TERRY STAWAR: The jury still on video games | Opinion


Once again this year my wife Diane and I spent Christmas with our daughter, her husband, four older children, three dogs, countless cats and our son, who came from New York for the fun of it. Everyone had a great time, but it seemed like the mainstream activity was playing video games or watching others play video games. This activity was followed by shouting, eating cookies, listening to Christmas music and cooking. It was largely a boisterous chaotic affair.

Worldwide, video games are a $ 120 billion industry with over 2.6 billion participants. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 67% of American adults play video games and 76% of children are regular gamers.

Elizabeth Boyle of the University of West Scotland, believes that the motivation for playing video games can be found in the theory of self-determination. This theory argues that behavior is primarily motivated by the need for competence, autonomy and relationship.

Video game blogger Chirlien Pang says skill is learned in video games when the player is fully involved in solving the challenges of the game. Autonomy is achieved when the player takes control. Finally, Kinship is fulfilled when players are able to interact and compete in a unique way and environment.

I grew up with video games. I was immediately drawn to them. I remember playing ping pong on a Magnavox Odyssey, which was the first commercial home video game system. Atari copied the game and turned it into his highly successful Pong arcade game in 1972. Incidentally, scientists at Cortical Labs, most recently, were able to teach a group of isolated human brain cells in a petri dish how play virtual pong. Apparently those few brain cells are better in Pong than I am. I have never been able to put English on the ball.

Obviously, human brains aren’t the only ones that can play video games. Hungarian neuroscientist Viktor Tóth created a virtual reality setup for rodents and taught rats how to play Doom II. He says he would also like to teach them how to play Pac-Man in 3D, but he thinks that would be too difficult, as the rats would have to chase things contrary to their natural instincts.

When I had kids I got a ColecoVision console and later a Nintendo entertainment system (supposedly for them). We had to constantly blow air through Nintendo cartridges to clean them, and we all played Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong day and night. I later bought our son a Game Boy portable video game console, but by then the video game industry evolved far beyond my comprehension. Eventually, however, we bought a Microsoft Xbox for our grandchildren to play when they visited, due to complaints that it was boring with us.

Video games and board games are both popular when it comes to vacation activities. Some believe that classic board games allow for a more intimate, interpersonal connection between players, while others tout party video games like the Jackbox series, which allows multiple players using their smartphones to access the game.

In 2019, Johannes Gutenberg’s psychologist Juliane Heiden conducted an in-depth study on the association between video games and psychological functioning. She concluded that while video games were associated with positive feelings and satisfying social relationships during gaming, it was also possible that games led to psychological symptoms such as inadequate adaptation, negative feelings, low self-esteem. of oneself, a preference for loneliness and poor academic performance.

These researchers also believed that the reasons why gamers play certain types of video games might help therapists develop appropriate interventions that might alleviate some of the possible negative outcomes.

In 2017, Abdullah Allam from Cardiff Metropolitan University looked at video game genre preferences, when it comes to Big Five personality traits in online gamers. He found that gamers consistently scored high on neuroticism, which is a trait linked to negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, anger, embarrassment, and irritability. Those who preferred action video games got the highest scores for neuroticism and extraversion. Horror / survival video game players also had a high degree of neuroticism and a low openness to new experiences. The dominant personality trait of sports video game players was openness to the experience and they scored the lowest in terms of likability.

Games are often seen as identity management where people assume alternate identities. According to Nick Yee of Quantic Foundry, however, the data shows that “gamers are playing games that match their personalities.” Those who are extroverts seek social and action-oriented games. Conscientious gamers have a preference for games that require intense thought and planning. Yee says, “… people play games not to pretend to be someone they are not, but to become more of who they really are.” “

The final verdict on video games is yet to come. In a review of ongoing research published in The American Psychologist, Isabela Granic of Radboud University found that playing video games, even violent shooters, can boost children’s learning and social skills. . While she still has concerns, saying that “significant research has been done for decades on the negative effects of gambling, including addiction, depression and aggression, and we are certainly not suggesting that it should. to be ignored. ” She also says video games improve mood, promote relaxation, and combat anxiety.

The strategic and problem-solving skills developed in games can also be “effective tools for learning resilience”. Video games can also help develop spatial navigation, reasoning, memory, and perceptual skills. Note also that more than 70% of gamers play their video games with friends.

According to Montreal psychologist Celia Hodent, an expert in video games, “… video games, like all games, have cognitive and social benefits, depending on the type of game.” She believes that concerns about video games are exaggerated, so much that children play age-appropriate games that do not dominate recreational activities or interfere with sleep.

Guess it won’t really be Christmas from now on until I watch Mario and his pals make soup.


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