Every now and then, some child therapist gets up on their high horse and starts ranting about how gaming stunts kids, makes them violent, anti-social and uncommunicative.
The gaming community yells back that it’s the parents who are anti-social and uncommunicative, and that they don’t give their kids good boundaries or world views.
It’s rarely a constructive dialogue.
So this post is more about pointing out the positive aspects of gaming, than trying to cut anyone down to size. It’s something we talked about a lot while building Turf Geography Club – creating a fun gaming environment that would hopefully translate to improved real-world skills.
In our world, we believe that the benefits of gaming lie in three specific areas:
- Dealing with challenges
- Being part of a community
- Personal development & improved lateral thinking
Let’s break those down a bit, as the sceptics among us might be thinking “it’s very easy to put some nice words in a list, but what does itmean?”
In every game, you’re going to face down challenges. That’s the whole point of any game – to overcome and obstacle, and to be crowned the winner for having done so.
Now, in real life, you might not get an award every time you rise to meet a challenge. But the sense of pride and achievement you get from beating a tough level in a game translates very nicely to overcoming a tough problem in the real world.
Gaming makes you part of something bigger than yourself. Many of us are really awkward. We’re not good in big social scenarios. All too often, the anti-game-brigade are larger than life, extroverts who don’t need the safety net of a screen to filter their interactions.
For the introverted, shy, anxious types though, gaming allows us to make friends, and to connect with real people instead of hiding away in our rooms alone.
You’re forced to grow as a person and to get better at thinking out of the box. There’s just no way you can become an adept gamer without spades of patience, strategic and measured action, and lateral thinking. You must develop these things if you’re going to get to the top.
These skills are also vitally important in the real world – for kids as much as adults – and I think it’s one of gaming’s great advantages that you learn these skills in an environment where mistakes only cost you a virtual life.