing games that I play are the setting and the scope. Their settings feature the real world, the settings I play in feature an imaginary world. But the skills are transferable.

It’s pretty silly to me that gaming gets the flak it does, because the benefits of gaming, as the article cites, can be enormous — buidling a child’s vocabulary and linguistic skills by playing the dialogue-intensive Pokemon; financial and resource management in The Sims and any number of real-time strategy games, from Starcraft to Rise of Nations; keeping fit by playing Dance Dance Revolution; improving hand-eye coordination; using your mind to solve logic and verbal puzzles. The list goes on.

Although most gamers don’t think deeply about what they are getting from a game, apart from entertainment, I think most of them would probably agree with the conclusions of these research studies.

  2 comments for “Games Are Good For You, Duh

  1. dyannamika
    13 May 2005 at 03:00

    Wow, agree with you 100%, but of course you knew that!

  2. 13 May 2005 at 23:13

    Yes. I am omniscient. ;-)

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