All throughout my life I have played video games and without fail there is always someone that you come across that wants to blame video games for something. With such a large focus on the negative aspects of video games, I figured I would just write a little go to guide for all of us gamers out there when we encounter such folks for all the various ways that video games can be beneficial.

#1 Video Games Can Help Develop Your Brain

Numerous studies have shown that because the playing of video games engages in interactive processes (like observing what is going on in a game and then actually doing it yourself) as opposed to a memorization process, they can actually help improve visual skills and increase the brains capacity.  As a result, while playing games kids continually develop their analytic and problem solving skills.

It is no surprise that video games are used in schools as even when I was in elementary school (going on 25 years ago) classic games like Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, and SimCity were being used to supplement education and promote learning.  However, these older games pale in comparison to current games which involve complex dynamic systems, which could help students to learn how to solve problems, communicate, think strategically, and begin to predict things that might be coming later down the line.  Games like LittleBigPlanet, Spore, Portal, Civilization, and numerous other games could easily be used in the educational system today.

Schools like Quest to Learn in New York City takes things a step further and are an experimental school (6th through 8th grade) which completely deviates from the “normal” school system.  They not only use video games, but also help design them as part of their classes.  Katie Salen, one of the executive directors of Quest to Learn states:

“The big idea of the school is we looked at how games work — literally how they’re built and the way they support learning — and we thought could we design a school from the ground up that supported learning in the way games do”

Seriously all schools should have a critical thinking / problem solving lesson where you have to play Portal and if I was the teacher, I would promise the kids cake when they beat it, only for them to find out that the cake was a lie…

#2 Video Games Can Help Keep Your Brain Healthy

I figured I would just keep riding the coattails of statement #1, but playing video games can not only help develop your brain, but they can also help stimulate the brain by essentially “giving it exercise”.  Many people know that keeping the brain active helps to deter Alzheimer’s and dementia and as a result you find people keeping mentally fit by doing word searches, crossword puzzles, and even playing Sudoku.

There are plenty of video games out there that can help promote the same mental wellness.  Sure you can play Sudoku electronically just as easily as the one in the newspaper, or you could play a variety of games.  There are plenty of puzzle games (Tetris Attack is an excellent choice) on the market as well as a number of word games, many of which are free to play online like Bookworm or Text Twist.

Naturally when broaching this subject you can’t leave out games like Nintendo’s Brain Age series which has received a lot of attention. Brain Age on the Nintendo DS helps stimulate the brain through a variety of tasks like solving simple math problems, counting currency, unscrambling letters, and even drawing pictures using the touch screen and stylus.  When these older folks step out of their comfort zone, embrace the technology, and commit to using it their minds grew sharper and it also helps them to feel better about themselves.

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About Matt Smith

A gamer, BJJ/Muay Thai practitioner, an anime junkie, and a ginger too boot! Been a gamer since I was 5, rocking it on my dad's Atari 2600. Hit me up on XBL/PSN CopTop1