The Value of Video Games

Written by Erik Lindquist

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There’s a stigma around video games. “Gamers” are often portrayed as unambitious people who seriously lack social instinct. If I was asked to picture a World of Warcraft player, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envision a disheveled 38-year-old living in his mom’s basement. While there are definitely people that reinforce the stereotype, I’d argue that your average Joe plays a substantial amount of  video games as well.

 

Whenever my brothers and I were playing Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, or some other classic Nintendo game when we were younger, my dad would often admonish us for turning our brains to mush. While I agree that doing physical activity when it’s beautiful outside is healthy, anyone who believes that video games lack significant benefits is wrong.

 

Here is my rationale:

 

Video Games Develop Problem-Solving Talents

 

Contrary to popular belief, video games can actually enhance brain functions! In one of my classes last semester, the professor set aside some time to watch this TED Talk, titled Gaming Can Make a Better World by Jane McGonigal. In the talk, Jane says that video games empower the people playing them. You feel (because you are) invincible. Every obstacle in the game, no matter how difficult, can be overcome with practice. Jane uses this logic to argue that this attitude that nothing is impossible can be applied to real-world problems.

 

Video Games Help Form and Sustain Relationships

Video games bring people together. Playing a game with someone is a sacred ritual of sorts. Starting the game involves communication and accord on the game you’ll play. It involves trust that both parties will play to the end. I’m going to make the argument that sometimes the banter and chatting for the duration is more fun than the game itself. Lastly, when the game ends,  both parties had a good experience and are closer than they were beforehand, (usually) regardless of the result.

 

FIFA and Fortnite are staples in my apartment. It’s rare that I go a day without playing at least one competitive game of FIFA. This is the time when my roommates and I update each other and give summaries of our days. It’s the norm to do business on golf course, but why can’t business be done on the couch?  

 

Another dimension that’s worth addressing is the formation of friendships all over the country or world. Online gaming facilitates playing with strangers in real time. My senior year of high school, after an online game of FIFA, my opponent sent a friend request accompanied by a friendly note. It became a thing where whenever we saw we were both online, we’d play each other. While all I know about him is his gamertag, we have a special connection. Video games are the only way that this relationship could have started.

 

Video games also serve as a conversation topic. I personally have trouble with awkward periods of silence when I’m interacting with someone. Telling a little Fortnite anecdote, or asking if they play the beautiful Hunger Games-esque game, is the most reliable conversation-starter that I know of. Everyone plays, knows someone who plays, or has heard of the hype surrounding it. Peep the featured image for a not-so-humble brag on my part. A solo Fortnite win!

 

They’re Fun!

It may damage time management, but sometimes it’s a necessary sacrifice for a good time with friends or some mood upliftment. They’re stress-relieving. However, like all good things, they’re best in moderation.