After a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida killed 17 people and injured 17 others, many were quick to point fingers at what influenced such violence.
President Donald Trump raised the controversial idea of violent video games influencing youth in a White House meeting for school safety shortly after the shooting.
While many people, like Trump, are quick to look at the negative impacts of video games, the benefits are often overlooked.
Video games can play in a huge role in developing problem solving skills, social skills, and multitasking skills for players of all ages. These are important skills people can use in their everyday lives.
All video games include objectives which can sometimes require players to solve puzzles, survive, escape, collect, or complete the game in a time limit. The option to change the difficulty of the game can increase the challenge.
Jane McGonigal PhD, is an author and designer of alternate-reality video games which help solve problems and improve lives.
She says role-playing games (RPG) help players evaluate options and think strategically to solve imaginary and real-life problems. RPGs, by definition, are interactive.
Players can interact with a game’s environment, select dialogue with non-player characters (NPC) and combat.
Some decisions a player makes in an RPG can determine the success or failure for a player’s progress in the game.
At the World Innovation Forum 2012, McGonigal explained players will fail approximately 80 per cent of the time while playing video games.
Despite the amount of failure players experience, they try again and problem solve to succeed. This builds both problem-solving skills and resiliency.
Games with a multiplayer feature allow players to co-operate with others online to complete or achieve an objective.
Katherine Keyes, PhD and associate professor in epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, says children who play video games may socialize with friends better.
Online games that randomly generate teams promote player adaption to effectively to work as a group. Voice chat applications enhance player team communication and give players the opportunity to talk to new people.
In the 2010 TED Talk, ‘Gaming can make the world a better place’, McGonigal says playing together builds stronger social relationships through cooperation.
Finally, players have to monitor many details such as health stamina, map navigation, time limits and more. The ability to focus on all these details at the same time help build multitasking skills.
In the article ‘Brains on video games’, Daphne Bavelier, PhD in brain and cognitive studies, says the fast pace of action games support the capability for gamers to switch between tasks faster than non-gamers.
An example of possible multitasking for a job position may be an employee using a computer while on the phone with a customer. This situation is similar to gamers who communicate with teammates while they play.
President Trump, and non-gamers, may not recognize these many benefits of video games. But as McGonigal, Keyes, and Bavelier have shown, video games can benefit everyday skills such as problem-solving, multitasking, and social skills.