video games are good for you

11 10 2006

I saw a neat article in the news recently, about some senior citizens who are playing video games.  Many people think video games are childish and just for kids, but the majority of gamers are over 18.  Typically, few people over 40 or 50 play video games, but that number is growing.  The article, Guard your Game Boys kids, here comes Grandma!, talks about how games are good for your mind and reflexes.  I agree with that, and it’s nothing surprising to me.  All the talk in that article is about how great it is for grandparents to play video games.  But what they “left out” is where I could rant for a few minutes…

I glance over video game news occasionally because I enjoy playing games, and I think gaming is getting a bad rap because of certain senators and lawyer Jack Thompson in particular.  Most of the mainstream news about video games is about how they corrupt people, supposedly making them go out and commit crimes.  So, comparing the two age groups here, when it’s about younger people, games are evil, but when grandparents play video games, it’s healthy for them mentally.  Now, I realize there’s different types of games, but some mentioned in this article are very violent.  So are older people immune to the supposedly corrupting force of violent video games?  Or are they choosing the response based on the target audience?  I suspect the latter has the bigger influence.

I realize kids are more vulnerable to being influenced by games, but here’s what gets lost almost every time when someone blames video games for youth violence : the extremely violent video games are rated M for Mature, meaning you need to be 17 or older to buy or play the game.  The problems are retailers that don’t enforce this, and even more so, parents that don’t keep an eye on what their children are doing.  The games get rated appropriately in most cases, but if people ignore the ratings, it does no good.

Back to the article, here’s an excerpt :

Unbeknownst to many of her peers, 70-year-old Barbara Sainte-Hilaire, MTV’s “senior” video game correspondent and star of the blog “Old Grandma Hardcore,” is a sensation in video game circles.

A video gamer for three decades, the foul-mouthed granny who favors role-playing games and admittedly stinks at sports titles, says she indulges her habit for about 10 hours a day — significantly more than her 23-year-old grandson, Timothy.

Whoa! 10 hours a day?  That is a lot of gaming!

Here’s an excerpt that mentions the positive effects of video games :

While not all senior citizens possess Sainte-Hilaire’s grit and gusto, many are discovering that video games are more than just entertainment. They reinforce what a variety of scientific studies suggest: that video games can help keep aging brains nimble, encourage social interaction and quicken reaction times.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, 25 percent of U.S. gamers are 50 and older — the same group that is eligible to join the American Association of Retired Persons, whose own Web site (www.aarp.org) offers video games and articles about the benefits derived from playing them.

My point in this, besides being informative to those who find this interesting, is that you should be careful when judging video games, especially if you’re tempted to make broad, sweeping generalizations.  Some games are bad, of course, but some are not bad at all, and some are even designed to help your brain work better.  So it’s not fair to cast all video games into the same judgment, yet some people are intent on doing this (and for some reason these people also get a lot of press about it).

Also, as said above, it’s not right to blame video games for youth behavior when parents aren’t monitoring what their kids are doing.  I realize the trend these days is for people to take no personal responsibility, instead blaming various things.  But that is so unhealthy and ineffective.  By pointing fingers, we’re not treating the actual problem, so it will keep repeating itself.

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20 02 2007
Beppo’s Blog » Blog Archive » video games can make you more skilled at your job

[…] In the news today, a study showed that surgeons who play video games are more skilled in precision surgery techniques than those who don’t play video games.  It’s nice to see video games finally getting some good press.  For too long they have been blamed for violent behavior.  (I’m not refuting the notion that some games can encourage violence, but it’s silly to say a game made someone violent or caused them to act it out in real life.  But I’ve already ranted on that.)  Many video games are not violent at all, and they improve hand-eye coordination, as well as exercising the brain.  This study backs that up.  Here’s an excerpt from the article : There was a strong correlation between video game skills and a surgeon’s capabilities performing laparoscopic surgery in the study published in the February issue of Archives of Surgery. […]

2 05 2007
Beppo

A friend sent me another news article that lists 5 ways that video games are good for you. And the neat thing is, there’s actual research backing some of this up.

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