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Video games are relatively new, but they already turned into a widely used form of exposure on humanity. They were originally created to aid in the training of company staff, whose work required quick reactions in limited time intervals; training of this sort is either impossible or very expensive when done with physical objects (Patrick, 2005). Video games were gradually transformed into elite sources of entertainment, and then into a popular culture because of the development of information technology and the internet. Today, they have formed a crucial part of childhood, adolescence and even young adulthood. Those people who imagined that video games merely make teenagers and children lazy and irresponsible should probably change their opinion. This essay is important for anyone who is related to children, particularly teenagers, including parents, teachers, guardians, and even the government. It takes the reader through the tested and proven benefits of video games, and the way games can help in the wholesome growth of individuals who play it.
The global market of video games is estimated at thirty nine billion dollars a year (Williams, 2007). The fan base of video games is growing rapidly. According to Iowa State University (the USA), nine out of ten American teenagers play video games, and one in five could be called “computer geek” or “gamer” (James, 2009). In video games, all multimedia (sound, color, light etc) affect the player simultaneously, complementing each other. The impact of the audio-visual analysis and interpretation of events amplifies repeatedly in the mind of the user. Before long, the user improves his/her observational, analytical and interpretational skills (Smuts, 2005).
Firstly, NASA developed the technology of immersion into virtual reality for scientific purposes (Patrick, 2005). Gradually, the idea moved into the entertainment industry, which adopted it. Today, the number of people playing video games is growing steadily and tremendously. It stands at an impressive number of sixty four million people (Rudon, 2011).
The use of video games has many advantages. To begin with, video games are one of the best sources of entertainment because they are interactive (Rudon, 2011). They also improve the cognitive functions of the users. The intellect and reaction time of players activate and operate during the game (Smuts, 2005). Apart from that, video games improve attention to detail (scattered on the level “keys”), memory and strategic thinking. They improve the coordination of movement (visual-motor motility). Additionally, video games improve visual perception (sense of space). They also develop imagination. According to James (2008), video games involve a teen or a child into a process of enthusiastic playing with adults. Players have a chance to appreciate the rewards and the pleasure derived from the small achievements during the game. Small achievements are based on the ability of players to react immediately, to choose and accurately follow directions. These steps help to improve intelligence and logic, as well as to increase the ability to monitor the situation in the whole playing field. Players also cherish victory on every stage. It develops their attentiveness, aspiration and will to win. Such small achievements may help them to step up to the larger goals, both in games and in real life (Salen, 2005).
If the players are engaged in online games, they socialize and play with other gamers all over the globe, and they take pleasure from the joint interaction (Gray, 2008). It is a fact that no man is an island and sometimes, everyone needs to get out of his or her cocoons and interact with the rest of the world. Video games present such an avenue, only that they present it in an interesting and exciting way (Gray, 2008).
Through interaction with diversified personalities, players find out about new cultures and traditions. This may take a long time in helping the players develop an understanding of cultures different from their own (Sandra 2009). The result is a more tolerant and sociable person who respects and acknowledges the presence of cultures different from his/her own. Acceptance and appreciation of one another’s culture is a complicated and long-lasting process aimed to achieve understanding. This can teach the players to develop sustainable friendships, which may prove to be crucial for their social advancement (Malcolm, 2004).
Players also gain the experience of interacting as a team. As a result, they will understand that every person is different, and has his/her own special qualities and abilities that are valuable in the game world and in reality (Malcolm, 2004). For instance, the players may realize that one could be an amazing player in peculiar game but he can show comparatively poor skills in another type of game. This brings to light the difference in qualities and talents.
Research has demonstrated that players of video games have better attention and motor skills compared to non-players (Malcolm, 2004). This is also a very important factor in approving video games.
There are plenty of games available online, which can stimulate brain activity of a player. These are logical puzzle games. Such games can develop mathematical thinking of the player and improve his/her computer skills. Games such as “7 Wonders”, “4 Elements”, “Super Text Twist”, “Collapse”, “Bejeweled”, “Mah Jong”, “Turbo Pizza” and others can help to develop thinking of a small child (Malcolm, 2009)
Playing video games develops the skills necessary for living a better life in today’s world (Salen, 2005). Computer skills are increasingly required in work and education. Moreover, Internet competence provides initial skills needed for a job. This activity can help the player to prepare for a potentially successful career as a student and as a professional.
In addition to the above, there is a feature of video games that can be a benefit and a drawback. This has to do with the emotional impact video games have on the players. The emotional influence of video games depends on the way the feature is used. It is the most important and widespread peculiarity of video games (Sandra, 2009).
The rapid growth of the video game audience creates the preconditions for the use of games to impact the minds of people. Video games are an important form of suggestion. In video games, each element is intended for a strong emotional impact, and the emotions are a detour to the human consciousness. Research has demonstrated that 80% of conscious human memory connects with emotions (Rudon, 2011). It is, therefore, no wonder psychology of influence consists precisely in the concentrated effect on the emotional and psychological sphere of a person (group or social community) (Rudon, 2011). This impact can come about by emotional contamination. The huge potential of video games as a form of suggestion determines their place in information and psychological operations.
Nowadays, video games have become one of the most effective tools to spread the ideology of the state, to form national consciousness of citizens, and to create a favorable image of the country (Williams, 2007). For instance, the entertainment industry has become the largest manufacturer and distributor of American ideological concepts. After the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the US offered the world the concept of fighting against international terrorism. The USA is a leader in the global game industry. Seeking to spread the idea of the fight against international terrorism, the US created and distributed computer games, the plots of which were based on anti-terrorism issues. The main idea of the majority of video games developed in the USA is the salvation of the world from the threat of international terrorism. Thus, in the “Apache AH-64”, gamers receive invitation to “Operation Anti-Terror” in the image of the famous American helicopters AH-64 “Apache”. This kind of video game state can create and inspire the idea of patriotism. Video games can fix the image of the enemy in the minds of the players. They reinforce the ideological apparatus of right and wrong behavior for dealing with evil (Smuts, 2005).
Unwittingly, the Pentagon gave the idea of creating such video games. Playing cards with the pictures of the most wanted Iraqi functionaries were produced for American soldiers (Williams, 2007). Notably, in the armies of NATO, video games are widely used in combat training to refine moral and psychological conditioning of service members (Smuts, 2005).
Video games can perform the following tasks:
Re-create a realistic multi-dimensional picture of the modern battlefield;
Work out the tactics of warfare;
Train personnel to operate in any natural and geographical conditions;
Reduce stress among troops participating in combat.
In the last ten years, several video games have been developed intensively by order of the Pentagon. Video games have real training benefits for combat. The pioneer was the game “Doom” (ID Software is a producer), which appeared in 1994. Experts of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) recognized this as a potential prototype of computer simulators for training. Commissioned by the MoD, a prototype of a computer simulator for the Marine Corps, “Marine Doom” was created by Institute of Creative Technologies and the University of California (Gray, 2008).
The U.S forces use some video games on a regular basis. Naval War College teaches its students to manage commercial fleet by using a tactical game (Smuts, 2005). In the futuristic tank game “Battlezone”, military personnel works out the first attack and coordinates with other crews. The company Ubi Soft Entertainment, established for combat training in urban conditions (Patrick, 2005) is developing the game “Red Storm” based on the novel Red Storm Rising by the famous writer, Tom Clancy. The game “Flight Simulator” was useful in preparing students in sixty-five military schools, which train pilots for the Navy. Recently, video games have been used in the USA during the campaign of military professional orientation for young people (Smuts, 2005). The goal of the campaign was to promote the profession of a soldier.
In the future, the game industry will continue its rapid development. One of the reasons is the high profitability (Williams, 2007). Internet computer games, which have about two hundred thousand users, bring an income of about two million dollars a month. However, the benefits accruing to computer games is not just limited to enormous profits, but are also beneficial in a multitude of other ways. Improving the interpretation skills of the users as well as their social interactions are just a few of the benefits (Salen, 2005).