Why Computer Games Might Be Good For Young People
Let me cover some viewpoints and offer perspective to counter some of the negativity aimed at gaming.
Gamers are escapists. They certainly are which is an important attraction making computer games a successful commercial product. Why might escapism be good? One answer is that some of our young people live in homes that are troubled. One in eight adolescents may be suffering from depression. One factor that may lead to depression includes family problems. I was utterly shocked to learn about one local high school child after another that was experiencing problems at home based on parents not having it together for a variety of reasons. Depression may also lead to suicide. In a lot of games, success is almost guaranteed and this just might give a young person a sense of accomplishment when their own personal real life home experience is deficient.
One person proposed that young people should learn a musical instrument to gain a sense of achievement instead of mindless computer game killing. Besides that fact that not all children are pushed to play an instrument by their parents or even have any self motivation to do so, let us look at the opportunities to play an instrument. Some schools have dropped their music programs which can be a huge negative factor. School music programs give powerful peer support. Personal music lessons range around $20 a hour and thus can cost $80 to $100 a month if you buy one lesson a week. Instrument rental or instrument purchase, insurance, maintenance, sheet music, parental taxi costs vary but my point is that a Playstation 3 with a few games is a much cheaper cost. Some families just can not afford music instrument lessons.
The viewpoint that gaming is pointless can partly be refuted by science. Studies have shown that playing certain types of games can improve mental agility. (Newsweek, January 10 & 17, 2011, Article: Can You Build a Better Brain.) Video games improve vision (ScienceDaily, Sept. 13, 2010: Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions That Are No less Accurate). See also NPR Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills (http://www.npr.org/2010/12/20/132077565/video-games-boost-brain-power-multitasking-skills).
One game, in my mind, stands out being superb in refuting arguments against gaming (except cost) because it demotes the killing and adds so much ancillary aspects that seem in many ways to run parallel to our real lives. In some ways, it is an alternate universe to our own but where the rules are easily understood and the ladder to success is well defined. In many ways it prepares our young people to cope with our current real world because it does not minimize the complexity that these young people will need to face. That game is World of Warcraft. This game does use killing but for purpose that rewards. The game is over the top complex which in itself might help cognitive function. It also teaches economics, government, collaboration, (contrived) history, wants vs needs, sharing, and much more.
As a parent I soon discovered that giving important child possessions is one of the most significant if not important mechanisms to get your child to do a chore. Tell your child that they will not be allowed to play a game until their room is cleaned is a powerful control.