Photo by Niko Balkaran
Every few months, the news world runs articles boldly proclaiming that video games are a menace to society. Video games corrupt the young and encourage all who play them to live out violent fantasies is the conclusion of these articles and some who read them. These articles usually enter the media sphere, especially if there has been a mass shooting or some dangerous activity that has recently occurred. All the blame for these individuals’ actions is usually thrust upon the corrupting influence that video games have. However, this fails to consider that individuals are responsible for their actions. Because in the same vein of blaming video games, the same argument can be made for movies, television shows, novels, and even radio shows. The simple truth is that how one decides to use entertainment media is entirely up to them. This paper will show how students can use video games to develop various skills, such as problem-solving and analytical, physical, and social skills, to improve their lives in the real world.
The first skill that we will explore is problem-solving and analytical. We will use the video game Life is Strange, published by Square Enix. Life is Strange is a video game series where the protagonist can rewind time. This ability allows them to explore other options, such as dialogue and item interaction, to solve a mystery and get a good ending for the game. Phil Ventimiglia and George Pullman discuss how helpful this is in their article “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy.” This ties directly into what they say about critical thinking being "an iterative process of hypothesize, test, refine, repeat." Players are encouraged to seek new solutions to solve the mystery by rewinding time and exploring different paths in the game. You must pause and consider what went wrong in your last run and how to avoid it again. We are no strangers to the question, ‘What could I have done differently?’ This game gives you a chance to answer that question. You can continually rewind time until you reach the solution that leads to a good ending. Players can recognize patterns and subtle nuances missed previously because of the opportunity to try repeatedly. This can transfer over to the real world, where these skills can be put to use, taking in available information, finding connections, and being able to present a solution.
Video games can also affect our physical skills. In news articles, video games are often associated with health risks such as obesity and cardiac problems. Video games are often the scapegoat for a poor diet and lifestyle. The fact is that no matter what games you play if you do not make an effort to be healthy, you will not be. Video games are just like movies, music, and books: they all come in various genres. If you only focus on one genre, you can not experience another. However, there are games such as Nintendo Ring Fit that helps players to develop an active lifestyle. After answering a few diagnostic questions, such as age and fitness level, the game starts the player slowly out on an introductory stage. And in video game fashion, as you level up and build stamina, you advance to progressively trickier steps. At the beginning and end of every workout, the game gives you a variety of warm-up exercises to get your body acclimated to exercising. Activities in the game include squats, jogging on the spot, and knee lifts. The controller also monitors you to ensure you are not overexerting yourself and that your form is correct. Combining these seemingly simple steps shows the player that having an active and healthy lifestyle is not a chore but can be fun. This can influence you in the real world to explore other options to find exercises that increase your endurance or stamina. It teaches you the basics, eases you, and in some ways, traps you in a fun game loop where you can push your limits and even go beyond them.
We are in a period of history where we are transitioning to a different medium. Transitions like this are nothing new. Ventimiglia and Pullman acknowledge this in their article: "Socrates was concerned that transitioning from oral communication to written literacy would degrade people's intellect.” This is an important quote because it shows there is always opposition to change. Here we have Socrates, often considered one of the best philosophers, fearful of the change that paper would have on society. People can be shortsighted and, of course, fear new technology. Video games are like any new technology - it all depends on the person using them. In conclusion, if video games are used efficiently, they are a great gateway that will allow players to gain real-world skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and affecting our physical health.
Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe
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