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Cristopher Baumann

Dr. Ray
Comp II
3/15/2016
Video Games: Beneficial or Harmful?
Some may say video games are the cause of the many negative youthful uprisings that
happen in todays society. Others disagree saying that video games are actually a wonderful
learning environment. Are video games beneficial? That is the question. A question that has
parents locked in a constant struggle. Never shall I be one to tell another how to parent, but
rather to inform and erase the cloud of doubt from ones mind. Do video games really help
children? Or do they render them unsocial zombies? Or, is it somewhere in between? I believe
video games help teach the youth valuable lessons and skills that could be used in the real world.
Video games help increase a variety of cognitive and spatial skills, has many medical
advantages, and some people may not believe it but video games also improves social behavior.
Too many people argue that playing video games could be synonymized with being lazy.
Not just lounging around but actually being intellectually lazy. What they do not realize is that
many video games are complex. As seen in Fig. 1 over half of the genres of video games are
complex. According to some studies, video games improve the players cognitive skills.
Compared to control participants, those in the shooter video game condition show faster and
more accurate attention allocation, higher spatial resolution in visual processing, and enhanced
mental rotation abilities (Granic. Lobel, Engels). Call of Duty or Halo are just some games that
could fall under the shooter genre. Researchers have determined that the spatial skills
improvements resulting from playing commercially available shooter video games are

comparable to the effects of high school and university-level courses aimed at improving these
same skills. German researchers conducted a study, which was released this week. They asked
23 adults with a median age of 25 to play "Super Mario 64" for 30 minutes a day over a period of
two months. A separate control group did not play video games at all. Examining the brains of
the two groups using an MRI machine, they found that the gaming group had a rise in gray
matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum -- areas of the brain
responsible for spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine motor skills in
the hands (Guarini, Drew). Video games help improve brain functions and improve basic skills
that we use in everyday life. In video games, sometimes we have to plan ahead for future battles
or conflicts that may surprise you at any time, if we are not fully prepared we fail. So we
improve memory and we learn how to strategically plan ahead.
A common misconception that many non-gamers believe is that gamers are socially
secluded, incompetent nerds who spend most of his (or her) time loafing on the couch. On the
contrary over 70% of gamers play their games with a friend, either cooperatively or
competitively (Granic. Lobel, Engels). Looking back at fig 1 you can see that over half of the
genres are social games. Whether gamers play cooperatively or competitively with their friends
in the same room or with thousands of other players over the internet. Gamers get connected to
many different people who all find happiness playing whatever game they happen to be playing
at the time. Video games give gamers a guaranteed topic to discuss with other gamers. Also,
there could forums for that particular game. RPGs like Skyrim, Fallout, or Final Fantasy XV
arent actually social games, but gamers could go on forums and meet other gamers who like to
talk about that particular game. They could also seek help if they cant figure out a particular
puzzle. Even the simple games one would play on social media, for example; Farmville is a very

social game where one build their own farm but can visit their friends farms and help out but
can also ask their friends for help on their own farm. For a very complex social game, we could
look at World of Warcraft (WoW). WoW is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role
playing game) and looking at figure 1 it is a very complex and social game. WoW boasts 12
million regular players. In these virtual social communities, decisions need to be made on the
fly about whom to trust, whom to reject, and how to most effectively lead a group. Given these
immersive social contexts, we propose that gamers are rapidly learning social skills and prosocial
behavior that might generalize to their peer and family relations outside the gaming
environment (Granic. Lobel, Engels). Some people dont realize how social video games can
really be. For every popular video game on the commercial market, there is a very huge, very
diverse fan base from all around the globe.
Now that I have stated how video games help improve cognitive abilities and social
skills, lets discuss how video games can help medically. You may be confused on how video
games could actually help medically, so let me demonstrate: imagine youve broken your arm
and you have to take physical therapy to get yourself to perfect working order. You started off
doing very well but after a while, it got boring and you think it takes too long to see results. Well
that is what happened to young Cosmin Mihaiu. He broke his arm right before 1st grade but he
never finished his physical therapy. A few years later in his life, his mom got frozen shoulder
syndrome. She had to do physical therapy but she never completed it because it was boring and
no fun. Well Cosmin and his team of software developers took a Xbox Kinect, which is visual
recognition camera, and developed a program called Mira, which is a fun way to do physical
therapy. Your therapist inputs what movement you have to do and Mira assigns the movement
with a fun little game to get you to do your therapy (Mihaiu, C.). Video games can do more than

just help with physical therapy. They can also help relieve stress and anxiety from day to day life.
It could be a great way to escape for little while from your problems.
Emotionally, video games also teach players how to cope with failure better. Whenever I
play games and I lose a life, or I fail the challenge, Im forced to reevaluate my approach and
rethink the situation. I may get annoyed at the constant losing but by losing I now know what I
should not do. By knowing what not to do, I can quickly figure out what Im suppose to do. I
know losing isnt permanent, I can always reset and try again. Another study showed how video
games help teenagers with depression get over their depression. In 2012, researchers in New
Zealand created a novel way to treat depressed teenagers with "SPARX," a video game designed
to give therapy to kids in a way that was more fun and active than traditional counseling. The
acronym stands for smart, positive, active, realistic and x-factor thoughts, strategies that have
been commonly used to battle depression. The research included 168 teens with an average age
of 15 that had previously sought help or struggled with depression. The researchers divided the
teens into two groups. The first half were treated with the usual treatment, while the other group
played SPARX. SPARX is a fantasy game where the teens make a player to combat the gloomy
negative automatic thoughts so they can restore order to the world. Every level the players
progressed through taught them basic facts about depression, strategies for dealing with intense
negative emotions and relaxation methods (Guarini, Drew). Society should be opened to hearing
how video games can actually be helpful for not only improving cognitive, spatial, social skills,
but also help with medical treatment.
The main argument against video games is that some people believe that violence is
directly linked to them. This has been proven false. There are a few correlations between the two.
It may be said that playing violent video games can cause aggression, bullying, and fighting in

the youth ("Video Games ProCon.org.). It is a true statement. They do cause violent thoughts.
There is a way around this little mishap. As parents, one could moderate how much their child
plays, also what kind of games they play. There is a rating system that the companies use to help
parents protect their children from what they may think is too violent for them to play. The
video game industry voluntarily established the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
on Sep. 1, 1994 to create a ratings system. Based on the video game's content, the ESRB assigns
one of the following ratings: "Early Childhood," "Everyone," "Everyone 10+," "Teen," "Mature,"
"Adults Only," or "Rating Pending" (only for use in advertising for games not yet rated). In a
Pew Research Center 2008 survey, 50% of boys and 14% of girls aged 12-17 listed a game with
a "Mature" or "Adults Only" rating in their current top three favorite games. [42] As of Sep. 18,
2015, there were 2,178 M-rated games in the ESRB database. [129] Of all the games rated by
ESRB in its 20 year history, 94% have been rated E, E10+ or T ("Video Games ProCon.org.").
Also you can see in fig. 2 as video game sales went up, crime has steadily came down. So there
is no correlation between the two. Some argue the violent video games lead to mass shootings,
this is not the case. There have been 71 mass shootings between 1982 and August 2015. Seven of
which (which is 9.8% to be technical) involved shooters who were 18 years or younger ("Video
Games ProCon.org."). Video games can be very helpful. I hope that I have helped shed light on a
typically dark topic. I certainly dont think parents should completely deny video games because
they can really be helpful for improving basic skills. You can take my word for it. I vouch for
video games.

Works Cited
Guarini, Drew. "9 Ways Video Games Can Actually Be Good For You." The Huffington Post.
AOL Tech, 07 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/video-games-good-for-

us_n_4164723.html.

Granic, Isabela, Adam Lobel, and Rutger C. M. E. Engels. "The Benefits of Playing Video
Games." American Psychologist 66-78 69.1 (2013): 66-78. 02 Dec. 2013. Web.
27

Nov. 2015. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf>.

Mihaiu C. (2015, March) Cosmin Mihaiu: Physical therapy is boring -- play a game instead
[Video File]. Retrieved from
http://www.ted.com/talks/cosmin_mihaiu_physical_therapy_is_boring_play_a_game_inst
ead#t-255576.
"Video Games ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. N.p., 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
http://videogames.procon.org