Seven Reasons to Play Video Games
From the video game arcades of the 1950s and 60s to emerging 3D and virtual reality technology of the twenty-first century, video games have sparked excitement and controversy. Researchers continue to study the effects of games and gaming on individuals and society, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest that some games can enhance cognitive abilities and assist learning. Still, gaming while studying tends to get a bad rap and students who spend time shooting, jumping, racing, and building in virtual spaces might feel that they're wasting time. But gaming isn't necessarily a brain-drain. In fact, many games, both vintage and new, offer valuable brain-training and cognitive benefits, and studies show that some students learn better when using games. Gaming as a learning tool has become standard in many primary and secondary schools, and if you think about it most of us grew up learning to read, type, calculate, and avoid dying of dysentery through games, so why stop once you enter university? Read on to find out which games to play and how they can help your studies.
1. Stay in Shape
Everyone knows that staying in shape while studying can be tough. Convenience food, all-nighters, and lots of time in the library do little for your waistline, or you heart rate. But fear not – video games to the rescue! There are tons of digital apps and devices that can help you monitor your activity and calories, but the Nintendo Wii Fit takes interactive fitness to a whole new level. Games like The Biggest Looser turn fitness into a competition, while Wii Fit Plus, which can be added to the original Wii Fit, lets you customize workouts and track nutrition. You can even get one-on-one training sessions with games like Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2010 or My Fitness Coach. So whether you're trying to stay in shape or lose that Freshman-15, video games could be the best form of motivation this side of boot-camp.
2. Make Friends
Sure, university is about studying and earning degrees, but it's also a time to socialize and meet new people. Video games may have a reputation for being anti-social, but many of newer games not only include social functions but encourage team-work and communication. Some games allow players to connect online and complete missions as part of a team, while others, like Rock Band (and to some extent, the related Guitar Hero), necessitate group play. Rock Band is a great game for parties, and everyone can learn and master the game. Rock band is must-play for music students and non-music students alike, and it's a fun way to show off your coordination and fine-motor skills.
3. Learn Urban Planning
If you're studying city planning, urban development, or just like world-building, there's a whole range of games that can help you develop your skills and practice your strategies. Cities: Skylines, a new game developed by the Finnish developer Colossal Order, follows in the footsteps of old classics like Sim-City, but goes even further by allowing players to interact with zoning laws, taxation, and other real-life factors of urban planning. The game isn't a substitute for your public administration lectures, but it will give you a chance to model some of the ideas you learn in class.
University is stressful, and there are times when you feel that you just need to rage a bit. But most campus policies frown on underground fight clubs, so try the next best thing. Street Fighter is an oldie, but a goodie and the title's 2008 release, Street Fighter IV was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed titles ever. It's available on a range of devices, including Android, and hearkens back to earlier iterations of the Street Fighter series. The game allows players to fight as a variety of different characters with various motivations, and the home versions allow for additional down-loadable content.
5. Hone Logical Reasoning
One of the most commonly cited benefits of video games is their role in developing logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities. In fact, brain-training games are big business and researchers have been studying their impact on cognitive decline and aging brains. There are tons of games that employ logical reasoning. Popular titles like Skyrim and Fallout incorporate tasks that test players ability to problem-solve, often in morally-complex situations. But if you want a pure problem-solving, puzzle based game with an infuriating task-master, look no further than the Portal series. Portal is a puzzle-solving game for one or two players, and players must use logic and spatial awareness to escape from increasingly complex prison rooms. The game gives players the chance to solve problems in their own way. Just remember that the cake is a lie.
6. Learn History and Strategy
Games have been used to teach history and military strategy for at least 1500 years, and many of us probably learned a lot of history and geography from classic games like Risk, or late-90s computer games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? But the Civilization series takes history and gaming to a new level. In this turn-based game, players select a real-world civilization to build and develop. Players can choose technology to research, cultural artifacts to construct, and patterns of diplomacy with randomly generated neighboring civilizations. Each civilization presents unique advantages and challenges, and while the game isn't 100% historically accurate, it's an engaging way for history students and casual players to immerse themselves in the concepts of nation-building and cultural strategy.
In the early years of video gaming, most games were very constrained, and even the most interactive worlds were limited by technical capabilities. But, with the advent of 'sandbox games,' players are now able to wander and explore without many limitations, and developers are using AI to take gaming to new levels. We're still waiting for the release of No Man's Sky, an adventure survival sandbox game unlike anything in existence. The developers claim it has the potential for four billion years of exploration time. In the meantime, games like Minecraft offer almost unlimited possibilities, and players are always finding new ways to expand the game's scope. Minecraft was developed by a Swedish programmer as a building game, but the game's various modes give players a wealth of opportunities, and the world-building play appeals to players young and old. Minecraft has been hailed as the game-play of the future, where players essentially create the games parameters and players are still finding new ways to enjoy and learn in Minecraft.
Read more about computer science and software engineering.