Aiming to Understand Video Games
By Griffin Cipriani
In this day and age, technology dominates many aspects of people's lives. According to TweakTown news, the gaming industry generated 108.9 billion dollars in 2017. There is an estimated 1.2 billion people who play video games around the world.
There has been much debate on whether video games are good or bad for the developing mind. Most research from the past was conducted to uncover the negative potential effects of video games. These effects include the neglect of non-video game hobbies and being distracted from schoolwork or chores.
Novato High english teacher Christie Wright expressed her concerns with video games.
“Students want to check their phones continuously to check the updates to their games and it is a distraction for them. I understand how appealing games can be, but it seems there is no self-control, which is a large worry,” said Wright.
Another problem with excessive video game use is the suffering of relationships with family and friends. According to LiveStrong.com, “Relationships with friends and family members may suffer if your child is spending more time gaming than he is talking to or going out with loved ones.”
Novato High digital arts teacher Howard Gersh also has views on this topic.
“My wife and I have also noticed that when our kids play video games for too long, they become a little spacey, detached, and irritable,” Gersh said.
The idea of spending more time playing video games than spending time with family or friends may seem unimaginable to some, but it is a reality among a number of teens. The idea of family board game night is becoming less and less common.
One of the most common things you might hear about violent video games is that they desensitize people to violence. A CNN.com article addressed that idea.
“The American Psychological Association observed in an August 2015 policy statement that research demonstrated a link ‘between violent video game use and both increases in aggressive behavior ... and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and moral engagement.’”
To really judge whether something has a positive or negative impact on the human mind, one must examine it from all perspectives. Research suggests that playing these types of violent games can strengthen spatial navigation, reasoning, memory, and perception.
“There’s a lot of research out there about video games, both positive and negative. I don’t think video games are necessarily bad for brain development,” Novato High Psychologist Arezu Iranipour explained in an email. “I also don’t think violent video games lead to violence or a lack of empathy in society (there’s no consistent research to support that). Some research suggests that playing video games can improve a person’s visual short-term memory or help them be a more efficient learner (possibly because you need to filter out distraction in action games while identifying more goal-relevant information).”
Contrary to popular belief, violent video games have some pros that other games do not. Different types of games bring different skill sets.
“A 2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions, just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills, according to the study,” the American Psychological Association reported. “This enhanced thinking was not found with playing other types of video games, such as puzzles or role-playing games.”
Novato High freshman Seamus Busby explained the positives of violent games.
“I feel they are good for your developing mind because they help grow your teamwork skills, communication, and reflexes greatly, which will all help in the real world,” said Busby.
As for everything else in life, moderation is key. Too much of anything can be harmful, but a little of something may prove to be beneficial.
“I’m a firm believer in moderation for most things, including video games. I grew up on Nintendo and Mario Bros. and vividly remember one summer that consisted of hours in front of my TV. At the same time, I definitely spent many hours that summer outdoors in the sun,” Iranipour explained.
Although these violent games are here to stay, the are not all bad. They provide a range of essential skills for life despite taking people away from social settings.