Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tech Tuesday: The Purpose of Games

When most people think of gaming, they think of SimCity or Halo, games that are primarily designed for recreational use. An older generation of gamers will remember Mario and PacMan, arcade games that are in many ways responsible for the popularity of gaming today.

A lot of people really enjoy playing videogames. But if you ask them why, the answer is usually really simple.

“I like to play videogames. They’re a lot of fun.”

That answer doesn’t satisfy a lot of people, especially adults that aren’t technology natives. They see a generation invested in virtual realities and lament all that videogames are taking from society.

What about all the things gaming gives to society?

Like it or not, we live in a technological world, and that technology has a direct effect on our interactions with one another. Studies have shown that gaming has an overall positive effect on social development, especially in young people with autism- videogames can teach those children how to respond to visual and verbal cues. Many gamers play online with collaborative communities, so they are actively socializing in a new way, connecting with people with similar interests.

Games have been proven to help develop critical thinking skills, as players are tasked with connecting events throughout the game and determining how to move through each level or episode. As a result, gamers are able to concentrate for long periods of time, an essential skill in education and the workforce.

A recent Huffington Post article details how gaming has become a scapegoat for violence when in fact studies have shown that players of violent videogames are aggressive only in relation to the game they are playing. In fact, games are good sources of stress relief and personal escape. They improve hand-eye coordination and various cognitive functions, from multi-tasking to decision making.

Gaming is slowly becoming an avenue for change, with websites like Gaming For a Cause raising money for cancer through gaming. Here at the EMC, we have created games like BREAKAWAY, which addresses the issue of violence against women, and Breath Biofeedback to reach out to children with Cystic Fibrosis and encourage the adoption of breathing exercises. The purpose of gaming is evolving into so much more than what it once was—in many ways it has become a platform for positive change.

What in your mind is the purpose of gaming?

Written by Jillian Casey '15 

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