With the headline “[Iowa State University] study proves conclusively that violent video game play makes more aggressive kids,” everyone above the age of 40 who has never played video games sits back in their chair and declares “I knew it.” I personally decided at age 17 to nearly completely wipe video games from my life, but I can personally testify of three of their benefits. First video games improved my typing skills: although middle school classes helped me to type faster, nothing helped me type as fast as when I was calling for help while under a zergling attack. A second is learning: the board game/video game Risk taught me more about geography than any class. Ask anyone where Siam (an otherwise obscure country, but important in the game) was located, and if they’ve played risk they’ll tell you. They might not, however, be able to pinpoint Thailand with the same accuracy, even though they’re the same country and that would have been what your high school classes would have taught you about. Lastly, the third way video games helped me is through computer skills: we always assume “techys play video games,” but rarely consider the possibility that “video games help make techys.” Yesterday I was reinstalling an old computer game from 1995: Command and Conquer. I was reminded of how much extensive configuration was needed to install it, and how much more understanding of modems and cables was necessary to play online. So if kids wanted to play this game, they would, of necessity, need to learn about their computer in ways they would otherwise not learn until university. Could that be a reason why some kids are so technologically advanced? A different study than the Iowa State one “concluded that computer games can be a positive feature of a healthy adolescence.” While I neither praise video games as heaven-sent, nor conclude they are for everyone, I can personally testify of their benefit in my life.
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