I Just Learned Video Games Make You Smarter and I’m Shook

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What if I told you your nightly Fortnite habit could actually improve your performance in your 8 a.m. orgo class? While your video game addiction might not help your sleep schedule, gaming has been linked to increased focus, complex problem solving, and even opens doors to IRL skills like Graphic Design or Marketing that you can add to your LinkedIn profile later. Maybe the time has come to change the gaming industry’s bad rep.

Play on, because here’s 8 ways video games can make you a smarter human.

1. Video Games Give You Increased Reaction Time and Focus

The precision you need to pipe hazardous substances from a test tube to a beaker requires an amazing amount of concentration and control. Luckily, gaming can help improve this. All those minute movements on your controller show you how to focus and help build up strength in your hands. Playing online games gives you the opportunity to practice repetitive motions and forces you to pay attention to details that you might otherwise overlook. The best part? Gaming provides the perfect platform to practice these skills without consequences. In fact, you might not even realize you’re learning anything at all. And isn’t that the goal?

2. You Learn Not to Take Things at Face Value

In a world of fake news and clickbait titles, finding the truth can take some serious digging. Gaming teaches young people to look beneath the surface, and use complex problem solving skills to determine whether or not what they see in front of them is real or just plain farce. “Empty room? Absolutely a trap. Random treasure chest? Probably empty. The same applies to many asks in real world situations,” said Melon Development C.E.O. and former professional gamer Devon Thome. “Storming through decisions is likely going to cause trouble… or maybe spring some hidden trap.” In the same way you’d never rush into a new level or unknown battle territory, you learn to never rush into things in real life.

3. Video Games Teach You Cross-Cultural Navigation

Just like turning the pages of your favorite novel takes you somewhere new or turning on your favorite movie can take you to a realm far, far away, video gaming also takes you somewhere else. The complex world-building you might experience in games like Sims and World of Warcraft actually help you learn how to adapt to different places and cultures, a skill that’s increasingly helpful in today’s global society. “Playing video games has definitely had an impact on my intelligence, whether it was something small like learning words in another language,” said professional gamer Ahad “Ahadify” Akber.

4. Video Games Bring You Out of Your Shell

The social benefits don’t stop at languages. Due to the collaborative nature of most games, you also have the opportunity to meet and interact with people globally, some who will become friends for life. “You’ll find people with so many amazing interests and skills to share with you,” said Melon Development Community Manager Charlotte Jones. “It all starts with a common interest in gaming or a specific game and from there you learn to talk to new people. Once you get the hang of holding a good conversation you’ll never struggle to talk to people again.” Introverts, rejoice: Your Internet friends are actually helping you become a better IRL communicator.

5. It Helps You Be a Better Decision Maker

Turns out your GTA skills taught you more than just a love for fast cars and breaking the rules (virtually, of course). Science has linked gaming to faster reaction times and quicker decision-making skills, meaning all that time you logged on Mario Kart might not have been for nothing. “I started gaming at a young age, as soon as I could pick up a controller I was gaming away with my brother, parents and family friends,” said Jones. “When I started to learn to drive I found I could assess the dangers, potential problems and right decisions to make under large amounts of pressure from the beginning,” said Jones. Having the ability to quickly make effective decisions is a skill you’ll use every day of your adult life; it just turns out that you can now thank video games for it.

6. Gaming Teaches You to Practice, Practice, Practice

In the same way most things in life don’t end up exactly the way you want them to on the first try, you probably won’t pass that level you’ve been working on your first pass. “Learning to game doesn’t come instantly,” said Jones. “It takes a large amount of practice and focus to really acquire the skills necessary to think under pressure and act accordingly.” Having to do things over and over while using active problem-solving skills to produce different outcomes teaches you how to be adaptable and resourceful, both qualities that future employers look for in college graduates. Games also teach you reflective learning: the idea behind the phrase, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If you didn’t do so hot on your first calc test, you know you have to change your study habits to expect a different result. Level up!

7. You Learn Healthy Stress Relief

Some young people get their Zen on from going to a yoga class or just chilling out and listening to stress-relieving music. Others learn this skill from gaming. “Video games are an outlet for emotions, stress, frustration and anything in between. In moderation, you can have a healthy balance that helps you pass time, helps you find yourself, and can help you in ways you can’t imagine,” said Akbhar. Self-care is so important, and if your form of self-care means escaping to another world by gaming, take that opportunity. “Everyone needs a break from the stress and responsibility of life once in a while,” said Melon Development C.O.O. Kyle Bauske. “Video games are a great outlet for that.” Don’t know what to play? “If I’m in the mood for something high energy, Fortnite or Overwatch. For something more relaxed and casual, a game of DOTA 2 or Hearthstone is fun,” said Thome.  So plug in your console and let the stress melt away.

8. Video Games Actually Make You More Employable

You are already a member of several clubs, have the perfect internship and spend a ton of time in the library striving for great grades. What if all you’re missing is a few hours of gaming? The gaming industry is so much more than just clicking a few buttons, and if you take the time to get into it, there’s tons of opportunities to learn IRL skills like Graphic Design or Marketing you can put on your resume later. It might even expose you to a future career. “I’m currently the CM for the Uncharted Minecraft Server,” said Jones. “My love for Minecraft is what got me to where I am. I learned about the game, community and work that goes on to make a good server. Now I get to talk to people every day and see what it takes to help increase their love for it too.” Turns out just like your gaming addiction might be helping your performance in class, your gaming might actually allow you to do what you love. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Ask the Experts:

What are the Experts Playing?

“Anything that makes me think, and is in the first person shooter (FPS) category.” – Ahad “Ahadify” Akber

“The Sims series has always been my personal favorite set of games.” – Charlotte Jones, Community Manager at Melon Development

“If I’m in the mood for something high energy, then Fortnite or Overwatch, both very popular first-person shooters that are a ton of fun.” – Devon Thome, C.E.O of Melon Development

Why Should Young People Play Video Games?

“Young people should play video games simply because it exposes them to another medium of the entertainment world. The same reason that they’ll see their first movie, first TV show, like action play, or read a book. There are opportunities in every single area of entertainment, and playing a video game may spark a life-long interest that they wouldn’t find otherwise.” – Devon Thome, C.E.O of Melon Development

“Young people should play video games because not only is it a way to challenge your mind, it’s fun! Everyone needs a break from the stress and responsibility of life once in a while, and video games are a great simple outlet for that.” – Kyle Bauske, C.O.O of Melon Development

“It’s a past time. It’s an escape. It’s a place where physical and mental boundaries do not exist. Video games are an outlet for emotions, stress, frustration and anything in between. Individually you can pick up skills, real life, mental, physical even and not even realize it. They have an effect on you that lasts. In moderation, you can have a healthy balance that helps you pass time, helps you find yourself, and can help you in ways you cant imagine.” – Ahad “Ahadify” Akber

 

 

Hilary is a first year English and Medical Geography Student at the University of Florida. She enjoys binge watching Parks and Recreation, drinking cappuccinos, and on occasion, dressing up as Princess Merida.

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