A really interesting post hit the Boston Globe’s website a couple days ago about the positive effects of gaming. Essentially, challenging games that force you to solve through puzzles, without access to the internet and the plethora of walkthroughs and cheats, actually help make you smarter.
Well maybe not “smarter” but definitely increases critical thinking skills. In her series ‘Gaming for Noobs’ Vanessa Formato discusses how she not only discovered latent problem solving super powers, but she also discusses the sense of achievement she felt when she finally found a creative solution to the problem.
Ladies and Gents, this is the future.
A popular theory states that games exist as purely an escapist medium. While somewhat true, it describes only half of reality. Gamers play on average about 20-30 hours of their game of choice per week. That length of time rivals a part time job. According to Jane McGonigal in her book “Reality is Broken,” gamers volunteer to take on unnecessary tasks and challenges because it provides them with a sense of accomplishment. This is where the escapism comes in, often we all feel a little trapped in life and by logging into World of Warcraft to knock out some dailies we get that sense of accomplishment. That isn’t the best part though.
On average gamers who play about 20 hours of games a week tend to be more efficient and generally more content. In her book McGonnigal goes into the theory behind this in greater detail and goes further to describe how harnessing this for a greater purpose could change the world.
She isn’t too far off. There are already examples of legitimate areas of academia turning to video games for answers. Scientist studying the effects of a pandemic turned to World of Warcraft to study how an in-game plague spread throughout the virtual world. Even the Smithsonian opened an exhibit detailing the art of video games. Times are changing everyone, buckle in for the ride.