Sure, video games get a bad rap or a bum rap, whatever floats your boat. But who makes these claims that video games are evil and cause problems for society. My guess is some person who never touched a controller or played a simple video game in their life. They think that video games only revolve around shooting people and glorifying violence and crime. They don’t want to put blame on themselves and use an easy patsy to place the blame else where. But, right here and now I explain why video games are useful and important to us.
Math and Reading I bet that growing up, looking at the 80’s and onward, you played a video game. There are plenty on educational games out there waiting to teach someone math or reading skills or just help improve them. Personally growing up, I had two computers in my house. My dad would get computer games for my sister and I to play. I remember playing Putt-Putt, Freddie Fish, Reader Rabbit,The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain, and various Jumpstart games. I would play them over and over again because they caught my attention and made learning enjoyable for me. They also gave a meaning to learn new skills as all the games had a story that are engaging and made you want to finish the game. I still have copies of the games and I plan to revisit them someday.
Typing and Language Back in the old days, my middle school gave us a class period to work on our computer skills. Sure we would mess around but a main focus was learning to type. But man, did the program they used was horrible. Then, typing games began to pop up. These games just added competition. The best example is The Typing of the Dead for Dreamcast. The game had player progress through a story of a zombie outbreak. Typing was the main attraction of the game and the only way to kill the zombies. Having multiple enemies coming after you, helped increase accuracy and speed. Language learning can be seen in all sort of games. Assassin’s Creed III brought the Mohawk language to a wide audience. I was pleased when I could pronounce Ratonhnhaké:ton correctly and pick up a few words or phrases. But there are game directly related to teaching someone a new language. An example would be the My Coach series by Ubisoft for the Nintendo DS.
Management, Planning & Organization Have you ever tried playing Risk or Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution? Or any type of strategy game? Well one thing that won’t help you win is being unorganized and random. Game like those require full attention and careful planning. Thinking about your different options and what works best. Should I devote a city to produce tanks or build the United Nations? All the choices you make will determine the future of your civilization. The X-Com games also require careful planning. The games take an overview look of a squad of humans trying to fight off an alien invasion. Also, The Oregon Trail requires the user to plan and manage their trip to the west coast and it’s not so easy. Try playing the original and get your whole family to Oregon.
History Who says you can’t learn anything from video games? Well you can learn plenty of things including history. Sure you can’t believe everything a video game says or does but the developers do their research. The best example, Assassin’s Creed. The whole story of the games are rooted within history. Assassins against Templar Knights, both were real and fought often during the Crusades. Renaissance Italy was a location for two games and boy, did I learn a lot about Italian history. Other locations/events the games have taken place in were Constantinople/Istanbul, American Revolution, Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean, the French Revolution, and the Sevens Years’ War. These game use historical people to help place the story and have you participate in important battles.
Criticizing Society Games are more than just shooting people. They are able to criticize our society in a way that a video game can. Two examples would be Grand Theft Auto V and Flower. Even Watch_dogs. GTA take a more comedic route with the game. Social media, reality TV, capitalism, and immigration are a few topics that GTA picks on. Flower on the other hand, focuses on nature and trying to preserve it. The game is relaxing as you are a petal in the wind bringing color back to the world. The world in which Watch_Dogs takes place seems so far in the future but in reality its today’s world. To sum it up, Watch_dogs take place in Chicago were all electricity and security comes from a single source. The main character is a hacker and uses the city against itself, like causing a city wide blackout, changing traffic lights, and stopping a pace maker. We have this kind of technology to cheat the system and what happens in the game can happen in real life. But it brings up a question of an all technology society and if we really want it.