The adverse effect of violent video games has been a highly politicized issue. There is a continuing concern that these games may make the players more aggressive in reality. However, little discussion is done over their positive effect. Are all these games really bad for players? It is impossible to refute the arguments presented by both the camps. Statistics show there are more than 150 million people playing video games in the US, spending an average of 3 hours per week in front of the screen (Nichols, 2017). The average age of a gamer is 35 years, and 72 percent of the gamers are 18 years or older (Nichols, 2017). This shows the expanse of video gaming users. Even though decades of research have failed to reach a consensus regarding the effect of such games, yet popular opinion tends to focus on its negative impact. One cannot refute them altogether because of the recent Blue Whale debacle. However, criticizing it based on prejudicial bias is ineffectual. Therefore, this paper presents the thesis that if the hours of playing violent video games can be monitored, they can easily improve fast reaction, working memory, social involvement, and quick problem-solving.
Video games affect both the brain and behavior of the player. It is believed to change the structure of the brain. Research points out that these games can improve sustained and selective attention (Nichols, 2017). Research shows that they capture the player’s attention, and the brain reacts by releasing memory-enhancing chemicals (Toril, Reales, Mayas, & Ballesteros, 2016). Thus, non-violent video games are believed to enhance the visual working memory of the players (Toril et al., 2016). How do such games improve working memory? Since performance depends on the retention of the fast-changing visuals presented in the games, players require continuous visual attention to complete a task. This stimulates the brain to automatically prepare for the challenge, therefore pushing it to retain more information. Thus, this improves the amount of information preserved in working memory while the brain filters unnecessary information.
Video games can improve the reaction. They are believed to improve quick decision-making ability and reaction. Since fast-moving games entail decision-making in a fraction of seconds, it speeds up the reaction of the players even in real life. Studies have shown that gamers who played action video games are quicker in responding to difficult situations than their strategy game-playing peers. The reason behind the augmented decision-making capability is simple. People usually make a decision based on probabilistic influence (Nichols, 2017). The brain continuously accumulates bits and pieces of visual and auditory information and based on the computation of the probabilities of these inputs, it makes the best possible decision. Regular players are more efficient in making such decisions quickly for these games teach them to process more information in shorter duration in order to make an informed choice based on it. Thus, video games help players to make decisions faster.
Quick Problem Solving
Playing video games enhances problem-solving skills. Many believe that such games have the ability to improve attention level, mood, cognitive strength, and social relations (Walters, 2015). Many games like StarCraft help to improve the fictional and real-life problem solving ability of the players. StarCraft is a science fiction game where the players have to solve imaginary and real-life problems. These games help the players to learn to execute strategies they formulate. These games are developed to bring the players into a multifaceted interactive world where they have to solve difficult problems to complete a task. They have to make and execute strategies based on their previous learning and experience. These decisions are either made alone or along with a team of other players. Jane McGonigal points out that people who play video games regularly are highly creative and think out-of-the-box (Walters, 2015). As players constantly face difficulties while playing games, they acquire the ability to think fast and fix problems quickly.
Video game players have often been stereotyped as island personalities. Critics believe they show social withdrawal syndrome, which is a direct consequence of playing games in seclusion. However, online video games are played with teams where group decision-making is necessary (Nichols, 2017). Online multiplayer games create social networks that help players share their interests and they interact continuously while playing the game. This can easily be called a technology-enabled playground where groups of people come together as they would while playing baseball or soccer. Hence, the argument accusing video games of creating island personalities is futile.
Technology has changed the way video games are played. No doubt, violent video games tend to make players more aggressive but it is equally true that such games can foster learning and cognitive development. They are more interactive and require teamwork. Developers today try to create interactive, focused, tough and engaging games that improve the brain and change the way a player thinks. Therefore, video games today have more positive effects and fewer detrimental consequences.
Nichols, H. (2017). How video games affect the brain. Medical News Today. Web.
Toril, P., Reales, J. M., Mayas, J., & Ballesteros, S. (2016). Video game training enhances visuospatial working memory and episodic memory in older adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10(206), 1-14.
Walters, N. (2015). Playing these 6 video games could help improve your problem-solving skills. Business Insider. Web.