We have all heard hazard stories and ill effects on video games. In addition to understanding the many real concerns that today’s parents have with video games; it is also worth considering the benefits and positive aspects that contemporary interactive learning provides.
One of the most common criticisms of video games are that they allegedly increase violent tendencies among youth (Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Funk, Hagan, Schimming, Bullock, Buchman & Myers, 2002; Gentile & Anderson, 2003). However, from my personal experience with gaming and watching others, my friends, family members, young kids at gaming zones etc., I couldn’t help but think that it is also important to recognise and discuss the benefits and learning that this medium can have.
Games, act as simulations for life. They give you the safe environment to learn where decision making and risk-taking has no real threat. You have room to make mistakes, experiment and learn from trial an error and the only cost is losing a game.
Ian Bogost, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and founder of software maker Persuasive Games emphasizes an important point “Look at ‘World of Warcraft’: You’ve got 11-year-olds who are learning to delegate responsibility, promote teamwork and steer groups of people towards a common goal.” Youth who are actively involved in gaming learn skills that could have been very difficult for them to have learned otherwise in a safe non- threatening environment. While playing, they are required to think on their feet, deal with threat from opposition, use creative ideas to tackle problems, compete, think strategy and problem solve. It also enhances goal setting and perseverance in goal achievement. Strategy and war games emphasize strategic, tactical, and logistical challenges.
Reeves et al (2008) go so far as to say that World of Warcraft provides an excellent training ground for effective leadership strategies, in large part because it teaches an understanding of the types of environments that facilitate adaptive decision-making. Games create situations where players not only must make decisions, they must make them quickly and they must continually adapt to changing circumstances and rules. These circumstances encourage cognitive flexibility, the tolerance of ambiguity and comfort with decision-making without full information—excellent skills for dealing with real world situations on a daily basis at work, at school and at home (Reeves, Malone, & O’Driscoll, 2008). Research underway by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) indicates that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts. In fact, results from the ONR study show that video game players perform 10 %to 20 % higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than non-game players.
Similarly many new researchers have found tremendous benefits and advantages of gaming. I believe that serious games and virtual environments are a strong medium of education and must be considered as seriously as any other medium.