The goal of this research paper was to answer one question. Which way do video games impact people the most? Socially, mentally, physically, or academically? This paper covers a variety of topics, spanning from common myths about video games to the framework of how the human mind processes information. The conclusion that was reached is that video games impact people the most socially. The criteria used to reach a conclusion were studies and statistics from members of the scientific community.
1.2 billion people on the planet Earth play video games daily (Soper). Out of these 1.2 billion people, 700 million of them play video games daily (Soper). Video games are known to affect people in a plethora of ways. These ways include mentally, physically, socially, and academically. However, video games impact people more so socially then they do mentally, physically, or academically.
One way video games can impact someone is socially. A monumental way video games help is by improving people’s teamwork capability. Contradictory to popular belief, video games prove more helpful than hindering. However, according to a study by the Entertainment Software Association, 46% of gamers play cooperatively and 54% play in multiplayer.Co-operative gaming would be the equivalent to playing a game with someone who’s using the same screen as whoever they are playing with, such as sharing a T.V. Multiplayer gaming is equivalent to playing online with multiple people at the same time. This shows that many gamers are actually talking and interacting with people while in the midst of gaming. This relates to real life interaction because it involves basic skills such as discussing and convening with people about a particular topic. A myth about video games is that they’re played by antisocial people who sit inside all day. When looking at the numbers, video games are more popular than a brand new movie playing at cinemas all across the United States. In 2014 Blizzard released the game Destiny and made $325 million dollars within its first five days of release (La Monica). Compared to the remake of Jurassic World that topped the box-office that summer with making only $70 million dollars in U.S. ticket sales (La Monica).
Another way video games can improve teamwork is by helping with communication. Playing video games is mostly about socializing and communicating. Also, many teens have said that in addition to communicating about the particular game to others, they often relate what is going on in the game to society today (Kananowitz). When playing cooperative games such as the Battlefield or Call of Duty series teamwork is vital. Playing video games forces you to communicate with the other individuals and work together to get the mission accomplished (Kananowitz). This is made possible by the resurgence in communicating while playing.
Major gaming industries such as Microsoft or Sony allow their systems to have voice-chats and parties where fellow players can communicate. For example, if a group of friends wanted to play Call of Duty together they could all simply join a party together and then from there coordinate how or when they wanted to play. A party on Xbox is just like a normal birthday party someone could have in real life. They’re both places where people can be invited too and converse about whatever they want; from there they can go do other things such as play games. However, there are two different types of chats or parties one can be in. The first option is the party chat, where one can only talk to the people that were invited party, which makes it the users choice, and they wouldn’t communicate with anyone else in the game they’re playing. The second type of chat one can be in is a game chat. In the game chat people are open to talk to anyone that is in the game. If there was a game with 100 players, it could be possible to talk with all 100 people in the game. To do this a headset; in order to have a vessel in which to carry out the communication, is quintessential. Yet, these headsets can still be wildly pricy. Popular brands such as Turtle Beach or HyperX can cost anywhere from $29.99-$249.99. Cases of headsets over $200 are usually from more hardcore players, so the casual video game fan can still find a quality pair from $19.99-$79.99.
Another way video games can improve social skills is by teaching how to support others. When playing video games it’s important to have everyone’s cooperation to complete the game, it’s important to support each other and help out whoever they are playing with. This is most common in RPGs (role playing games) such as World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls. In these types of games it’s usual to play in a group of four to five people, each person has a specific skill that another member of the party doesn’t have. For example, one member of the party might need a certain type of potion in order to defeat a monster, but another member of the party is the only one who can create potions. Although it is fairly new, competitive gaming has had quite the rise in popularity throughout the last couple years. More specifically they’re called eSports, and their popularity is growing at an astounding rate. In a study by Anders Hval Olsen of Cornell University it indicates that, the eSport audience is projected to increase by 305.51% from 2014-2019 (Olsen). The study also indicates that the virtual streaming audience will increase 140.61% within those same years (Olsen). These numbers indicate that the amount of people who will be watching these eSports will steadily increase throughout the next couple of years. In comparison, it’s like the increase of attendance at a baseball game. These eSports can become more useful socially in the coming years. This is because it could simply be used as an icebreaker in a conversation. It’s common knowledge that a good conversation starter is to ask about someone’s favorite sports team, such as the Boston Red Sox or New England Patriots. If eSports sustain their current increase in popularity, the future question may be, Who’s your favorite eSports team? This is how video games ultimately help people with their teamwork skills.
The final way video games help people is socially is by teaching how to be compassionate. A three month study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health included 375 subjects, male and female, between the ages of 13-29 and had them put into either an intervention or control group. The intervention group played a video game that stipulated many things such as knowledge, stress, and control, while the control group was simply normal. In the end the implication was that the intervention group showed an increase in things such as self love and knowledge (Kato). Next, video games can also help players have a much more supportive mindset, in the same manner that a sports team would. For a better perspective, on a baseball team people are constantly bound to be fallible, which can induce gargantuan amounts of stress and anger. Yet, after a hard practice full of blunders the coach will never begin to throw a fit and scream at every individual that screwed up. Instead, the coach will simply tell the player to pick their head up, and keep on trying their hardest. Video games are like this because when one is playing a video game such as Madden or NBA 2K and y lose, they can’t exactly throw a giant fit about it. They’ll just need to realize that they can’t always win, but they can always keep practicing and try again. Also, gaining a supportive mindset can allow someone to become a much more kind, caring, and accepting person. That is the final way that video games can help people socially.
Although video games mostly impact people socially, they can impact them in other ways as well. A major way video games can also have an impact is physically. Even though it’s hard to believe, certain types of video games can be beneficial to someone’s health. In an experiment by the American Psychological Association they had 147 young adults between the ages of 18-35 play 13 minutes of Dance Dance Revolution on the Playstation 3 using the Move Motion Controllers while measuring their energy levels using calorimetry. In an article by Eleuterio Ferrannini calorimetry is described as the method in which the type and rate of substrate utilization, and energy metabolism are estimated in vivo starting from gas exchange measurements (Ferrannini). The result of the experiment showed that while playing the video game, the subjects had there engagement, enjoyment, and BMI (Body Mass Index) levels all increased. This also shows that video games that are more engaging and active can cause higher energy levels (activity) and leads to the burning of calories (Ferrannini). These types of activity inducing games are sold for video game consoles such as the Wii or for the Xbox 360’s Kinect System.
As fantastic as these types of games are, they have one monumental downside, they’re just not popular anymore. The Kinect was introduced by Microsoft in the summer of 2009, and it looked like it was set for success. It was a fresh idea that used motion sensor and infrared technology which allowed players to play games and control their Xbox system by simply using their own voice or body. It was decently priced, as one could purchase it separately for $150 or purchase it with an Xbox system for a total of $299. The Kinect system sold about 30 million units in its shortened span of popularity, from its release in 2009 to its ultimate discontinuation in 2017 (Weinberger). The Kinect’s last reach for success was in 2013 when it added new voice commands prior to the release of the new; at the time, Xbox One (International Business Times). It was discontinued because it simply couldn’t keep up with the ravaging popularity of normal video games. For example, in 2014 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was released for Xbox 360 and according to TechSpot, it had amassed 21 million copies sold in the United States. It also was the best selling game of that year. While in 2014 the best selling Kinect game was Kinect Sports Rivals which had 8.5 million copies sold in the United States (Campbell).
Another example of video games that can promote and help people physically is Pokemon Go.
An experiment was conducted on Pokemon Go over the span of 3 months. The experiment had 32,000 users wear special Microsoft Bands that track their physical activity by using sensory data. The players were identified by certain search engines, the physical activity is measured by accelerometers. After a check in 30 days later, the data shown that all users had a 25% increase in their physical activity levels compared to their prior levels. This is an extra 1,473 steps for each person daily (Eysenbach).
Although contradictory to popular belief, video games can also improve your eyesight. More specifically they can improve your reading ability. A study by Sandro Franceschini stated that children with dyslexia who play fast paced action video games such as Call of Duty can actually improve their reading abilities. Sandro says children with dyslexia who played AVG showed an improvement in visuo-spatial and temporal attentional shifting matched with an improvement in reading speed without any increase in reading errors (Franceschini). That is how video games can impact people in a physical way.
A third way video games can be impactful is mentally. A positive way that they can affect someone is by improving their executive functioning. Executive functioning is when your prefrontal cortex chooses how someone might react to certain situations. This essentially means that video games can affect people’s decision making skills. A study by Melissa T. Buelow had an experiment that tested the effects video games had on decision making. With 228 undergraduates (114 male and 114 female) she had one group play video games actively for 30 minutes while the control group did not. After this she had both groups take the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and then compared the results. The Iowa Gambling Task is a test that shows how the user makes decisions as well as how they perform under pressure. It’s based off the Somatic Marker Hypothesis created by a neuroscientist named Antonio Damasio in 1998 (Chiu). As it turns out the group that had played video games actively prior to the task performed better on it then the control group that hadn’t played the games.
Next, video games can have an impact in a plethora of ways, but it’s been discovered that in some cases they can cause a mental disorder. An article by Bruce Y. Lee says this about the so called Gaming Disorder, gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurring gaming behavior. He also believes this disorder is mostly caused by the duration of time someone spends playing video games. Also, he says that it can be associated with mood swings. Check whether your gaming has increased over time and if there have been accompanying changes in your mood (e.g. becoming moodier, crankier, more irritable, or depressed) (Lee).
The third way video games help socially is by boosting problem solving skills. Firstly, video games can also help the brain learn a simple, but helpful strategy which is simply called, rest and reset. This simple strategy is a subliminal way to cause a person’s brain to take a break from what they’re doing and then come back to it later with a clearer mind. An example of this strategy goes way back to the summer of 1905. At this time a 26 year old Albert Einstein was going through a debilitating problem. He was trying to figure out which of these two things were wrong: James Maxwell’s Equation or Isaac Newton’s famous Laws of Gravity. He then talked about his dilemma to his friend Michele Besso. Einstein, feeling utterly abysmal, told Besso that he was going to give up on the problem he had been thinking so intensely about. Once he shoved the thoughts to the back of his mind, he decided to head home. On the way home he looked outside at a large tower and wondered what would happen if he went by it in a car at the speed of light. He then looked at his stopwatch, and realized that the car would move normally (May). This helped Albert Einstein solve his dilemma of which one of the geniuses was wrong. It also proves that when someone take a break from a problem then come back to it, they’ll think a lot clearer. This is how video games help with problem solving abilities.
The fourth and final way video games can have an impact is academically. This is shown by video games helping with people’s memories. In video games it’s crucial to always listen to the tutorials so the player will know how to play the game. Since these tutorials usually teach the basics of the gameplay they only show up in the beginning stages of the game. Also, It’s key to remember a variety of combinations for the buttons on the controllers. When playing a video game the player can’t just look at their controller and the screen at the same time so they’ll need to be able to memorize the layout of the buttons and which ones relay which commands (A is to jump, B is to crouch, X is to punch, etc.).
Another way videogames can help academically is by helping foreign people’s ability to learn English. A study was done that tested how much video games could impact Saudi Arabian children’s ability to learn English. The experimental group of 30 Saudi Arabian girls in Kindergarten used video games pre-selected by the British Council to help them learn English. The control group; the other 30 Saudi Arabian girls, learned vocabulary the old-fashioned way, using methods such as flashcards. At the end of the experiment the two groups took the same test that challenged their knowledge of English. The conclusion was that the experimental group had a much higher median score than the control group (Alshaiji).
Video games can also help people; more specifically kids, academically by teaching them about the inner-workings of the human body. There are video games called serious games that increase kids understanding of various things in the human body (Fiellen). For example, there’s a game called Re-Emission that’s aimed at teens and young adults learning about cancer. In the game, the player controls a nanobot that traverses through a 3D environment of what the body of a cancer patient would look like (Fiellen). As they go through the new environment they’ll encounter things such as cancer cells and other ailments. After the experience the people who played the game demonstrated a greater knowledge about cancer and how it affects the body (Fiellen).
To further elaborate video games are extremely impactful in a multitude of ways. Albeit socially, physically, mentally, or academically. In this day and age technology is at an all time high. It’s imperative that people know about the effects that technology can have on them, as well as the implications that may follow.
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