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From Mario to Medal of Honor and All the Misconceptions In Between When the topic of video games arises within a conversation, most people think of and imagine a boring setting of some geeky nerd sitting down staring at a television set in a dark room. Because, after all, that is all video games are, right? They are no more than a boring, mind-numbing, brain-cell-killing, anti-social waste of time (Shaevits 1). Wrong! The truth is, most people dont know or even care to find out what video games really are and what they can do for you. Common misunderstandings and misconceptions about video games, whether violent or not, have put them in a very bad light in most peoples minds (Gilsdorf 1), but when explored, video games have been proven to have practical and helpful uses for people, such as progressed learning, emotional uplifting, as well as providing physical and mental benefits, all while being very entertaining. Simply put, man is afriad of change. Change has always brought fear to those it presents itself to because it means leaving the old behind and venturing into the unknown. It is purly thoughts like these are purly human nature: Suffice to say, a cloud of mistrust tends to hang over any new and misunderstood cultural phenomena. We often demonize that which the younger generation empraces, expecial if its gory or sexual, or seems to glorify violence. (Gilsdorf 1) Even modern every-day items once bore the title of a so called social threat. In the late 19th century, the use of a telephone was seen as unhealthy and destructive act because it would promote wide-spread gossip and lower the general happiness of a person by bringing bad news from others (Gilsdorf 1). Similar fears have arisen as technology advances and the evolution of video games along with it. Concerned and unknowlegdable parents worry for

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what will become of their children that play video games because of the rumors they hear about them. Myths about how detrimental these new games can be to children have quickly found their way into almost every home that owns them. One of these rumors that is well know is the idea that video games have negative effects on a persons vision. The truth is all the contrarty however. Dr. Daphne Bavelier, a neuroscientist at the University of Geneva, conducted many tests and produced huge amounts of research related to myths like this one and her results only show that video games do, in fact, make players vision better. People that play video games are better able to identify color definition, such as different levels of gray when driving through a fog, and have advanced depth perception, useful when searching for a target far off in the distance. Another common myth that has circulated amongst cautious parents is the belief that video games are quick destroyers of brain cells. Again, Dr. Baveliers studies show almost the complete opposite. They are really good at tracking data, meaning they are better than non-gamers at quickly parsing though mass amounts of information to identify specific data points. (Labs 2) She also found though scanning their brains that gamers have increased amounts of brain activity in almost every area of the brain that participates in information processing and focusing abilities, even when not playing a game. Another very large misconception of video games lingers around the more violent ones. Games of the shoot-em-up variety hold the place as the number one concern of parents with children that play video games. More than any other genre of games combined, these games, like the first-person shooter Call of Duty, carry a plethora of rumors and ideas of how detrimental they can be to a persons personality and character. But once again, statistics prove otherwise. In 2005, the state of California passed a law that

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forbade the sale of violent video games to those younger than eighteen. A court case soon followed that deemed the law unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment of free speech. All that was needed to keep the law in action was proof that there was a link between the actions and behaviors of those that played them to the games themselves that would cause physical and psychological harm to players. But after copious amount of studies, no proof in support of the law could be given. In fact, almost all the studies disproved the idea that there was a link between the games and players behaviors (Gilsdorf 2). Many results showed that players showed a distinct recongnition and understanding between real violence and what is a representation of violence. A US Secret Service study found that only one in eight of Columbine/Virginia Tech-type school shooters even showed any interest in violent video games, while the US Surgeon Generals report found that quality of home lifenot media exposurewere the relevant factors in violent acts commited by kids (Gilsdorf 2). Gerard Jones, author of Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, writes, Through immersion in imaginary combat and indentification with a violent protagonist, children engage the rage theyve stifledand become more capalbe of untilizing it against lifes challenges. Without a way to let out the anger that children are taught to keep inside them, they are even more prone to letting it out in acts of violence. A counter-claim that has been brought to the attention of many people is how companies will spend thousands of dollars to produce and show commercials advertising their products on television in front of millions of viewers in the attempt to get those people go out and buy what they are selling, and for the most part it works, so there must clearly be a psychological link between video games and the actions of their players as well

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(Shaevitz 2). In a violent video game, because gamers take an active role in the carnage they hold the gun, so to speaksome might argue that video games might be more affecting or disturbing than the commercials seen on television. However, it has been discovered that there is quite a huge difference between the effects the television and videogames have on people. Commercials have the affect of implanting the idea of an experience in the mind, making the viewer crave what it is like the actually experience it. On the other hand, someone who plays a first-person shooter and kills virtual soldiers, for example, has already had the experience and the mind is satisfied. The gamer no longer yearns for what the situation might feel like and loses the want they might have to reenact it in the real world. This study goes hand in hand with the statistics that since 1991, when video games were becoming more mainstream, that instead of a credible rise in the proportion of sociopaths and snipers roaming the streets, crime rates have gone down significantly (Gilsdorf 2-3). Even in Japan, the country with the most gamers per capita, in both violent and non-violent genres, the crime rate on a daily basis is lower than any place in the world (Shaevitz 2). With all this evidence against the myths about video games, it is clear that to see what benefit they can bring society people must be open to the new face of technology and be willing to accept the change that it brings. As far as those benefits go, there are many. One major benefit that studies have shown in playing video games is the opportunity to advance learning in the early years of life. A large problem that has been presented in teaching children is the lack of focus. It is far more difficult to get a group of five-year-olds to sit down and learn even the most basic and simple of things than it is in something like a High School setting. However, studies by the Hult Univeristy Science and Research Labs show that video games, even educational

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ones, have the ability to grasp the attention of a sugar-hyped five-year-old better than any modern teaching method. Not only that, but these children showed higher learning rates than have ever been recorded in a classroom (Labs 1). A second large benefit to playing video games is the amount of emotional stimulation (the good kind) they have been proven to show. Jane McGonigal, a woman that earned her Ph.D. in game research from the University of California, Berkeley, presented many of these benefits as a speaker at the National association for College Admission Counseling: 1. In clinical trials, video games have been shown to outperform medication for dealing with anxiety and depression. What's more, games help young people become more resilient in overcoming physical, emotional and social challenges. 2. "10 Positive Emotions" that gamers experience while involved with video games are joy, belief, love, surprise, pride, curiosity, excitement, awe and wonder, contentment and creativity. Many commercial game developers understand that a game's success comes about from how many strong feelings it provokes in people who play the game. Therefore, a lot of conditions are built into games that bring forth those aforementioned emotions. "What else can people do that elicits ten positive emotions?" said McGonigal. Most video game involvement is both social and cooperative because young people build relationships as they play with friends, acquaintances and even strangers. It has also been found that students who play games with their parents feel closer to them.

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3. Based on solid scientific evidence, videogames may actually fill basic human needs that the real world fails to satisfy. Skilled gamers will be an important resource for solving some of the world's most pressing problems. In the prestigious journal, Nature, a study describes how 57,000 gamers with no previous background in biochemistry participated in a 3D game called Fold-it, to "fold virtual proteins in new ways that could help cure cancer or prevent Alzheimer's Disease." University of Washington scientists pitted supercomputers against these gamers and guess what: In more than half the games, the gamers beat the supercomputers! Apparently, kids who play games develop remarkable logical thinking, problem solving, observational, strategic, multi-tasking and visual skills. 4. Unlike video games, today's real world is often missing something. Research shows that a good video game offers four key elements in having a happy, meaningful life: satisfying labor, hope for success, a strong social connection with other people and the opportunity to be a part of something larger than yourself. If that's not enough, video gamers have nearly a 30 percent higher creativity competency than non-gaming peers. (Shaevitz 1-2) While she sees enormous potential as a result of what kids are now learning from video games, Jane McGonigal doesn't want to predict the future. On the contrary, she, along with may other people, wants to save the future by helping young people develop transformative, social innovation skills through video gaming. Another very important result that has been seen in playing video games is the enhancement of physical and mental capabilities. A study conducted by researchers at

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Keele University consisted of forty subjects that played video gamessome violent, others notand then see how long they could stand to have their hands in icy water. The subjects that played violent video games managed to hold out sixty-five percent longer (Wrenn 2). Many researchers lelieve that video games, the violent one more so than others, trigger gamers fight or flight response, which signals their brains to decrease the amount of pain they are able to sense. Thus those that play these types of games have a higher tolerance to pain and stress than other non-gamers (Spak 1). In terms of mental benefits that come from gaming, along with what has been already stated, from the rise in intellectual levels to the gain in focus ablities from violent video games in particular, studies and tests on video games have shown positive affects to solving mental disorders. Unbelievably, ADHD symptoms are lessened when gamers who have attention deficit problems play their favorite video games. In addition, gamers with Autism Spectrum Disorder seem to increase their social intelligence after playing these games. (Shaevitz 1) Just as in cases like this, video games have been proven to reverse the affects of mental disorders better than most medications. It is easy to see how amongst all the fear and confusion of change how myths and rumors about video games could arise and circulate so quickly. However, if one sets them all aside to take a deeper look into all the evidence, it is quite obvious how much benefit can come from this new generation of entertainment. As the future becomes the present and technologies advance, so will video games and the benefits that come with them, just like many other changes in history that were shadowed by misconceptions and misundertandings at first. But one day, the facts may become larger than the myths and the world will realize video games for the benefit to society that they really are.

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Works Cited Gilsdorf, Ethan. "Violent Video Games Are Good for You." Geek Pride (2010): 3. Web. Jones, Gerard. Killing Monsters: Why Chgildren Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and MakeBelieve Violence. n.d. Print. Labs, Hult. "Hult Media." 6 December 2012. Why Video Games Are Good For You - Really Good For You. Web. 4 January 2012. Shaevits, Marjorie Hansen. "Video Games Can Actually Be Good for Kids." Huffington Post (2012): 2. Document.

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Spak, Kevin. "How Violent Video Games Can Be Good for You." Newser (2012): 1. Document. Wrenn, Eddie. "Violent computer games can be GOOD for you: They increase your tolerance to pain by up to 65%." MailOnline (2012): 6. Web .